Upper limb stretches to relieve hand, wrist, and arm pain

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As many DSE workers will know, spending hours typing at the computer can put strain on your hands, wrists, and arms. Fortunately, there are some simple upper limb stretches that can help ease the discomfort. In combination with an optimal desk configuration, these will keep you and your team safe and comfortable. (Not sure if your employees have the correct workstation set-up? Arrange a DSE assessment)

In the meantime, read on for our top tips on relieving hand, wrist and arm pain at work.

What causes upper limb pain at work?

Typing and using a mouse involve a lot of repetitive movements. When you’re carrying out these motions all day, every day, it can cause strain and fatigue in the muscles. 

Repetitive strain injuries and carpal tunnel are just two common desk injuries office workers face, and your risk of developing them is higher if you don’t optimise the way you work. For instance, if your keyboard and mouse are not properly positioned, you may overextend your wrists. Likewise, if your desk is too high, it may force your hands and forearms to sit awkwardly. And while poor posture may often be connected to back pain, it can also put pressure on your arms. 

If you’ve noticed any aching, twinges, or tension, it could suggest that you don’t have the best desk set-up. A DSE assessment will help identify which areas of your workstation you could improve to reduce the risk of hand, wrist, and arm pain. 

Stretches to relieve hand, wrist, and arm pain

By moving and stretching your arms, wrists, and hands, you increase blood flow to the muscles and release endorphins. You also activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which encourages those tense and tight muscles to relax. 

Whether you’re already experiencing upper limb discomfort or want to prevent it from becoming an issue, regularly carrying out the following exercises should help.

Remember, when stretching, you should never feel extreme pain. Start gently and increase the stretch or pressure only if you feel safe and comfortable doing so.

Fan stretch

It might be surprising just how much tension we hold in our fingers, especially when writing or typing for a long time. This stretch is ideal for getting into the muscles throughout your palms as well as at the base of your fingers.

First, make a tight fist with each hand, then open your hands wide, stretching the fingers as 

much as possible. Repeat the action about ten times.

Thumb touches

Another great exercise for keyboard users, this simple motion can be repeated as many times as you need. You can do one hand at a time or both together. 

Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinky finger and release. Do the same thing again but touch your thumb to your ring finger. Repeat with your middle and index fingers. 

Start gently, then exaggerate the movement with each round.

Wrist rolls

As the name suggests, this movement can help relieve tension in the wrists. 

To start, create a soft fist with each hand – you can stand or sit, whichever is most comfortable. Then roll your wrists ten times clockwise and ten times anticlockwise.

Desk press

An excellent way to stretch the backs of your hands is to sit at your desk, place your hands palm up against the bottom of the desk, and press upwards for 5 to 10 seconds.

Forearm flexor stretch

This stretch is good for relieving tension in the full length of your forearm, from wrist to elbow crease.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your right arm in front of you with the palm open and facing upwards. Then use your left hand to gently press the right hand down so the right fingers point towards the ground. You should feel a stretch along your inner wrist and forearm. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds. 

Repeat the stretch on the other arm.

Work safely and comfortably with Workhappy

Taking just a few minutes each day to do these stretches can help reduce tension and strain. But for many businesses, there’s no getting away from the need to use display screen equipment which carries the risk of upper limb discomfort.

To ensure your team have the best desk set-up possible, consider booking a DSE assessment. The Workhappy team will make sure your employees have the correct keyboard, mouse, and monitor placement to reduce the risk of hand, wrist, and arm pain. 

For more help with neck strain, take a look at our advice hub post on suitable stretches to relieve neck tension.

Feel free to get in touch for more information.