Top Exercises to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

carpal tunnel

Are you searching for information on the top exercises to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome? Many people who regularly perform repetitive hand and wrist movements in their jobs and hobbies worry about contracting carpal tunnel syndrome. Learn which exercises are the most effective to prevent and relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve disorder that occurs when the median nerve becomes compressed in the wrist area. The medical problem is common among people who spend hours each day doing repetitive wrist motion activities that hold hands in one position.

Carpal tunnel is a painful condition that gets progressively worse without medical intervention. Exercise and medication can help treat the condition in the early stages. Moderate to severe cases that last longer that six months often require surgery.

Importance of Carpal Tunnel Exercise

Exercise is very important to prevent carpal tunnel from occurring and to treat symptoms if the condition is already present. Effective exercise can, in some cases, prevent the disorder from progressing and eliminate the need for surgery. Exercise is often recommended in combination with splinting and modifying daily repetitive wrist motion when treating carpal tunnel.Exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome strive to stretch the forearm muscles, reduce tension on tendons in the carpal tunnel region and strengthen affected muscles.

Top Exercises to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There are a number of effective exercises to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome or treat carpal tunnel symptoms. Dr. Housang Seradge, a leading carpal tunnel expert, created a series of exercises. There are also gliding exercises designed for the median nerve and tendon that stretch carpal ligaments and relieve pressure on the median nerve. The exercises also help the blood flow more effectively out of the carpal tunnel, which can help limit fluid build-up and pressure. The following exercises are often recommended by doctors and physical therapists.

Exercises by Dr.Housang Seradge

The most famous and widely recommended carpal tunnel exercises were developed and studied by Dr. Housang Seradge of the University of Oklahoma Orthopedic & Reconstructive Research Foundation. Dr. Seradge tested the exercise techniques and found that the exercises helped people lessen their chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome or significantly improved any symptoms of the disorder.

Here the instructions for Dr. Seradge's exercise techniques. All exercises are performed while standing up. It is a good idea to lightly stretch for five minutes to warm up before beginning the exercises.

Dr. Seradge's Carpal Tunnel Exercises:

  1. Hold the arms straight in front of you. Extend and stretch both wrists with your hands and fingers pointing towards the ceiling. (Your hand position is similar to the way to hold hands when performing a hand stand.) Hold the position while you count to five.
  2. Keep your arms extended straight in front of you. Now, straighten each wrist. Relax the fingers so that hands and fingers are limp.
  3. With the arms extended in front of you, make a tight fist with each hand.
  4. Continue to hold the arms straight in front of you in the fist position and bend both wrists down so that they point toward the floor. Hold this position for a count of five.
  5. Keep the arms straightened in front of you and slowly unfist both wrists and relax the fingers. Hold for another count of five.
  6. Repeat the exercise 10 times. After completing the exercise routine, let your arms hang loosely at your sides and shake them to cool down and relax the muscles.

To see illustrations and additional instructions of these exercises, visit the Eaton Hand website.

Median Nerve Gliding Exercises

Gliding exercises can be performed while sitting or standing. This exercise is performed while your wrists are held in a straight or neutral position.

  1. Hold one of your arms straight in front of you. Make a fist. Hold the position while counting to seven.
  2. Carefully straighten your fingers and thumb. Hold for a count of seven.
  3. Bend your wrist back towards your body and move your thumb slowly away from your palm. Hold the position for a count of seven.
  4. Turn your wrist and hand so that your palm face upwards. Hold for a count of seven.
  5. Use your other hand to gently guide your thumb further away from your palm. Do not pull your thumb hard. Hold this position while counting to seven.
  6. Repeat the exercise on the other arm and hand.
  7. Do five repetitions of the exercise.

For maximum benefit, do this exercise five times a day.

Tendon Gliding Exercises

Tendon gliding or fist flexion exercises are also performed while holding the wrist in a neutral or straight position.

  1. Begin with one arm in front of you. Hold your fingers straight for a count of seven.
  2. Make a hook fist and then straighten out your hand. Count to seven.
  3. Next, make a straight fist and then straighten out the fingers. Hold for a count of seven.
  4. Form the hand into a full fist and then straighten the hand. Hold for a count of seven.
  5. Do the exercise routine with your other hand.
  6. Repeat the exercise 10 times.

This exercise is most effective when performed five times a day.

Ways to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be prevented by taking breaks between repetitive activity and exercising the wrists and hands. Flexing and bending your wrists and hands in the opposite direction of the repetitive action can sometimes lessen the detrimental effect of the repetitive gesture.

Short exercise after typing:

  1. Hold your arms in front of you and make a tight fist with both hands. Hold the position for a count of three.
  2. Fan your fingers out and hold the position for a count of three.
  3. Repeat the exercise five times.

This Carpal Tunnel Exercise article also lists some excellent wrist and hand exercises.


Consider the top exercises to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome to keep your wrists in good condition.

Top Exercises to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome