3 of the Best Tips for Managing Forearm and Hand Pain
By: Nadia Lessard, Registered Massage Therapist
As a deep tissue Massage Therapist, I often get asked if my hands or wrists get sore at work. While my wrists do get sore at times, I have a few things that I implement daily to manage my forearm and hands to avoid pain. Think of it the way a contractor on a job-site might wear a hard hat to protect their head. Keep reading to learn the top three tips and exercises you can do to manage forearm and hand pain, particularly when overusing your hands and wrists during workouts or daily tasks.
Overuse injuries in the forearm and wrists, like golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow, are quite common. These issues arise from inflammation of the tendons located on the inside and outside of the elbow. Any repetitive movement (especially movement new to a person’s routine) can cause inflammation and pain of these tendons. Aggravating movements are gripping, twisting, and lifting with the arm which can really affect someone’s day-to-day activities.
Here are my 3 tips and tricks on how to avoid forearm and hand injuries.
First, you will want to warm up the forearm muscles prior to starting your work just like you would do at the beginning of a workout. The muscles attached to the tendons near the elbows are responsible for flexion (bending) and extension (straightening) of the wrist. By simply moving the wrist back and forth multiple times, you can increase the blood flow to the forearm. This movement brings oxygen to the muscles, and as a result, helps to fuel the movement and lessen your risk of injury.
Try doing this exercise 20 times in each direction.
At the end of many people’s workday, the forearm muscles are well used and fatigued. This is especially true for those who do manual labour and desk work. It can be easy to just go home and relax, but it is still important to take the time to stretch to avoid injury. Stretching keeps your muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and is significantly necessary to maintain the range of motion in your joints. Without stretching, the muscles tend to shorten and become tight, subsequently increasing your risk of injury.
Wrist Extensor Stretch:
Try these 2 exercises for three sets and a 30-second hold on each side.
Remember to only go as far with these stretches as what feels comfortable for you.
- Bend your wrists so the tips of your fingers are pointed toward the floor
- While keeping one wrist bent, use your other hand to hold the stretch
- You should feel this stretch on the top of your forearm
- Repeat on your other wrist
Wrist Flexor Stretch
- Position your hand palm facing towards the floor.
- Hold the hand that is facing the floor with your free hand.
- Bend your wrist and bring your hand towards your body, then use your free hand as support.
- You should feel this stretch on the bottom of your forearm.
- Repeat on your other wrist.
Self-Massage or Self-Release
Depending on how sore the forearms are from your day, self-massage or self-release may help. Performing this on yourself increases the blood flow to the forearm muscles and accelerates the relaxation process.
Firstly, you can try a technique called “pincer grasp”, which equates to pinching the bulk of your forearm muscle. This is done simply by grabbing the muscle and holding it for a few seconds. Secondly, I recommend applying the same technique to the thumb muscles (webspace between the thumb and first finger or bulk of muscle at the base of the thumb), due to how they work in unison with the forearm. Given that thumbs are very reliable tools for manual jobs, it’s important that they are not neglected in recovery.
The two pictures below demonstrate how to use a lacrosse ball or tennis ball to release the same forearm muscles.
Releasing the Forearm Flexors
Perform for 1-2 minutes on the area.
Releasing the Forearm Extensors
Perform for 1-2 minutes on the area.
I hope you found these tips and tricks to manage forearm and hand pain helpful to keep your wrists and hands healthy. Remember everybody has different needs, but this routine has been helpful for me.