5 Simple Ways to Help Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is no joke and is plaguing more and more people each year as we rely more steadily on typing in our jobs. The carpal tunnel is a passageway that protects your median nerve, which travels from your forearm to the inside of your wrist and into your hands. When the median nerve inside the carpal tunnel is compressed, irritated, inflamed, or crowded, carpal tunnel syndrome may result, leaving your hand and arm tingling, numb, and weak.
While your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome may increase due to a number of conditions like chronic illness, pregnancy, and inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis, repetitive motions of the hands and wrists may also lead to this condition that makes it hard to type, use a mouse, text your pals, brush your teeth, flip your pancakes, sign your name — and pretty much everything else you use your hands for.
You can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome by taking it easy on your hands and fingers. And by "taking it easy," we mean this:
- Go easy on your grip. If you tend to hold on to things — your pen, your coffee cup, your significant other's hand — with a grip of death, ease up! Use the grip of least resistance in everything you do.
- Give your grippers a rest. Take plenty of breaks when you're doing repetitive tasks with your hands and fingers, such as typing, painting or drawing, playing the piano, picking the banjo, or tatting doilies. Stop what you're doing, shake out your hands, flex your fingers, and stretch your wrists.
- Keep your wrists in a neutral position. Try to avoid doing tasks with your wrists bent too far up, down, or to the side, instead keeping them relaxed and in a neutral, middle position. Position your keyboard so that your forearms and wrists are parallel to the floor and your elbows are close to your body as you type.
- Warm them up. Keep your hands and wrists warm to ward off stiffness and pain. If your office feels like a walk-in cooler, wear fingerless gloves at work, or warm up your hands by sticking them in your armpits or under your thighs until they thaw out.
- Stretch them out. When you're working with your hands, take a periodic stretch break:
First, put your hands together like you're going to pray. Keeping your palms and fingers together, lift up your elbows so that your hands are at a right angle to your forearms. Hold this position for a few moments. With your fingers still together, separate your palms, and lift them until you feel the stretch.
Next, hold your arms out in front of you and make your hands into fists. Rotating your hands at the wrists, draw ten circles in the air in one direction and ten in the other. Squeeze your fists tight and release them, spreading out and flexing your fingers, and repeat a few times.
Finally, with your arms still in front of you, point the fingers of your left hand downwards, and use your right hand to gently pull your hand toward you until you feel the stretch on the upper side of your wrist and forearm. Hold for a few moments, then point your fingers upward, and pull your hand toward you until you feel the stretch on the inside of your wrist and forearm. Hold again for a few moments, then repeat with the other hand.
Do you ever get that tingling in your hands? Did these stretches help you?