The Best Stretches for Shoulders, Elbows, and Wrists

Caring for the wrists, elbows, and shoulders with stretching exercises can help reduce pain in these areas. Tension and stiffness are common for those who regularly work at a computer, so if you notice either symptom in those areas, try these stretches to find relief.

Shoulder Stretches

A professional massaging the shoulder of a patient

Start by stretching the muscle running up the side of the neck from the shoulder to the jaw. Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. Let your arms hang gently at your sides, and bring your right ear toward the right shoulder, stopping if you feel pain. Hold the position for about 10 seconds, and then repeat on the left side. Do this three more times on each side. Next, try some shoulder rolls to improve mobility and reduce shoulder pain. Remain in the same position, but lift the shoulders toward the ears as you breathe in. Move the shoulders back and drop them down as you breathe out. Do this 10 times, then change directions for another 10 reps.

Wrist Stretches

Typing, texting, and swiping can strain the wrists and hands. Before exercising this area, warm up by rotating the wrist joints three times clockwise, then three times counter-clockwise while holding the hands in loose fists. The wrist flexor stretch and the wrist extensor stretch are exercises that alleviate stiffness in the wrists, fingers, and forearms. For the extensor stretch, hold your arm straight out and pretend you are about to high five a friend, with fingers pointed straight to the sky. Grab the fingers with the opposite hand and pull back toward your shoulder for 15 seconds. Switch your hands, and do it again. The flexor exercise is the same, except your palm should face toward your body this time.

Elbow Stretches

Playing tennis, painting, and working in carpentry can all strain the elbow joint. The wrist flexor and extensor exercises described above help counteract the effects of these repetitive motions. You can also try finger stretches that strengthen the arm muscles. Hold all five fingers together and put a rubber band around them. Slowly open and close the hand 25 times and repeat three times a day. You can use two rubber bands for extra resistance.

If your pain and discomfort persist even with these exercises, you may need medical treatment for an underlying injury. K. Mathew Warnock, MD, is an experienced orthopedic surgeon serving clients in Houston. Call 281-807-4380 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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