Word after word, number after number. Many of us spend 8 plus hours of our day on the computer, our fingers robotically typing email after email. Eventually, all of this typing will take a toll on our physical body, especially our fingers and wrists. Unless we are planning on quitting our jobs, we need to formulate a Plan B!
Before anything else, we must address our posture. How are you sitting right now? Are your shoulders rounded forward? Is it hard to hold your head up? Come to a comfortable seat with a tall spine. Envision your ears stacking over your shoulders and your shoulders stacking over your hips. For further support, hug your navel back toward your spine to engage your core. This action will help stabilize your spine, allowing the crown of your head to reach higher toward the ceiling.
Now, let’s start with a good wrist stretch…
Draw your palms up off of your chair. Make tight fists with both hands, your thumbs wrapped around the outer edges of your knuckles and your fingertips curled in toward your palms.
With your fists clenched and your breath steady, begin to circle your wrists in one direction 5-10 times. Now pause, and begin to circle in the other direction 5-10 times.
Staying where you are, release your fists, and free your fingers. Curl your fingernails in toward your thumb and now imagine you are flicking water off of your fingertips.
Repeat these “finger flicks” at a rapid pace as you count to 20, then pause and shake out your hands. No description needed here, as Taylor Swift says, “Shake It Off”.
Now let’s open up the tendons in your wrists: point your fingers to the ceiling like you are communicating “stop” with your hand and using the hand not being stretched, slowly push against the insides of your fingers to press them towards your elbow.
Breathe and press while counting to 10. Point the fingers down towards the ground and repeat in the other direction. Switch hands and repeat.
Are you ready for some strengthening?
Check back in with your posture and make sure you are in good alignment. Ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips.
Look around your desk, is there anything that weighs 1 to 2 pounds that can easily be held in your palm? Some suggestions are large staplers, paperweights, your tape dispenser, a pencil sharpener, your coffee mug, etc. Get creative!
Let us start with our right arm. Place your right forearm on your desk so that only your palm hangs over the edge. We want to isolate the movement so that it remains in our wrist. Now, spin your palm so that the thumb side is facing the ceiling as if you were giving a “thumbs up”.
Hold your chosen object, maintaining this “thumbs up” position. On your inhale, lift the thumb side of your hand higher toward the ceiling. On your exhale, lower the pinky finger side of your hand down toward the ground. It should be a simple up and down motion. Inhales link with upward movement. Exhales link with downward movement. As with everything, there are exceptions.
The grip around the object is just strong enough so that it does not fall out of your palm. Repeat this exercise for 10 cycles of breath. “Inhale, exhale” counts as one cycle. Once you finish your right hand, repeat the same exercise with your left hand.
It is time to switch the orientation of our right hand. With only your palm hanging off of the side of your desk, and your entire forearm supported, spin your palm to face the floor (pronation). The back of your hand will be facing the ceiling.
Hold your 1 to 2 pound object in your right palm. On your inhale, lift the object toward the ceiling, raising your knuckles (extension). On your exhale, lower the object toward the ground (flexion). Make sure to isolate this movement so that it is solely felt in your wrist, not your upper arm.
As with the first round of movement, the grip of the object is just strong enough so that it does not drop out of your palm and down onto the floor. Repeat this exercise for 10 cycles of breath. An inhale and an exhale count as one cycle. Once you finish your right hand, repeat the same exercise with your left hand.
Finally, spin the thumb side of your palm away from you so that your palm is open to the ceiling, and the back of your hand is facing the ground (supination). Keep your upper arm relaxed, and only your hand hanging over the edge of your desk.
Hold on to your 1 to 2 pound object. On your inhale, curl your knuckles up toward the ceiling and in toward the inside of your wrist crease (flexion). On your exhale, release the curl, letting the back of your hand lower toward the ground (extension).
If you are confused, picture a bicep curl but only with your palms and a smaller range of motion.
This idea of curling and releasing is what you should be doing with your wrist.
Try these exercises at least 2-3 times per week or on a daily basis. Notice how stretching and strengthening your wrists makes your everyday tasks easier!