By Guest Blogger Dr. Mark Galland
The core of my practice is sports medicine, but injuries can and do affect anyone and everyone. As we rely more heavily on technology – the average person uses a desktop computer, a smartphone and an iPad in any given day – the frequency of chronic overuse injuries is increasing.
Ailments like epicondylitis (tennis elbow), carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendinitis are generally caused by repetitive use of the forearm, wrist and hand muscles. These problems can be degenerative in nature and can be extremely uncomfortable and activity-limiting. Ergonomics, the study of efficiency in the workplace, can offer many solutions and adjustments for reducing the severity and frequency of these problems.
In addition to ergonomics, however, I would like to offer my own advice: Take five minutes to stretch.
Taking just five minutes in the mid-morning and another five minutes in the afternoon to do these three simple stretches will go a long way to keeping your arms limber and pain free, hopefully for years.
1. Epicondylitis Stretch – Epicondyle is the medical term for the bony area of your elbow where your wrist and forearm muscles attach. You have a medial epicondyle for the muscles that flex your wrist and enable you to pronate (turn your palm toward the floor). You also have a lateral epicondyle for the muscles that extend your wrist and allow you to supinate (turn your palm up). In order to stretch these muscles, you should reach your arm out in front of you with your elbow straight and use your opposite arm to bend the wrist into flexion. Hold 20 seconds. Then, keeping your elbow straight, pull your wrist into extension. Hold 20 seconds. Repeat each way one more time.
2. Wrist Rotation– Keeping your wrist poised while typing all day can cause stiffness, pain and contribute to carpal tunnel. To give your wrist a break, make a loose fist and rotate your wrists in circles for about 20 seconds. Go on to stretch your hands (exercise 3) then repeat for 20 more seconds.
3. Hand/Finger Stretch– Give your hands a break from typing, emailing, texting, tweeting, blogging and entering data. For this stretch, you want to spread your hands and fingers out as wide as you can and then make a tight fist. Open your hand and widen your fingers, then pull it back into a fist. Repeat about 10 times.
Three exercises. Five minutes. Make them a part of your daily routine until it becomes a habit, just like brushing your teeth. I would be happy to see you in my office for any problem any time, but if I can help keep you healthy, that is even better.
“Take five to stretch.”
Dr. Mark Galland is a Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon specializing in sports medicine, practicing in Wake Forest and North Raleigh. He serves as team physician and orthopaedic consultant to the Carolina Mudcats, AA Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball, as well as several area high schools and colleges. Dr. Galland can be reached at (919) 562-9410 or by visiting www.orthonc.com or www.drmarkgalland.com.