Your hands perform a variety of tasks every day, whether gripping a steering wheel or typing on a keyboard. These repetitive motions, however, can create weakness and stiffness in your wrist and fingers. Practicing simple exercises helps prevent or aid injury to strengthen your wrists and keep hands and fingers flexible.

Why Stretch?

Wrist exercises increase flexibility and help lower the risk of injury. While stretches are recommended as a preventive measure or to ease slight pain, if you experience inflammation or serious damage, exercises could cause more harm to your wrists or hands. Always speak with your doctor to determine the exact cause of your wrist pain before attempting new stretches or treatments.

Simple Stretches

There are several easy stretches you can do at your desk at work. If you don’t feel comfortable doing them in your workspace, grab a conference room or take a break and head outside.

Praying Position Stretches

  • While standing, place palms together in praying position with elbows touching each other. Hands should be in front face; lower arms should be touching each other from tips of fingers to elbows.
  • Keeping palms pressed together, slowly spread elbows apart while lowering hands to waist height until they are in front of belly button. (Lower hands as far as you can until you feel the stretch.)
  • Hold 10 to 30 seconds, and repeat.

Extended Arm

  • Extend one arm in front of you at shoulder height.
  • Keep palm down, facing the floor.
  • Drop your wrist, with fingers pointing downward.
  • With your free hand, gently grasp fingers and pull them back toward your body.
  • Hold 10 to 30 seconds.
  • To stretch the opposite direction, extend arm with your palm facing up toward the ceiling.
  • With your free hand, gently press fingers down, causing them to point at the floor, and gently pull finger back toward the body.
  • Hold 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat steps with other arm, and cycle through stretches two or three times with each arm.

Clenched Fists

  • While seated, place your open hands on your thighs with palms up.
  • Close hands, slowly, into fists. Do not clench too tightly.
  • Keeping your forearms touching your legs, raise fists off the leg and back toward the body, bending at the wrist.
  • Hold 10 seconds. (You should feel the stretch in your wrists.)
  • Lower fists back to leg, and slowly open hands wide.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Build Strength

Whether at home or in the office—with our without props to aid you—there are various ways to build wrist strength.

Desk Press

  • While seated, place palms (face up) under a desk and press against the bottom of the desk.
  • Hold five to 10 seconds.
  • This builds strength in the muscles that run from your wrists to your inner elbow.

Tennis Ball Squeeze

  • Squeeze a tennis ball (or a stress ball) firmly for five to 10 seconds.
  • This should not be painful but should allow you to strengthen your wrist.

Thumb Work

  • Push: make a fist and point your up (like you’re giving a thumbs-up sign).
  • Gently pull back on your thumb with your free hand.
  • The key is to create resistance with your thumb and hand muscles to keep your thumb from moving.
  • Hold and repeat.
  • Pull: make a fist and point your thumb up
  • This time, use your free hand to gently push the thumb forward. Again, the key is to create resistance with your thumb and hand muscles to try and keep your thumb pointing up toward the ceiling.
  • Hold and repeat.

Yoga for Wrists & Hands

Figure Eights

  • Interlace fingers in front of your body.
  • Keeping elbows tucked to sides, move your interlaced hands in a figure eight motion, allowing your wrists to rotate fully until each hand is alternately and repeatedly on top of the other.
  • Perform this exercise for 10 to 15 seconds. Rest, and repeat.

Overhead Reach

  • While seated, lift arms over your head and interlace fingers with palms together.
  • Keeping fingers interlaced, turn palms up until they are facing the ceiling (you can keep your arms slightly bent or straighten them).
  • Hold, bring arms down, and repeat.
  • This stretches the muscles in the forearms and hands, increases flexibility, and boosts circulation.

Eagle Arms

Adapted from Eagle Pose.

  • Extend arms forward, parallel to the floor.
  • Cross right over left, with the right arm above.
  • Bend elbows. Place your right elbow into the crook of the left. The backs of your hands should be touching.
  • Lift arms while resisting the urge to lift shoulders.
  • The thumb of your right hand should pass in front of the little finger of your left.
  • Press palms together, lift your elbows up, and stretch the fingers, pointed toward the ceiling.