What are the Best Carpal Tunnel Exercises?

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  • Written By: Kaitlyn N. Watkins
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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Carpal tunnel syndrome affects many people, but treatment and relief often can be found through a few simple exercises. When performed regularly, a series of arm and wrist extension stretches are the best carpal tunnel exercises for both prevention and treatment. Consistency is important when performing these carpal tunnel exercises in order to prevent further injury or the need for more extensive and invasive treatments.

The reason carpal tunnel syndrome affects so many people is because it the result of repetitive hand actions, such as typing on a computer keyboard or working on a production line. The carpal tunnel in the wrist contains nine tendons as well as the median nerve. When space is limited in the tunnel, this median nerve becomes compressed or pinched, causing a numbness or tingling in the first two fingers of the hand. It can be very uncomfortable and continued work may become difficult, but following a series of carpal tunnel exercises can help prevent the nerve from becoming pinched.


In the first exercise, one should stand up and extend both arms in front of the body, with both wrists flexed, as if stopping traffic with the hands or performing a push-up. This position should be held for a count of five seconds. Then, while the arms are still extended, the wrists should be straightened and the fingers relaxed. From this relaxed position, one should then make a fist with each hand and squeeze tightly, again holding the position for a count of five seconds. At the end of the count, one should bend each wrist down so the knuckles are facing the floor, with the fists still clenched tightly, and hold for another count of five.

It is important to complete the stretches by unclenching the fists, straightening out the wrists, and relaxing the fingers once again. It is recommended that this entire series of carpal tunnel exercises is repeated a total of nine times for maximum effectiveness. Performing these carpal tunnel exercises every day before beginning work is the best way to keep pressure off of the median nerve; it also is important to take regular breaks throughout the day to repeat the exercises.

Many people have found a great reduction in their symptoms by performing carpal tunnel exercises. Often, failure to prevent the syndrome from progressing through regular carpal tunnel exercises results in the need for medical intervention. Doctors might recommend the use of wrist splints; a rearranged work station; or more serious treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, or even surgery.


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Post 3

@simrin-- I'm glad you mentioned your occupation because I think carpal tunnel prevention, and treatments should be specifically based on the activity that's causing it.

Everyone can and should do the stretching exercises to prevent carpal tunnel. But there are some occupations that are at much greater risk for carpal tunnel. Pianists and other musicians, secretaries, medical personnel and body builders are at higher risk. They rely on their hands and often do movements that put pressure on their carpel tunnel over and over again.

So you have to figure out which movement is the cause of the pain and try to adjust your movements in a way that will decrease the pressure and damage. This might mean different techniques, using supportive equipment for your wrists and hands or simply remembering to stretch throughout the day to relax those muscles.

Post 2

@turkay1-- I don't know any other exercises other than the one mentioned in the article. If you do this exercise everyday and also reduce the weight applied to your wrists from various tasks, the symptoms of carpal tunnel should improve.

I have some carpal tunnel symptoms, it doesn't seem to be full-blown. I don't have numbness in my arm or anything, but I do get tingling and sometimes cramping in my hands when I'm typing. I'm a secretary, so I type all day. I think another name for carpal tunnel syndrome is secretary syndrome because it's seen in secretaries so often.

I've started using wrist braces as well wrist lifts while I'm typing, and this in addition to the exercises have made such a difference. The tingling and cramps is down by half. Hopefully it'll go away completely in a couple of months.

Post 1

My mom worked wit her hands for many years and has developed carpal tunnel syndrome. Especially at night, her hands and wrists are in pain and it becomes numb. Massage has helped, she has me massage her hands towards her wrist and arm.

I had no idea about the exercises mentioned in this article though. I'm going to mention them to her right away so that she can start doing them. Thanks a lot for the information!

Does anyone else have an other tips and exercises to help relieve carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms? Please share if you do.

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