3 Simple Postural Exercises to Relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you have pain in your wrist, or even carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), do you know it can actually be caused by poor posture? It’s true! The median nerve is a nerve that travels from your neck, through your shoulder, arm, and wrist and into your hand and fingers.
If you’ve been treating your wrist pain or CTS you might be overlooking a helpful strategy to get relief. Today we have 3 postural exercises that will help relieve wrist pain and CTS symptoms.
In addition to the wrist stretches and exercises we discussed in our previous post on carpal tunnel syndrome, today we are expanding your options with 3 powerful yet simple postural exercises that can help stop wrist pain at the source – poor posture.
How does posture affect carpal tunnel syndrome?
Slumping and slouching over time can pinch the median nerve where it runs through the neck. You can think of this like a water hose. If you’ve ever gotten a kink in your water hose, you know that it either slows or stops the flow of water.
It’s a little bit like this with your nerves. The “water” in your nerves is actually electrical signals driven by the flow of sodium ions through the nerve. If the sodium ions get stuck because part of the nerve is pinched off (either in your wrist or your neck) then the signals can’t reach their destination and you experience pain, numbness, and tingling.
How better posture can improve carpal tunnel syndrome?
By “unkinking the hose” and allowing the “water” to flow freely again, aka improving your posture and reducing the extent of pinching on the median nerve, you can relieve some of the problems you are having in your wrist.
Postural Exercises for Carpal Tunnel
1. Chin Tucks
The first exercise is called chin tucks and is an isometric exercise, which means we are strengthening without moving.
Start by sitting or standing with a neutral posture in your back. This means you’re not slouched forward, and you should have a generally straight line from the top of your head to the bottom of your back.
Next, tuck your chin inwards toward the back of your neck, as though you were trying to give yourself a double chin. Don’t tuck your chin down toward your chest, try to move it back toward the spine at the back of your neck. Hold for 2-3 seconds and repeat for 10 times total.
2. Scapular Retraction
The second exercise is called scapular (aka shoulder blade) retraction. This is to help return your shoulder blades to the position that is most healthy.
Over time, when we slouch, our shoulder blades round forward and this causes pinching of our nerves. This exercise makes us aware of where our shoulder blades should be placed for optimal health.
For this exercise, start at a neutral position as in the previous exercise and pull your shoulder blades back, almost like you are trying to get them to touch each other.
Be sure to keep your shoulders down and relaxed, as you may have a natural tendency to hunch the shoulders up. If it helps, you can visualize having weights on your elbows, keeping the shoulders pulled down. Hold for 2-3 seconds and repeat for a minimum of 10 times.
3. Chest Stretch
The final exercise is the chest stretch. When we make a habit of slouching, the chest muscles get shorter and shorter, especially if we don’t do any stretching or exercises to keep them long.
This can actually start to pull our shoulders forward if we slouch long enough requiring focused effort on our part to keep ourselves in a neutral position.
For this stretch you need a support for your arm. Ideally, stand in a doorway. Bend your arm as if to wave at a friend, so that your hand is in the air and your elbow is bent.
Stand in the doorway and place your hand and forearm on the door frame. Placing your whole lower arm on the door frame in this way takes pressure off the elbow and allows you to focus the stretch on your chest.
Gently rotate your upper body away from your supported arm. There is only a slight rotation needed to get a good stretch in the chest. If necessary, you can straighten the arm slightly and place only your hand on the door frame for support.
This does add some stress to the elbow but may be helpful in situations where there is reduced shoulder mobility.
If you need to do this exercise seated, try to use your bed or a couch. Scoot safely toward the edge and sit in the same neutral position as for the other two exercises. Place your hand on the surface next to you. You can keep your elbow slightly bent for comfort.
Keeping your hand in place, gently rotate your upper body away from the arm that is placed on the bed or couch. Try to keep your shoulders relaxed and your chest open and not collapsed for the best stretch. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds, or as long as you can without feeling pain.
You may not be able to rotate very far at first, and that’s okay! Your muscles will adapt in short time, and you will be able to rotate further and further with regular practice.
Track Your Progress Toward Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Relief
These 3 exercises will address the “kinks in the hose” that you may have developed and provide relief for your CTS symptoms and even prevent them from recurring.
We have a special free guide that gives you a 4-week progression to help keep you on track to improving your posture as well as relieving your symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Use the guide to help you remember to do your exercises and track your progression to symptom relief in just a few short weeks.
Top Exercises for Shoulder Bursitis to Relieve Discomfort
It’s possible to gather safely for the holiday. Here’s how to do it.
Your Perfect Desk Ergonomic Setup to Relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY: SAMANTHA WOOD, DPT Did you know that one of the most important ways you can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome is by having an ergonomic desk setup? You may spend hours in front of your desk every day, and if it’s not positioned correctly, you’re putting yourself at risk of developing wrist pain. […]
3 Simple Postural Exercises to Relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY: SAMANTHA WOOD, DPT If you have pain in your wrist, or even carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), do you know it can actually be caused by poor posture? It’s true! The median nerve is a nerve that travels from your neck, through your shoulder, arm, and wrist and into your hand and fingers. […]
3 Best Hand Stretches to Relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY: SAMANTHA WOOD, DPT Wrist pain can make it difficult to enjoy activities you once loved. If you’ve noticed pain in your wrist and numbness or tingling in your hand and some of your fingers, you may have developed symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? CTS is a […]
Why You Have Knee Pain When Bending (Plus How to Treat It!)
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY: SAMANTHA WOOD, DPT We’ve all heard the common saying “a pain in my….” well, you know what, but honestly that saying should be updated to “a pain in my knee.” Sure, it might not have the same punch, but that saying is true for a lot more of us. It’s so common […]
How To Relieve Knee Pain At Night: Simple Home Treatment
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY: SAMANTHA WOOD, DPT We’ve all read articles on tips for falling asleep and getting better sleep at night. Those lists often cover stopping screen time early, going to bed at a similar time each night and more, but they don’t address how to fall asleep when your knee pain is worse at […]
Complete Guide To Knee Pain: Everything You Need To Know About Your Pain
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY: SAMANTHA WOOD, DPT Sometimes there is nothing better than sinking into your couch at the end of the day; however, if you have knee pain, sometimes there is also nothing worse than trying to stand up from that same couch. Talk about ruining a relaxed mood when you have to try multiple […]
Popliteus Pain: 2-Minute Massage To Relieve Pain In The Back Of The Knee
Do you suffer from pain in the back of the knee? One of the most common culprits is the popliteus muscle. This small, triangle-shaped muscle lives just behind the knee. Every day, it helps stabilize and bend your knee. But what happens when this little bugger gets angry? Written By: Coach Todd and originally posted […]
Exercises for Wrist Tendonitis To Help Your Pain Diminish
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY: SAMANTHA WOOD, DPT It’s getting harder and harder to avoid technology and we are spending more time typing, using a mouse, and scrolling on our phones. You may have also noticed that the more you use your phone, computer, or tablet the more you experience wrist pain! This article will cover exercises for wrist tendonitis […]
Ultimate Guide: Home Rehab for Calf Strain
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY: SAMANTHA WOOD, DPT It’s now 2021 and you’ve set your New Year’s resolution: time to become more active and lose some weight. In fact, since 2021 is going to be your year, you’re going to start today! Right as you are starting your new workout, you notice a sharp pain in your […]