Hand and wrist pain such as carpal tunnel syndrome is not caused by what we do with our elbows, wrists, or hands—it’s caused by what we don’t do. By not engaging the shoulders and by disrupting the load-bearing capacity of the body, our upper limbs and extremities are fighting a losing battle against pain. They do not have access to the power and biomechanical interaction required to stay healthy. And there’s no substitute for those functions. None.
That’s why the ergonomic redesign of the workplace—and of garden tools, toys, and mattresses—borders on fraud. Installing a wrist brace on a keyboard or raising the surface of a workbench only shifts the excess friction to another location in the worker’s elbow, wrist, or hand. Before long, the friction will reignite the “fire” elsewhere. The more shoulder involvement in typing or gardening, the better. Assist the muscles of the hand, wrist, and forearm by engaging the upper back and shoulder muscles.
The issue of arthritis needs to be addressed here since the condition can impact elbows, wrists, and hands. One thing that should be understood about arthritis is that once it establishes itself in a joint by causing inflammation and tissue deterioration, the effects are relatively constant. What we mean is that arthritis—whatever it is that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling—does not as a rule turn on and then off. It’s there all the time.
Why then does arthritis pain, in fact, come and go? Because in many cases arthritis pain is really muscular pain. The fix? Eliminate the friction and stress of the joint to allow its proper biomechanical interaction to take place. The functional musculoskeletal system has an amazing capacity to “manage” joint articulation in spite of major obstacles. We shouldn’t assume that arthritis is the exception to this rule.
1. Sit against a wall with your legs straight out
in front of you.
*Your buttocks and upper back should be against the wall the entire time
2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold.
*Do not lift the shoulders; only squeeze them back and down.
3. Tighten the thighs and flex the feet back so that your toes are pointing back toward you.
4. The keys are to keep your blades pulled together, your thighs tight and your feet flexed back.
5. Hold as directed on your menu.
This exercise promotes thoracic extension while limiting the rotation ability of the lower load joints.