Ergonomics / Stretching / The Thursday Stretch

The Thursday Stretch

Thursday is always the “home stretch” to Friday and then the weekend.  I like a quick Thursday or a happy hour Thursday or a Grey’s Anatomy watch night with a good girlfriend Thursday…so I thought when starting this blog that a nice stretch on Thursday was a perfect way to start your day!

Here’s to hoping many Thursdays are fun and (now) flexible 🙂

This Thursday’s Stretch: Stretching the Carpal Tunnel Nerve of the Arm

The carpal tunnel nerve (aka the Median Nerve) can be the source of irritation when pregnant and can flare again post pregnancy due to repetitive motions and strains we, as moms, put on our bodies.  Basically, holding the baby, repetitive twisting of the wrists to make bottles, the forward posture when using your pump (the devil, I hate mine!) and any repetitive typing or computer work post baby can all stress this nerve out.

This nerve travels out of your neck, under your collarbone, along your bicep, down the front of the forearm, crosses the palm side of your wrist and into the middle of your palm, into the thumb index and middle fingers.  Stress or strain in any of the muscles or tissues in it’s path can cause nerve tightness.

Here is an amazing nerve glide or “floss” for the carpal tunnel nerve.  I refer to nerve glides as “flossing” because you can truly feel the nerve loosen through the tissue much like when you floss your teeth.

5 tips for nerve gliding or flossing (read first before trying the stretch):

  1. Start slowly.  The stretch may turn on simply by bending the wrist with arm at your side.  Trust me this stretch is very powerful.  My husband tried it and was impressed by the intensity (yes, he can be a little dramatic but still start slow)!
  2. Once the stretch turns on, STOP and hold.  If you cannot raise your arm as high as my picture, start where your body tells you “yes I feel that.”
  3. Nerve stretches break classic stretching rules.  Hold for 5 maybe 10 seconds then gently lower the arm to the start position.
  4. Take a break at your desk and perform this stretch a few times during your work day.  Encourage your coworkers to stretch with you (then you will not look as odd performing this by yourself)!
  5.  Listen to your body.  If you experience an increase in your pain or symptoms, if you experience burning or tingling that does not resolve when you lower your arm, STOP the stretch.  If the problems continue, consult your provider.  The biggest mistake people make with nerve glides is overstretching or pushing through pain, that is your body talking.

Here are the step by step instructions to performing this correctly:

  • Start with your arm at your side.
  • Palm facing out away from you, bend the wrist and point all fingers toward the floor.
  • Keep elbow straight throughout the stretch.
  • SLOWLY, raise the arm up until you feel a stretch along the upper arm, forearm, wrist, palm or into the fingers.  Stop and hold the stretch here for 5-10 seconds.
  • Slowly lower the arm back to your side.  Repeat 5 repetitions.  Then repeat on the other arm.

Comment with questions or concerns right here on the blog.  I can e-talk you through the stretch if you are having problems.

**If you are currently being treated for a condition by a clinician, consult your clinician before attempting these stretches.  Always consult your physician prior to starting an exercise program.**

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