Simple Hand & Wrist Stretches For Office Athletes

SUMMARY POINTS

> Stretching your hands, wrists and forearms is a must for computer users
> Stretching also provides mental stress relief too
> Use a variety of stretches to maximize benefits
> Stretch as often as you can to relieve tension

The project deadline is just around the corner and you’ve been pecking at the keyboard and staring at the monitor non-stop for hours on end.

You’re focused and honed in on getting this done but your body is starting to send some subtle signals to you, hoping that you’ll recognize them.

More specifically, your forearms, wrists and fingers are starting to get tense with all the rapid and repetitive mini-movements taking place.

It’s like intermittent machine gun fire, only in this version, each of your fingers is pushing keyboard buttons and firing off high-speed sequences of letters as bullets on the screen.

You keep pushing through despite the fatigue.

Your fingers and forearms are starting to tighten so much that you’re beginning to miss the mark on the keys. One little slip up here can mean the difference between “dock” and “cock” on the shipping email update.

Don’t let it get to the point where you start feeling numbness and/or tingling sensations - that’s not good. If you’re at this point, go see a doctor immediately.

And if things get really bad, it can lead to more serious issues like carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), repetitive stress injuries (RSI) and a whole bunch of other not-so-nice things.

When your forearms, wrists and hands are signaling you for a rest, don’t blow it off. You have to take a break and relieve the built up muscle tension.

Here’s why and how you should do this.

Why It’s Critical To Stretch Your Forearms, Wrists and Hands While Working

You’ve probably read or heard about how using a keyboard and mouse for long periods of time may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

It seems logical, right?

There are countless studies like this one that indicate extensive and prolonged keyboard use is not good and may lead to increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

However, there are also contradicting studies like this one that say the exact opposite where keyboard use doesn’t have any significant negative impact that could lead to CTS.

Imagine that - conflicting information on the internet. No surprise.

There’s a ton of debate on whether or not extensive typing can lead to an increased risk of CTS. In fact, nobody even really knows what the leading cause of CTS really is.

Here’s our take.

We’re constantly typing on our keyboards throughout the day. And just like any other activity, whether it’s running, sitting, lifting, reading, etc. we all need to take a break and mix it up.

We think keyboard use and typing is no different.

Your fingers, hands, wrists and forearms all work together as one muscular-skeletal unit.

Try this.

Position the inside of your forearm and the palm of your hand to face up toward you.

Make a fist and notice how everything from your finger muscles down to your forearm work together. See?

And just like any other muscle group in your body, when it’s getting worked, it needs to be stretched and massaged to prevent injury and promote healing.

For the same reasons that professional athletes stretch before and after a workout, we all need to do the same thing with our hands and forearms.

Or, here’s a good real-world analogy that’s really on point.

Ever see a professional concert pianist just sit down and immediately start playing?

Exactly.

They take a minute or two and stretch their hands and fingers to get limber before playing. And, that’s only the stretching you see on stage. There’s a more comprehensive stretch and massage routine that takes place off stage, both before and after the concerto.

It’s all for good reasons.

Stretching and massaging your typing muscles will benefit you in a bunch of ways:
- Retain flexibility and dexterity
- Increase fluid circulation
- Preserve range of motion
- Loosen muscle and tendon tightness
- Maintain strength

And that’s just the basics. There’s a whole bunch more. But, there’s one non-physical benefit that we particularly like.

There’s a mental benefit that is associated with stretching that isn’t mentioned much. It’s the fact that the simple physical act of stretching triggers the release of “feel-good” dopamine hormones in your brain.

And dopamine is a fantastic way to offset the stress hormone, cortisol.

A lot of times, after banging on a project for a solid hour, a good, long, “arms up” stretch almost seems reset our thoughts by clearing out the mental junk...even if it’s only for a few seconds.

It re-energizes us both physically and mentally and we’re ready to tackle the next task.

Now, let’s get into the “how” of stretching.

Stretches You Can Do At Your Desk

Okay, we know that you can’t and definitely don’t want to get all yoga-tastic in your cubicle. Let’s leave that for the studio sessions.

What we’re going to explain here are simple hand, wrist and forearm stretches that you can do right at your desk.

We promise that these stretches won’t attract odd looks from your co-workers.

1. Forearm-Wrist Flexion Stretch

Seated Version:
Extend your right arm straight out, just below your shoulder and position your palm facing away from you and fingers pointing up.

Using your left hand, reach for your right hand fingers and gently pull them toward you while keeping your arm straight.

As you’re pulling your fingers, gently push your straightened arm in the opposite direction. You’ll feel your inner forearm muscles and wrist tendons stretching nicely.

Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds then release and repeat 2-3 times.

After completing this, repeat the process for your left arm.

Standing Version:
Stand in front of your desk with both palms face down on the desk and fingers spread in a comfortable position.

Straighten both arms and gently lean forward while keeping your palms and fingers flat on the surface. You’ll feel your inner forearm muscles and wrist tendons stretching nicely.

Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds then release and repeat 2-3 times.

For an even deeper stretch, position your fingers to point toward your body and gently lean in the opposite direction.

2. Forearm-Wrist Extension Stretch

Extend your right arm straight out, just below your shoulder and with your palm facing toward you and fingers pointing down.

Using your left hand, reach for the back of your right hand and gently pull it toward you while keeping your arm straight. You’ll feel your outer forearm muscles and wrist tendons stretching nicely.

Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds then release and repeat 2-3 times.

After completing this, repeat the process for your left arm.

3. Forearm-Wrist Supination Stretch

You can do this either sitting or standing.

Bend your right elbow at about a 90-degree angle and lock your elbow into the side of your body.

Turn your right palm upward toward the ceiling.

Using your left hand, reach under your right hand and grab the outside of your palm and gently pull/twist your forearm.

As you’re twisting, you’ll feel your inner forearm muscles and wrist tendons stretching in a twisting method.

Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds then release and repeat 2-3 times.

After completing this, repeat the process for your left arm.

4. Forearm-Wrist Pronation Stretch

You can do this either sitting or standing.

Bend your right elbow at about a 90-degree angle and lock your elbow into the side of your body.

Turn your palm downward toward the floor.

Using your left hand, reach over your right hand and grab the outside of your palm and gently pull/twist your forearm.

As you’re twisting, you’ll feel your outer forearm muscles and wrist tendons stretching in a twisting method.

Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds then release and repeat 2-3 times.

After completing this, repeat the process for your left arm.

5. Thumb Extension Stretch

Hold your right hand out like you’re about to shake someone’s hand.

Using your left hand, squeeze your right palm so that your thumb and pinky touch.

Hold this for 5-10 seconds and then release and repeat 2-3 times.

After completing this, repeat the process for your left hand.

6. Thumb Flexion Stretch

Hold your right hand out with the palm facing the floor.

Place your right thumb in the webbing between your left thumb and index finger.

Your left fingers should be covering some of your right.

Leverage your right thumb up and over toward the backside of your pinky finger.

This stretches the inside meaty part of your thumb.

Hold this for 5-10 seconds and then release and repeat 2-3 times.

After completing this, repeat the process for your left hand.

7. Individual Finger Extension Stretch

Hold your right hand out with the palm facing the floor.

Place only your right index finger in the webbing between your left thumb and index finger (the rest of your right fingers should be under your left fingers).

Gently leverage your index finger up while keeping your palm facing down.

This stretches the inside meaty part of your index finger.

Hold this for 5-10 seconds and then release and repeat 2-3 times.

After completing this, repeat the process for your remaining fingers and then, repeat for the left hand.

8. Individual Finger Pull Stretch

Place your forearms out in front of your chest with your elbows out (as if you’re fisting-bumping yourself).

Open your right hand with palm facing the floor.

Using your left hand, grab your right thumb and gently pull.

Hold this for 5-10 seconds and then release and repeat 2-3 times.

After completing this, repeat the process for your remaining fingers on your right hand and then, repeat for the left hand. 

9. Finger Web Stretch

Spread your right hand out with the palms facing the floor.

Using your left hand, spread the webbing in between each finger.

Hold each stretch for 5-10 seconds and then release and repeat 2-3 times.

After completing this, repeat the process for your left hand.

10. Interlocking Finger Forearm Stretch (The Mac-Daddy Of All Stretches)

Interlock your fingers with your palms open and facing the floor.

Slowly extend your arms straight out in front of you while rotating up your palms to face away from you.

Go further by extending your arms up above your head with your palms facing the ceiling (see main article photo at the top).

You should feel an overall stretch from your fingers all the way through to your forearms.

Hold this for 5-10 seconds and then release and repeat 2-3 times.

For a more visual take on these stretches, check out this super short 3-minute video clip below. It covers many of the stretches we described above.

Follow along and get some stretching done now.

You need it and so do we.

Let’s do this.

VIDEO: Wrist, Hand & Finger Stretching Routine - Active Isolated Stretching
YOUTUBE: Adarsh Williams
LENGTH: 3:12

Summary points:
> Stretch your fingers, wrists and forearms
> Use alternating extension/flexion stretches
> Repeat process for both hands

Bonus: Eye Strain Relief With Breathing

For most of this article, we’ve been focused on your forearms, wrists and hands. But, your eyes are another area that doesn’t get nearly enough rest and relief during the workday.

In today’s screen intensive world, we’re using our eyes constantly throughout the day. The bulk of that time is focused on a monitor that’s typically about an arm’s length or shorter away from our eyes.

As your eyes move around the screen, reading, seeing, observing, it’s using several muscles connected to your eyes. These eye muscles provide the ability to move our eyes up, down, right, left to varying degrees.

And when you’re moving your eyes throughout the day working, these muscles get tired and that’s what causes eye strain - not the monitor itself. This eye strain is also known as “computer vision syndrome” or CVS.

To give your eyes some relief from this strain, follow this simple exercise.

20/20/20 Eye Exercise:

The 20/20/20 exercise is an easy way to remember to take a break every 20 minutes for 20 seconds looking at an object 20 feet away.

Step 1: Blink a few times to lubricate your eyes

Step 2: Look at something in your office about 20 feet away (or even better, look out the window if you can)

Step 3: Take a three deep breaths and blink slowly and maintain your 20-foot focus for 20 seconds before resuming work

Stop reading this article and give this a shot now.

We’ll wait for you right here, seriously.







Feels good, right?

If you want to read more about relieving your eye strain, read this article. It goes into much more depth about eye strain relief.

Stretch More For Less Tension And Stress

We mentioned this up at the beginning but it’s worth repeating here.

Stretching your hands, wrist and forearms is an important thing to do and it doesn’t require a gym membership or any real struggle on your part.

If you can lift a cup of coffee to your lips, you can do this too.

Being able to type and use your keyboard and mouse is a huge factor in you being able to get your job done.

Your work income and livelihood depends on your ability to see and do things.

But beyond the obvious fact of taking care of your physical self, it’s the mental aspect of stretching and resting that most people forget about.

Remember, stretching not only relieves muscle and tendon tension, but it also provides incredible positive stress relief with all the feel-good dopamine that’s released.

With every deep stretch, both your mind and body will thank you.

Make hand and wrist stretching an hourly routine, just like checking your email. It doesn’t have to be the whole kit-n-kaboodle routine. Just a few stretches are fine.

Then, as this positive habit becomes ingrained in your normal work behavior, you won’t ever run the risk of spelling out “cock” in an email unless it’s accompanied by “tail” at the end. 😉

So, now that we’ve started this habit today, let’s keep this good thing going through the rest of the day, week, month and year...to eternity!

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]