Warnings about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) usually fall on deaf ears. It was an old person’s ailment. Or it was a threat only to those who worked a keyboard all day – stenographers, secretaries and, yes, journalists. Now, we should all take the wax out of our ears!
In an age when everyone from our grandparents to our pre-teens uses their thumbs almost as much (if not more) than their legs as they manipulate an array of communications devices, the risk if CTS has never been greater-or more pervasive.
What is CTS? Medically, it occurs when excess pressure is placed on the median nerve-which lies in the wrist and allows feeling and movement to the hand. This pressure may cause numbness, tightness, soreness, weakness and even muscle damage. In short, it’s a pain in the …wrist.
If you’re a Type-A Tweeter, texter, Facebook status updater, Instagramer, Viner, Pinetrester-or if you do those things and you have a job that utilizes a keyboard, well, keep reading.
You may already have a bit of soreness in your wrist or thumbs (or at least the dominant thumb). You might even be in a bit a pain. If that’s the case, start these exercises now.
Even if you’re not in pain, it’ll pay future dividends if you try these moves periodically throughout your day. They’ll keep the muscles in your hands and wrist loose and strong, avoiding the kind of swelling that may ultimately put pressure on that all too precious median nerve.
One of the best exercises is called the Prayer Stretch. It’s simply and effective. (It doesn’t even hurt to say a prayer while you’re doing it, if you’re so inclined.)
Two other exercises come from the good folks at Johns Hopkins. They’re simple stretches: The first calls for you to stretch one arm our away from your body then grasp the fingers of that hand with the other hand and gently bend back your wrist with your fingers pointing upward. Hold for five seconds. Then gently pull your thumb towards your body until you feel the stretch. Hold for five seconds. Clench your fist tightly, then release, fanning out your fingers. Repeat five times. Then do the same exercises with the other hand.
The other says to stand or sit with your elbows close to your side, your forearms extended in front of you parallel to the floor, with palms down. Make fists with both hands and make circles with your fists in one direction. Repeat 10 times, and then reverse the direction. Next, open your hands, extend your fingers and repeat the entire sequence.
You should really do at least one of these moves 3 or 4 times at day, at least.
You’ll thank us later.