Relieve Wrist Pain
This article will focus on the causes of wrist pain, and the things you can do to relieve wrist pain. It also includes a step by step guide to hand stretches and proper hand posture.
Chances are if you sit at the computer for any amount of time during the day, you have experienced the agony of wrist pain. Gamers in particular are at risk of wrist pain because they stress their wrists for longer periods of time. In addition to time gamers spend on the computer for work and school, they also spend hours using their hands handling a controller or mouse. I
As a gamer, it is critical that you keep your wrists in a healthy condition and that you take steps to relieve wrist pain as needed.
Before getting into stretches and hand posture, it's important to understand how your wrists are put together, and what leads to wrist pain. Look at the image below:
Notice the close-up of the carpal tunnel, where the carpal bones and tendon sheath (a protective layer around the nerve that facilitates movement) form the wall that surrounds your median nerve. This is the main point of entry from forearm into your hand, and is what is traditionally referred to as the wrist.
Causes of Wrist Pain
While there are a number of common causes of wrist pain, including fractures and arthritis, in the case of gamers the number one cause of wrist pain will be carpal tunnel syndrome.
This occurs when the median nerve is pinched by the carpal bones, causing loss of sensation and pain. The cause of CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome) can be genetic; however, gamers will commonly find themselves with CTS from over-stressing or over-extending their wrists, often in vulnerable positions. As this happens, the tendon sheath that surrounds the median nerve becomes inflamed, putting pressure on the nerve itself. Now that you understand the anatomy of wrist pain, you will also understand how to relieve wrist pain.
Relieve Wrist Pain: Stretches and Wrist Posture
Two things that are most important to relieving wrist pain are proper hand posture on your keyboard and mouse, and daily stretches of the tendon sheath that forms the protective layer around the median nerve.
Doing so prevents the sheath from hardening and pinching the media nerve, which is the cause of CTS in the first place. Check out the infographic below to see a number of steps that should be taken in order to prevent wrist pain.
Proper hand posture while typing or holding a mouse is key to relieving wrist pain. You want to have your wrist lying flat (or as close to flat as possible) with your hands positioned horizontally. Avoid elevating your arm or hand, which will create tension in your wrist.
Follow the infographic for proper wrist stretching technique. Below are details for each individual stretch by number.
- Slowly pull your hand to a vertical position using your opposite hand. Be careful not to do this too quickly, or stress the wrist too far.
- Push your hand toward the ventral side of your wrist (the opposite of the first stretch), again paying attention to your own flexibility levels to avoid over stressing the wrist.
- Using a stress ball, alternate between squeezing and relaxing your hand
- Hold your hand out in front of you and slowly separate your fingers until they are at the maximum distance from one another
- Flex your hand in a curling motion with your wrist at a slight angle
- Pull your hand in the opposite direction in an open position
- Slowly move your hand from side to side (laterally)
- Curl and un-curl your hand
- Lay your arm flat so that the ventral side is facing up
- Keeping your arm flat, grasp a stress ball and slowly move your hand upwards until your palm is vertical
- Again lay your arm flat, this time with the dorsal side up
- Holding a stress ball, pull your hand towards you
And if you're also having trouble with back pain, check out our guide to relieving back pain.