Stretching - The Solution to Repetitive Strain Injuries?

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Computers and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

To stretch or not to stretch.This is a question that has been posed by many people in their quest to eliminate repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, guyon's syndrome, tendonitis and many other upper extremity disorders.

The answer is yes, stretching in most cases is important in order to increase the length of tight, restrictive tissues. But there is a catch. Lets use the wrist and forearm as an example. If you stretch and lengthen one side of the hand and forearm, say the front side, you need to strengthen and shorten the opposing side, or back of the hand and forearm. If you just stretch one side and then do not perform exercises to the opposing muscle group, the tissues that were stretched go right back to where they were as there is nothing stopping them from returning back to their original position.

This is where the strengthening exercises come in. By contracting and shortening the opposing muscle group, or back of hand and forearm, the length created through stretching the front of the hand and forearm is maintained, keeping the muscles from returning to their original position.
   

Stretching alone is NOT the answer. A well-rounded solution is to perform both stretches and exercises in order to create balance around the joint. This is true with ANY and ALL joints. Be aware of the following when you implement a stretching program:

•  Perform stretches while in a properly aligned position
•  Don't strain or stretch too far-never stretch to the point of pain
•  Increase the stretch only after you feel yourself / muscles relax
•  Breathe slowly while stretching
•  Do not hold your breath while stretching
•  Do not overstretch beyond a point to where you feel pain
•  Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds to allow the muscle to relax
•  Repeat each stretch 2-3 times
•  Think about the area being stretched (Be in tune with your body)
•  If you feel pain ease off to a more comfortable position
•  If pain continues consult your doctor
•  Stretch within your limits
•  Your flexibility may vary daily so do not try to overdo it if your body says "no"
•  Adjust each stretch to your own level of flexibility
•  Stretching is important to maintain flexibility so be sure to stretch as least 3-days per week.
•  Follow up exercises are important to maintain the effects of the stretch. Perform these exercises immediately to the opposing muscle group(s) that was just stretched in order to maintain structural balance.

Stay Healthy - Your Health is in YOUR Hands!

Author: Mr. Anliker is a Therapist and Inventor of Therapeutic Exercise Products that are utilized by Corporations, Consumers and Medical Facilities around the world for the prevention and rehabilitation of repetitive strain injuries.