Exercise and stretch breaks can keep your
Special to the Journal
By Mark C. Malys, PT, CHT
The warmer days
of spring can give your hands a workout from gardening, sports, and outdoor
activities that can bring stiffness and pain after a day in the sun.
tendonitis can be caused by excessive use or unconditioned use of the muscles
and tendons in your forearms and wrists. Repetitive or prolonged activities
such as racquet sports, carpentry, painting, spring clean-up,
and gardening can all be triggers. Forearm and wrist tendonitis may also occur
from other activities involving forceful or repetitive gripping of the hand
commonly done during spring house and car cleaning.
Excessive use of vibratory equipment such as lawnmowers or power tools can also
injure muscles and tendons.
associated with tendonitis can begin with pain and stiffness in the wrist and
forearm following an activity. Typically, the pain occurs during or after the
activity. As the condition progresses, pain may be felt with every day
activities involving the wrist and fingers such as opening containers, shaking
hands, or typing. Some patients can experience weakness in their fingers and
hands, making gripping and holding objects difficult.
The best way to
avoid tendonitis, if you have not been regularly exercising during the winter,
is not overdoing activities that use a lot of repetitive wrist and hand
motions. Be careful about suddenly increasing activities that stress your
muscles and tendons.
is essential in maintaining good hand health and overall wellness. Many studies
have shown that exercise can reduce pain and improve function in people who
have arthritis, another common hand issue especially for seniors. After
starting a regular exercise program, many people notice their symptoms
decrease, while their sleep and general health improves.
Check with your
physician to find out if you are ready for a regular exercise program, and
start slow to build strength and conditioning. Exercises to
prevent tendonitis and to decrease the symptoms of arthritis takes three
forms: stretching, strengthening, and conditioning.
Stretching involves moving joints and muscles
to regain their normal range of motion. These exercises include gentle stretching
and controlled movements to take joints through their full range of motion.
Doing these exercises regularly can help maintain and improve the flexibility.
If stretching is too uncomfortable, try moving the joint through its pain free
range of motion every day.
Strengthening involves moving muscles against
resistance. Strong muscles can support and protect joints, and improve tendon
Conditioning exercise improves aerobic
fitness and endurance.
components work together to improve range of motion, muscle tone and endurance,
which can improve hand function and prevent future injuries.
can be done at home, but an exercise class or gym membership may help keep you
motivated. Physical therapists and athletic trainers can show you the best ways
to exercise for your specific condition. Therapeutic yoga and tai chi are other
low-impact exercise options that are effective in reducing pain from tendonitis
and arthritis, while improving flexibility, and also helping to reduce stress.
Mark C. Malys is a Physical Therapist and a
Certified Hand Therapist with the Cayuga Health System that includes Cayuga
Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital. His areas of specialty include hand,
wrist, elbow, and shoulder therapy and Ergonomic Assessment. He has been
practicing physical therapy since 1990. You may contact him at Cayuga Medical
Center Physical Therapy at Cayuga wellness Center 607-252-3500.