Stretching exercises

Due to our daily work our muscles shorten and become stiff. With stretching we can reduce muscle tension and maintain or restore the original range of motion. Although the stretching exercises for the forearms are most important, you should also perform all other exercises regularly, because the entire upper body is affected by non-ergonomic working positions.

Please don't overdo it in the first few days. No (additional) pain should appear. If you haven't used your hands for an extended period of time and have possibly even worn wrist splints, then it will take at least a week before any improvement might be felt. My wrist pain became significantly worse after the first two days, so I had to take a break again. From the second week onwards I felt a slight improvement almost after each stretch.

In acute RSI cases, you should perform all exercises 2-3 times a day for about 15-20 seconds each (unless indicated otherwise). Even if you only have problems with one hand, you should still perform all the exercises with both sides. Throughout the day you will need about 30-45 minutes in total. As prevention it is sufficient if you perform all exercises just once daily (see treatment plans). It is better to hold a stretch longer and make fewer iterations, than to hold it shorter and do more iterations.

At first I did all stretching exercises sequentially (with the help of a list of all exercises), and then started to work. By the time I had internalized most stretches, I was able to flexibly integrate them into my workday. This also helps with the regular PC breaks. But don't pressure yourself with all those stretching exercises! If you forget some of them at times, that won't make a huge difference. Also there is no fixed order, rotate the sequence.

With sensory disturbances, numbness or tingling in the hands or arms, you should have a look at the page passive stretching exercises as well (please have a doctor rule out a spinal disc herniation beforehand).

All exercises / activities on this page are only suggestions. For your individual complaints some will be more useful than others. Print out this page and discuss all the information with a doctor or physical therapist before trying them out. You do everything at your own risk!

Stretching of the wrist extensor

With straight arms, hold both hands in front of your hip area and bend the wrists to the right (palms facing up). Now you embrace the four fingers of your right hand with your left hand and pull it up (figure 1). After ten seconds, you rotate the right hand by almost 180° and stop again for ten seconds (figure 2). Finally, turn it forward as far as possible (figure 3). Repeat this exercise with the other hand. Make sure not to pull up your shoulders during the exercise. Video tutorial (I'll create an own video soon which fits my three images better.)


Stretching wrist flexor

Lean against a wall with your arms straight. Rotate the hands inwards as far as possible, hold for ten seconds (figure 1). Then turn them upwards, without lifting them from the wall. Hold for another ten seconds (figure 2). Finally rotate your hands outwards as far as possible (figure 3).


Forearm stretching

Press your palms against each other and slide both arms in one direction (right or left). Hold this position for at least 20 seconds and slide your arms in the other direction then.

Finger stretching

Splay out your fingers and press the fingertips of both hands against each other.

Stretching fingers

Make a fist and then open the hand very slowly (ten seconds) while trying to hold all fingers in a flexed position.

Chest stretch

Interlace your hands behind your back and pull both arms upward.

Thumb stretch

Hold your arm straight, make a fist with your thumb inside and tilt your hand slightly downward.

Head stretch

This exercise consists of eight different head positions. Each one should be performed for about ten seconds:

  1. Forward
  2. In the direction of the armpit
  3. To the side (towards the shoulder)
  4. Backward
  5. Backward & to the side

Positions two, three and five each to the right and left.
To enhance the stretching effect, you can gently pull the opposite arm down.

Full body stretch

Hold your arms above your head and bend your upper body to one side.

Lower back stretch

Bend your upper body forward and hold for about 10 seconds. Twist your upper body a little bit and hold again.

Arm-chest stretch

Standing sideways against a wall, lean against it with your forearm (elbow joint greater than 90°) and push your upper body slightly forward. The stretch should be felt in the chest/armpit area.

Shoulder stretch

Place one arm on the opposite shoulder and lean against a wall, touching it just with your elbow.

Triceps stretch

Try to hook your hands behind your back. If that doesn't work for you, you can also push down the upper elbow (right arm in the image) with the other arm.

Neck stretch

Pull the head back and hold for 10 seconds. Subsequently push the chin lightly back some more with your hand and hold again.

Corkscrew stretch

Lie on your back, slide one leg over the other, pull the elevated knee to a 90° angle and press it on the ground lightly. In extension of the straight leg, raise one arm and try to press it on the ground (in the most uncomfortable position). After a minute slowly unwind yourself and repeat the exercise with the other leg/arm. Video tutorial

If you want to get a deeper insight into "stretching" I can recommend the book Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Repetitive Strain Injuries by Sharon J. Butler (price: ).

PDF All images in one pdf document

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