3 Wrist Stretches Every Person Who Types All Day Should Do on Repeat

Photo: Getty Images/ 10'000 Hours
If you’re like me and spend your days behind a computer screen, you may also be feeling a good bit of wrist pain and finger fatigue as a result of typing for a living. Thankfully, with a few simple wrist stretches for desk workers—courtesy of Jeff Brannigan, the program director at Stretch*d—you can alleviate pain and keep continued discomfort at bay. Best part is, it’ll only take you a minute.

“The unfortunate truth is that the more time you spend at a computer or desk, the more likely you are to experience some level of wrist pain,” Brannigan says. Before you begin your work, he recommends first noting how you’re holding your wrists, specifically whether or not they’re in a neutral position. “It's best to avoid having a setup that forces your wrists to sit at an angle for a prolonged period of time,” Brannigan says. “This may mean that you need to adjust the height of your desk, keyboard, or chair. Ideally, you're able to sit with a straight spine, shoulders relaxed, screen at eye level and your hips slightly above your knees.”

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Throughout the day, check in with your body. If you’re feeling a bit more fidgety or even fatigued, it may be trying to tell you to stop and reassess. “Don't wait until you feel the pain to do something about it,” Brannigan says. That could result in carpal tunnel syndrome down the line, which would require doing carpal tunnel exercises and working with a doctor or physical therapist. Before the trouble starts, Brannigan recommends carving out time, every 30 minutes or so, to stop, take a break, and do a few quick moves to release tension like these wrist stretches for desk workers below.

3 wrist stretches for desk workers to help alleviate pain and tension

1. Wrist flexors

Extend your right arm straight in front of you at shoulder height, palm facing up. Then take you left hand and gently press the fingers on your right hand down toward the floor. Keep the elbow straight and shoulder relaxed. When you feel the stretch in the front of your right wrist, hold it for 2–3 seconds, relax the wrist, and repeat 8 to 10 times then switch arms.

2. Wrist extensors

With your right arm straight out in front of you and palm up, make a light fist with your hand. Keeping that elbow straight, grab the fist with your other hand and gently bend your right hand toward you. (Make sure that you keep the fist closed.) You should feel a stretch along the back of your hand, wrist, and forearm. Once you feel it, hold the stretch for 2–3 seconds, relax the wrist, and repeat 8 to 10 times then switch sides.

3. Thumbs down

Extend your right arm straight in front of you, palm facing down, thumb pointing inward. Grab your thumb with opposite hand and hold in place while you rotate arm so pinky points down toward floor.  You should feel a stretch along the outside of the thumb and wrist. Once you feel it, hold the stretch for 2–3 seconds, relax the wrist, and repeat 8 to 10 times then switch sides.

Stretching before and during work is great, but so is ending your day with a wind down stretch session in bed. Try this one tonight: 

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