[This piece was written by Karen Newman, MS/OTR/L, CHT, manager of outpatient rehab services at Albany Memorial Hospital Hand Rehabilitation Center.]
Whether you are at work or play, your hands play a huge role in your day-to-day activities. From texting on your smartphone, to typing at your desk, to gripping the steering wheel in your car, your hands are constantly in use. It’s not surprising, then, that hand and wrist pain is one of the primary complaints hand therapists are called upon to treat.
If you’ve experienced hand pain from overuse, an injury, or arthritis, you know how it can limit your activities. The goal is to build strength and flexibility in your hands, as well as protect them, so they withstand the wear and tear of daily life.
The gentle art of stretching your wrists and hands daily increases flexibility, helping to lower the risk of injury. Stretches are recommended as a preventive measure or to ease slight pain, but talk to your doctor first if you have inflammation, joint damage, or severe pain. In those cases, incorrect exercise could cause additional harm, and you should learn proper exercise technique from a hand therapist.
The following are two simple stretches that can be done at home, work, or on the go to help get you started on the path to greater hand flexibility and potentially less discomfort during daily activities. Neither exercise should cause pain or tingling when completed properly.
Most people don’t realize the tendons in their hands travel past their wrist into their forearms. A standard exercise taught at the Hand Center is called tendon gliding. It involves moving the tendons that flex the fingers through their full range, in order to reduce inflammation and potential adhesions between them. A good YouTube instructional video on tendon gliding is named “Tendon Gliding – Southlake Hand Therapy.”
Another exercise regularly taught at the Hand Center involves gentle stretching of the extensors and flexors of the forearm. A good YouTube instructional video for this can be found at “Kaiser Permanente South Rosa, Forearm Stretch; Stretching Wrist Extensors/Flexors.” Information on YouTube can be variable in accuracy, but these are two reliable resources.
Remember, stretching is a healthy habit you can incorporate into your daily routine anytime, anywhere. Take some time to perform these stretches daily; your hands will thank you!
Albany Memorial Hospital Hand Rehabilitation Center, part of St. Peter’s Health Partners Patient Therapies and located at 600 Northern Blvd. in Albany, is a unique outpatient program dedicated to rehabilitation of hand and arm disorders. Our specialized staff of occupational, physical, and certified hand therapists combine state-of-the-art treatment techniques and equipment with more traditional therapies.
For more information, call 518-427-3373 or visit us at www.sphp.com/hand-rehab-amh