Whole Health

Hand, Wrist and Joint Pain

Performing hand stretches and exercises can help keep hand and wrist joints flexible, improve range of motion and help to alleviate associated arthritis pain.

Hands are busy carrying out a variety of tasks every day (like gripping a steering wheel, typing on a keyboard, pipetting in the lab, etc.). These repetitive movements can create weakness and stiffness in the wrists and fingers.

If daily tasks are difficult to do because of stiffness, swelling, or hand pain, specific exercises (depending on the medical condition) could help.

Wrist exercises increase flexibility and help lower the risk of injury. Stretching can help to ease slight pain. However, if inflammation or serious joint damage is present check with your healthcare professional about exercising these areas in order to avoid causing harm.

Illustrated below are some stretches and exercises to try out.  Some of these can be done while sitting.

Combination Movement  Forearm Combination Movement

  1. Bring elbow firmly to your side. Maintain this position throughout the exercise.
  2. Keeping the wrist straight, perform a “lazy eight” motion. Use palm up and down movements.
  3. Do this several times.
  4. Repeat using other arm.


FingerOpposition  Finger Opposition

  1. Touch right thumb to each fingertip.
  2. Start with your index finger and continue progressing toward little finger.
  3. Start out slowly at first. Then speed up the motion as coordination improves.
  4. Repeat with other hand doing several sets for each hand.


PalmHallowing  Palm Hallowing (hand exercise)

  1. Hold your right hand flat.
  2. Now, gently extend your fingers and thumb in the “up” direction to create a hallowing of your palm.
  3. Repeat with other hand.  Do several sets for each hand.


WristCurl   Wrist Curl – Arms/Forearms

  1. While standing, bend knees slightly.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand behind your back.
  3. Flex your wrists up as far as possible while keeping arms straight.  Avoid Pain.
  4. Do 8 – 10 reps per set.
  5. Increase reps/sets/weight as strength increases.


HandWristStretch1b  Wrist Flexor -Stretch

  1. While sitting, place your elbows on the table and put palms together.
  2. Now, slowly lower wrists to the table.
  3. Keep your palms together during the stretch.
  4. Hold the stretch for 5-7 seconds.


HandWristStretch2e  Flexor Tendon Gliding

  1. With fingers out straight, bend knuckles and finger middle joints.
  2. Touch the base of the palm of your hand, keeping fingertip joints straight.
  3. Do this several times, then repeat on your other hand.


HandWristStretch2a  Wrist Flex and Extend – AROM

  1. With your elbows bent to 90 degrees at your side, move your palms to downward position.
  2. Now bend wrists downward.
  3. Then bend wrists upward
  4. Hold each position for 5-7 seconds.  Exercise both hands.
  5. Repeat several times.
Wellness, Whole Health

What is stretching? Why Stretch?

Stretching is physical exercise.  It helps to improve a muscle’s elasticity, tone and flexibility.  It also works to enhance balance and increase blood circulation.  By warming up the muscles and raising the heart rate (HR), stretching prepares the body for exercise with improved physical performance.

Stretching also increases production of synovial fluid that reduces friction in certain joints and helps to improve range of motion (ROM).  ROM is the ability of a particular joint to move.  [Pain, swelling, and stiffness associated with arthritis can limit the range of motion of a particular joint, reducing function and the performance of everyday activities.  Stretching Helps!!]

However, stretching can be damaging if not performed correctly.

Ideally, before an exercise routine, warm-up with about 10 to 15 minutes of light aerobic exercise (walking, biking, eliptical trainer, etc.) before stretching.  Then do about 10 minutes of dynamic stretching:  slow controlled movements through the full range of motion.  Risk of injury is reduced by performing these movement stretches.

At this point the muscles are warmed up and ready for your particular exercise routine.  After the exercise routine is completed perform static stretching to realign your muscles and to cool down, bringing your HR back to normal.

After any physical activity, there can be a build-up of lactic acid.  Stretching helps to reduce the level of lactic acid, helping to alleviate muscle pain and/or cramps.

General Stretching Guidelines

  1. Move the designated body part to a position of MILD stretch.
  2. If possible, increase the stretch to a position of mild discomfort but NOT pain.
  3. Maintain normal, relaxed breathing throughout the stretch.  DO NOT hold your breath.
  4. If you feel unbalanced while doing a standing stretch, brace yourself with one hand, using a firm support such as a counter top, wall or heavy piece of furniture.