Stretches to ease desk-related shoulder, arm, and wrist pain

Many professionals who spend most or all their time at a desk or in the same position for hours on end can experience pain and numbness as a result of inactivity.  

Repetitive bending and extension of the wrist can lead to symptoms such as tingling, numbness, weakness, pain, and more. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of one condition caused by a compressed nerve in the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist. Even if you don’t suffer from this particular condition, many people who sit at desks all day experience some form of shoulder, arm, or wrist pain over the course of their careers.

There are medical treatments that can address the symptoms you’re experiencing, but certain poses and stretches can go far to alleviate pain and numbness, too. If you’re looking for a little something to make your hands, arms, and shoulders a bit more relaxed, try out some of these stretches!

Please note: We are not medical specialists. These are general recommendations for improving blood flow and muscle strength in key upper body areas. If any pain or discomfort happens when doing these poses/stretches stop immediately. Talk to your doctor about further treatment as needed. 

Movements 

Incorporating these movements throughout the day can minimize carpal tunnel symptoms and other stressors due to sedentary work. If you can, try to take a break every hour or so to do 1-2 of these stretches. 

Hands 

Release the tension in hands and increase blood flow with these movements: 

Bend wrists forward and backward

bend back wrists   bend back fingers

Shake your hands out to release tension and draw blood flow down to your fingers.

twist wrists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open and close hands, squeezing slightly.

clench fists   spread hands

Forearms 

Stand up reverse your fingers facing you on the table and apply slight pressure

press palms to table

Reach your arms behind your neck

clasp hands

Touch hands to shoulders and cross

 touch shoulder blades

Shoulders

For each of these moves, make sure to switch your arms, right on top then left on top, back and forth. You don’t want to feel crooked!

Reach around your body to give your shoulders a hug.

hug self

“Cactus your arms.” Open and face forearms together, holding each pose for a few seconds each time.

Preventative 

To truly ease carpal tunnel in the long term, it’s important to avoid repetitive movements whenever possible. Anything from texting to typing can risk exacerbating reactions of carpal tunnel and related strains.  

Take frequent breaks. Make certain that your desk set-up is ergonomic. These are other ways to help lessen your aches and pains while working as a legal professional. 

What strategies have you found help with pain or numbness in your hands, arms, and shoulders? Share your strategies to ease carpal tunnel symptoms in the comments.   

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About the Author

Lili Daniel leads the Customer Success team at One Legal. She has a decade of legal support service experience and is a member of a number of legal professional associations. She was a board member of the San Gabriel Valley Legal Secretaries Association from 2012 to 2014. When Lili isn’t running around in the legal community, she is teaching yoga to the masses as a yoga instructor in Pasadena.

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