Have you gotten home after a mini-shopping-spree from the grocery or department store and instead of making two or three trips to carry everything inside you simply lined up all of the bags at once, looping them over your fingers and hand? With each of your fingers and thumb acting as a hanger you may have felt the stress and strain of the heavy groceries pulling your phalanges in directions you never knew they could bend.
Well if you’ve been guilty of this you’re not alone. In fact more often than not with our busy lifestyles, when “the going gets fast”, most people tend to place a little too much stress on their hands.
Even though a bag of groceries may not be all that heavy by itself, with multiple bags pulling unevenly or at awkward angles, the hands may become strained and begin to develop symptoms of pain.
Maybe you don’t normally carry groceries into your home in such a compromising fashion but it’s probable that you can relate in some other area in your life where you commonly use your hands in a high-stress activity.
The hands are very versatile and because of that without realizing it you may use them in such a way that could cause undue stress and even injury. Many times it’s what you would consider a light-weight task that causes stress to your hands.
The best rule of thumb (no pun intended), is to always keep your hands in as neutral of a position as possible when performing enduring tasks, even such tasks as carrying bags of groceries or gifts for the family. Using your hands in unnatural postures is one of the most harmful things that you could do that may result in strain or injury to the hands and wrists.
One HANDy take-away-tip for the holiday season is that it’s healthier to slow things down a little if it means keeping those fingers and hands in a non-contorted, more relaxed position.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is such a painful and debilitating hand condition. Sadly, it affects millions of people. Do you have pain, tingling, numbness and burning sensations in your thumb and first three fingers? Do you ever lose your ability to grip; pick things up, move objects and control motions that require fine detail.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can cost people their jobs, hobbies, peace of mind and quality of daily living, not to mention hundreds and even thousands of dollars on treatments and lost wages. If you have been diagnosed or suffer from one or more of these symptoms, or if you simply want to do everything you can do to protect your hands from injuries…you will find my tips very helpful.
Here are the 3 simple secrets you can start using immediately to help ease your pain and prevent further injury.
- Keep Both Hands In a Neutral Position When Performing Tasks Neutral positioning is when the wrist is kept as straight as possible, not deviating more than a small degree into any particular angle. Here is an example of how this secret can be applied… If you are pushing a door open, you do not want to use a flat hand on the door and push through. This action causes the wrist to be in full extension and then a considerable amount of pressure is applied to the bent wrist causing a narrowing of the carpal tunnel and weakening of the wrist. When the carpal tunnel is narrowed the nerve gets pinched which can cause the pain, tingling or numbness to flare up. Instead you should either use a fist with your knuckles gently contacting the door and your wrist perfectly straight, or place your entire forearm against the door as you push the door open.One specific industry in which I’ve observed a lot of wrist and hand problems develop was in food service. Servers carrying heavy trays overhead tended to bend their wrists into extreme extension causing a great potential for hand injuries. As an alternative you can hold the tray using your fingertips instead of a flat hand. This will help protect your wrist and carpal tunnel from enduring such a high level of stress. These changes can take time to get used to. Your fingers will get stronger and your wrists will become more stable as you begin to add these modifications to your lifestyle.Other activities which you should attempt to position your wrists more neutrally include… floor exercises such as push ups or planks. Instead of using a flat hand against the floor, do them using your fists with the knuckles pointing downward into the floor. Another common activity that causes added stress is using your hands to push yourself up from a seated position. As opposed to using your hands in a bent back position, rather practice using your fists with your knuckles pointing downward into the seat or onto the arms of the chair. Also be particularly careful when you use a keyboard or mouse while you’re working at the computer. Be mindful of proper support and positioning of your forearms. Do not allow your arms to hang off of the workstation, because this causes extreme bending at the wrists. Likewise if your workstation is too high or low you’ll notice that your wrists bend into extreme ranges of flexion or extension which leads to fatigue and potential problems.
- Give Your Hands Periods of Rest When Doing Constant Repetitive Motions Most carpal tunnel cases are caused by repetitive motions. Doing the same action over and over without a break can cause your hands to fatigue which leads to injury if ignored. Just take a couple of minutes every hour to allow your hands to rest. Without proper rest your muscles, tendons and ligaments begin to fatigue and cannot adequately support the joints and bones of your wrists and hands. When the support wears down the structure begins to lose its integrity and the bones begin to migrate out of normal alignment causing nerves to be pinched and irritated. At this point the bones must be properly realigned by a board certified chiropractor that has been through specific hand technique training.
- Always Include Proper Hand Stretching and Warm Up Before Any Prolonged Activities If you observe any good athlete they’ll always stretch their muscles and joints before practice or a game. This is because they know that a good warm up will greatly enhance their performance and flexibility as well as reduce the potential for injuries. In much the same way, when you stretch your hands and wrists before any prolonged or strenuous activity it increases nerve and blood supply to the muscles and ligaments providing you with much better endurance. You don’t have to take an hour to warm up; rather just a minute or two will do the job giving you flexibility and strength. During your periodic breaks and at the end of the day it is also a good idea to repeat your stretching routine to refresh your hands.
© Robert J. Fenell, D.C. WANT TO USE THIS IN YOUR EZINE OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you use this blurb with it: For over 14 years Dr. Robert J. Fenell, D.C. has helped relieve thousands of patients from their debilitating hand pain. He has also helped train hundreds of other chiropractors in the diagnosis and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome and many other hand conditions. Get his free weekly expert tips at: www.DrRobertFenell.com