I spend just about everyday working with somebody who has experienced carpal tunnel in the past.
I know that for myself, as somebody who does a fair amount of typing every day, that I’ve battled twinges of it in the past as well. During last semester of grad school, I consistently wrote anywhere between 3-5 papers/week.
It was during this time that I decided that it was finally time to mop the basement floor. I had to hand-wring the mop, and the next day that I woke up, I could barely use either of my hands. They were both numb, tingly, and my wrists hurt too.
I could barely hold my toothbrush.
I like being able to brush my teeth.
So, I personally resolved to monitor my typing much more closely, and have experienced what carpal tunnel feels like. I can personally attest to the fact that it’s not fun.
Anyways, I somehow got onto the subject the other day with my Mom, who also has minor carpal tunnel issues occasionally. She’s recently been doing a workout plan involving plenty of push-ups and planks, and realized that it’s done wonders for her carpal tunnel.
I decided to look into it a bit, and here’s what I found.
Numerous studies have found that yoga results in a reduction in carpal tunnel pain and symptoms.
If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, odds are that you realized just how much they do on their hands. Down dogs, upright planks, and cobra pose are all a few of the poses that they do where the hands are placed on the ground supporting the body.
The theory is that by placing the hands at this angle and simultaneously applying pressure to them it helps to decompress the median nerve that is being suffocated within the wrist.
Now, just to lay out all the cards, you’ll notice that some sources state that people with carpal tunnel should never do any form of wrist extension. This may be true if putting your wrist into this position causes significant pain. In some populations, putting the wrist into an extended position actually increases the amount of pressure that is on the wrist.
If that is the case for you, then by all means, don’t do it.
BUT, perchance going into wrist extension doesn’t result in increased pain, studies seem to suggest that committing to a regular workout program with wrist extension exercises within it can actually lead to decreased pain levels.
THIS study found that when compared to a control group that only used a wrist splint, those that did yoga had a significantly higher decrease in pain levels.
Here’s a few of the exercises that you could look at to put your wrist into resisted extension, if you decide to give this a go yourself.
2) Tall Plank
Though they’re not all yoga, the same principle still applies. We’re extending the wrist (like a waiter holding a tray over his head), and then applying pressure through the palm.
So, if you have carpal tunnel, you may want to give this a try, provided that you don’t get the wrist pain that was mentioned previously. If that is absent though, these types of exercises might just be the ticket to help ease some of your CT pain. Make sure your doctor’s cool with it first though.