Stretching and Wrist Strengthening Exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Shahid Iquebal   by Shahid Iquebal, M.Pharm.    Last updated on October 3, 2019,

wrist strengthening exercises

Can stretching exercises prevent carpal tunnel syndrome? What are the stretching exercises that can help in your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms?

Stretching exercises of the muscles surrounding the wrist can help in reviving the condition of tendons which pass through the carpal tunnel and can help in maintaining good health of tendons. These exercises can help in easing the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome along with other treatments and if followed earlier can help in preventing the carpal tunnel syndrome too. You should always do these exercises in consultation with your health care provider.

Some of the stretching exercises to help ease your carpal tunnel syndrome are:

Forearm stretch

You can begin by sitting upright in a chair, adjust yourself so that your upper body is directly over your sit bones and your spine is in straight and neutral position.

keeping your palms facing down, extend both the arms directly in front of your body and turn your fingers toward the walls on either sides until you feel a gentle stretch along the inside of your forearms. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat it 2-3 times a day.

Wrist extension

In a seating or standing position, extend one arm in front of your body at shoulder level with your fingers pointing upward, then hold your fingertips with the other hand and gently pull them towards your body until you feel a stretch under your wrist. Keep holding it for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat this by switching the sides.

Finger flexion and extension

You can begin this stretch by sitting upright in a chair. Adjust yourself so that your upper body is directly over your sit bones and your spine is in straight and neutral position.

Keeping your palms facing down, extend both the arms directly in front of you and flex your fingers inward to create a “claw”. Then, gently spread your fingers as far apart as you can. You can repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times every 30 minutes while on the desk at work or when you are working on a computer screen.

Wrist extension and flexion with weight

In a seating position, rest your forearm on a desk or table such that your wrist is hanging off with the palm facing down. Now, hold a light dumbbell in the hanging hand and flex your wrist upward while maintaining a contact of the desk with your forearm.

Now, gently return to the starting position and repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times. Repeat all the steps in sequence except holding the dumbbell with palm facing up.

Grip strengthening


Take a soft ball such as tennis or "stress relief" ball or some hand putty and grasp it so that the pads of your fingers are firmly holding the ball or the putty. Now, simply squeeze and release and repeat this motion for 5 to 10 times.

More: Physical Therapy and Exercises after Carpal Tunnel Surgery

More: Exercises to Relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain

Wrist strengthening exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome

Wrist strengthening exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome will mainly help to prevent future injuries. After a significant period of immobilization, the muscles may have weakened considerably, leaving you open to future injuries.

Healthy and strong wrist muscles also help in ensuring that your wrist is working properly and can support you during daily activities, such as using machinery or typing which can prevent the recurrence of carpal tunnel.

Isometric carpal tunnel wrist exercise

For wrist strengthening, you should start with isometric exercises which involve contracting the muscles against resistance, without any movement. These exercises should be used at the first point of strengthening. This can be done by following the steps mentioned below in a sequential manner.

  • With your affected hand, make a firm fist.
  • Now, place the other palm on top of your hand near the knuckles.
  • Try to extend your lower wrist using the hand on top to resist the movement resulting in contraction of the lower hand.
  • Try to hold each contraction for between 5 & 10 seconds, gradually increasing as required.
  • Repeat this for 5 to 10 times in one session.
  • You can also modify this for wrist flexion where you can use your good hand to apply resistance as you try to flex the wrist.
  • Once you are able to perform 10 repetitions of 10 second holds, you can move to wrist flexion and wrist extension

More: Carpal Tunnel Pain: What Relieves Carpal Tunnel Pain?

Wrist extension and wrist flexion

This is more difficult than an isometric exercise. It involves your wrist movement while holding some weight. This can be performed by using either a dumbbell of 1-2 kg or a resistance band.

First, rest your forearm on a table, bench or even your lap and perform very slowly under complete control. Extend the wrist away from yourself. You should start with 10 repetitions and gradually increase up to two sets of 20 repetitions.

Follow the same for wrist flexion by turning the wrist over so the back of the arm/wrist are resting on a table or bench and curl your wrist up towards you.