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5 Desk Exercises for Wrist Pain

A chronic discomfort in the wrist area, otherwise known as carpal tunnel syndrome, can be a cause for concern. Often, desk workers get this pain due to incorrect posture. A table placed too high could strain the wrists and cause undue discomfort. Others experience the pain from simply staying too long in front of a computer. These exercises are dedicated to relieving wrist pain at the comfort of your own desk.

How Can I Relieve Wrist Pain?

The common causes of many wrist problems are an incorrect desk height, a keyboard that is too high, or simply typing for too long. The pain can stay in the wrist, or move all the way down to the elbow and the bottom of the hand. Some people develop repetitive stress injuries.

One way to relieve pain in the wrist is by adjusting the height of your desk. This can be done by lowering your standing desk until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle and your wrists are in a neutral, comfortable position. If you have a fixed-height desk that’s too high, you can place a support pillow on your chair or simply adjust the height of your chair if possible. Having an appropriate height standing desk can help not only reduce discomfort in the hands and fingers, but also prevent stress in the legs and upper body.

Some keyboards that aren’t ergonomic keyboards can also cause symptoms of wrist injury. This is because the keys might not be angled correctly. In fact, many people have become less and less content with a standard keyboard design. To avoid putting stress on your wrists, you can purchase an ergonomic keyboard. We feature the best brands and models in this guide to ergonomic accessories.

Lastly, typing for too many hours will significantly cause strain on anyone’s joints, especially if they have a weak wrist. To combat this, you can perform a few wrist exercises. Studies show that these activities do help prevent and treat pain in the wrist area. If you’re someone who experiences chronic fatigue in the wrists, this page is for you.

How Do You Strengthen Your Weak Wrist?

Health experts agree that building strength in the wrist and hand muscles is a great way to prevent serious injury. Here are a few exercises you could perform while seated to prevent early symptoms from progressing.

  1. Tennis ball squeeze – Squeezing a small tennis ball or even a stress ball can actually build muscles in the hand and wrist, apart from relieving mental stress! Simply squeeze for 10 seconds. Go back and forth between each hand as needed.
  2. Finger stretch – You can build the muscles within your fingers with this exercise. Start with a thumbs up position in one hand. Try to push it with your other hand, but make sure your thumb is actively resisting the force. Repeat the same movements, this time pulling your thumb back. Perform the exercise again for your index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and so forth on the other hand
  3. Yoga for Wrists and Hands – Figure eightseagle pose, and an open reach are great in building wrist strength.

What Exercises Help Wrist Tendonitis?

Wrist tendonitis occurs when the tendons in the wrist become inflamed due to a sprain, injury, or repetitive everyday activities such as typing or using a computer mouse. This is different from carpal tunnel syndrome, which is caused by pinching of the nerves. If you have wrist tendonitis, there are a few exercises and stretches you can perform to ease the pain:

  1. Extended arm stretch – Extend your arm out and gently bend your wrists inward for 10 seconds. Repeat the same movement, this time bending your wrist upward for another 10 seconds. These stretches are great for relieving tension and un-pinching your nerves.
  2. Prayer pose stretch – Put your arms in a prayer position with your hands at eye level. Slowly lower your arms without breaking the prayer pose until it’s about the same height as your waist. Repeat the movement 10 times.
  3. Clenched fist – While seated, place your palms up. Gently make fists for 10 seconds, then unclench. Repeat the movement 3 times.

5 Desk Exercises for Pain in the Wrists

Here are 5 effective exercises and stretches you can do at your desk throughout the workday to avoid repetitive strain injury:

Wrist Flexion Stretch

Flexion in the wrists happens when you bend your hand forward. You can do this exercise on its own or with the help of your desk. Extend your arms forward, palms facing down. With your other hand, push one hand down without moving your arm so that the wrist is bent forward. Keep pushing your fingers towards your chest for 15 to 30 seconds with your arm still extended and elbow straight. Do this with your other hand. Perform each set three times for each side.

To do this with the help of your desk, start with a standing position. Bend your wrist on the surface of the desk so that the back of each palm is on the table and your fingers are pointed towards you. Push down on your hands, making sure your elbows are straight. Hold this wrist stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Do three sets.

Wrist Extension

This is another great exercise to combat wrist problems. Wrist extension happens when you pull your hands backwards, bending at the wrists. To perform this movement while seated, simply extend your arms out in front of you. 

Using your other hand, pull the fingers of one hand back so that the palm is facing forward. Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds, making sure your elbow is straight, before switching to the next palm. Keep repeating the wrist stretch until you’ve done 3 sets for each side.

You may also try this with your desk. To start, bend your wrist backward this time so your palm and fingers are flat on the desk. Push down on your hands, keeping your elbows straight. Hold the pose with your palm flat down for 15 to 30 seconds. 

Figure Eights

This exercise can be done with your body seated or standing up. To do this, extend your arms out in front of you. Clasp one hand with the other, making sure your fingers are interlaced with each other. With your hands pressed together, draw figure eights in the air. Each palm should alternately be on top of the other and your elbows straight. Do this for at least 15 seconds. Rest, then repeat 3 times.

Alternatively, you can do these stretches with your hands over your head and elbows straight. Keep your fingers interlaced and bend your wrist to create figure eights in the air. Your palms should be side by side, clasped together while you do this. You should feel the stretch around your wrist and in each palm.

Eagle Hand Pose

This next exercise is taken from the full-body yoga pose of the same name. It stretches out not only the wrists, but each side of the forearm as well.

Start by holding your arms at a 90-degree angle in front of you, hands above and palms facing each other. Then, cross one arm over the other with the back of each elbow touching. The backs of your palms should be touching too. Twist one hand into the side of the other so the front of your palms are now touching. 

It should look like your forearm is looped around the other one. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, then do the same with the other side on top.

Resistance Fingers

This exercise targets your fingertips as well as your wrist. Start with your thumb. First, make a “thumbs up” pose with one hand. Using your other hand, gently pull your thumb back towards you. Make sure your thumb is resisting the force of the other hand. This results in improved muscle strength.

Do this with each finger: start with your index fingers, then your middle finger, and so on. Go back on each finger as often as needed. This can also strengthen your fingertips.

We hope these stretches were helpful! Check out our site for more content on how to achieve a pain-free working lifestyle. Take a look at some of the most effective desk exercises and stretches right here.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the Home Remedy for Wrist Pain?

The above exercises are a great way to combat fatigue and chronic discomfort in the wrists. Scientific data also supports these exercises as effective in preventing and treating symptoms of wrist injuries. However, if these symptoms do progress, it’s best to consult with a wellness and healthcare professional before attempting any remedy at home.

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.