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A Delicate Network: Fingers, Hands and Wrists

Are you feeling stiffness in your fingers, hands and wrists? An injury to the fingers, hands or wrists can cause severe pain, loss of fine motor skills, and inability to perform simple daily movements.

Perhaps you have noticed that daily activities such as pushing a door, pulling a door, lifting a coffee cup, opening a jar, lifting groceries, typing on the computer keyboard, using your cell phone, writing, knitting, etc. cause some discomfort in your fingers, hands and wrists.

The discomfort may be short lived or last for a few weeks and then magically go away, only to return later. A common issue for those new or returning to exercise is that their wrists and forearms hurt when performing exercise movements involving the arms, such as push-ups and bicep curls.

To prevent the return of or reduce stiffness and pain, there are three things you may want to add to your daily or weekly routine. As a starting point, try once a week. If the relief is temporary, then you may want to consider adding another day or more until you find what works best to provide longer lasting relief for your body.

  1. Trigger point release (myofascial release).

  2. Stretches

  3. Strengthening Exercises

Trigger Point Release

Trigger points feel like knots under your skin. When the area is rolled out on a hard or semi-hard surface (e.g., foam roller, rolling pin, tennis ball, double lacrosse ball etc.) you may feel nothing, feel like you are getting a good massage or feel a lot of discomfort. What you feel depends on the tightness in the muscles, fascia and ligaments.

Releasing the knot or tension by applying pressure on the area and holding for at least 30 seconds before stretching is optimal. A good visual to keep in mind before you decide to not do trigger point release and just perform stretching and strength training: 1) pulling on a knot only makes it tighter; 2) strengthening the muscles around a knot may make the knot bigger, impact your range of motion or even increase the soreness in your muscles after a workout.

Below are a few areas to roll out and apply gentle and deep pressure. My preferred tool is the double lacrosse ball but you may use a foam roller, rolling pin or tennis ball.

In a comfortable seated or standing position next to a flat surface, roll across the area 1-2 times to determine if you have any knots or tight areas. Hold on knots for 30 seconds; if no knots, then roll back and forth 4-5 times on the area while applying deep consistent pressure.

  1. Top of forearm (roll from elbow to top of hand to knuckles)

  2. Inside of forearm (roll from elbow to inner palm)

  3. Outer edge forearm (roll from elbow to side of hand along the pinky finger)

  4. Inner edge of forearm (roll from elbow to side of hand along the thumb)


Stretching your hands and wrists will improve their flexibility. Flexibility is described as the range of motion you have at a joint. If your range of motion becomes limited in your fingers, hands and wrists then it becomes harder to perform daily activities such as lifting a cup, using a spoon, making your bed, opening a car door, holding a pen, book, cell phone or weights.

Below are a few stretches to improve flexibility in your fingers, hands and wrists. If you have never performed stretching for your fingers, hands or wrists then you may want to hold the stretches for a shorter time period.

  1. Prayer Pose (2 sets, 15-30 sec hold)

  2. Inverted Prayer Pose (2 sets, 15-30 sec hold)

  3. Wrist Flexor Stretch (2 sets, 15-30 sec hold)

  4. Wrist Extensor Stretch (2 sets, 15-30 sec hold)

  5. Wrist Windshield Washer (1 set, 10 repetitions, 3-5 sec hold)

  6. Finger Claw (1 set, 10 repetitions, 3-5 sec hold)

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening the muscles in your fingers, hands and wrists will help improve the mind-body connection so that you reduce the chances of injuring the delicate network of muscles and tendons in your arms. When performing strengthening exercises, I highly recommend a slow and controlled pace. A slow pace will help you build that fine-motor control so you don’t strain a muscle, tendon or ligament when working out or performing your daily activities. The good form and pace you learn at the gym greatly reduces the chances of injury when applied to your daily life activities.

  1. Wrist Windshield Washer (1 set, 10 repetitions)

  2. Wrist Lift Up (15 oz soup can or 1 lb weight, 1 set, 10 repetitions)

  3. Wrist Curl Up (15 oz soup can or 1 lb weight, 1 set, 10 repetitions)

  4. Finger Walk (1 set, 5 repetitions)

  5. Finger Bow (1 set, 5 repetitions)


Imrana G. Kazam, PhD, NBC-HWC, CPT, CES, WLS

Personal Trainer, The GYM @ Milford


Shah JP, Thaker N, Heimur J, Aredo JV, Sikdar S, Gerber L. Myofascial trigger points then and now: a historical and scientific perspective. PM R. 2015;7(7):746-761. doi:10.1016/j.pmrj.2015.01.024

Behm DG, Blazevich AJ, Kay AD, McHugh M. Acute effects of muscle stretching on physical performance, range of motion, and injury incidence in healthy active individuals: a systematic review. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 2016. 41 (1); 1-11.

Avery DM, Rodner CM, Edgar CM. Sports-related wrist and hand injuries: a review. J Orthop Surg Res. 2016;11(1):99. doi:10.1186/s13018-016-0432-8

Wright AR, Atkinson RE.Carpal tunnel syndrome: An update for the primary care physician. Hawaii J Health Soc Welf. 2019;78(11 Suppl 2):6–10

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