Keep your hands healthy this fall with exercise and stretch breaks
By Jeff Humphrey, PT, MPT, CHT, CEAS
Published in the Courtland Voice
Fall can give your hands a workout that brings stiffness and pain from outdoor sports to preparing your gardens, car and house for approaching winter months.
That aching is often called tendonitis and usually caused by excessive use or unconditioned use of the tendons in your wrists and fingers. Repetitive or prolonged activities such as carpentry, painting, gardening, sewing and knitting can all be triggers. Wrist tendonitis may also occur from other activities involving forceful or repetitive gripping of the hand commonly done during fall house and car cleaning. Using vibratory equipment such as a lawnmower or power tools can also irritate wrist and hand tendons.
The symptoms associated with tendonitis usually begin with an ache or stiffness in the wrist and hand following an activity. Typically, the achiness is felt at night or the following morning. As the condition progresses, pain may be felt with every day activities involving the wrist and fingers such as opening containers, shaking hands, or typing. The pain and stiffness often decrease once the muscles in the hand and wrists have been ‘warmed up’ from an activity or massage, but those symptoms usually increase when waking up the next morning. Some patients have the feeling of numbness and weakness in their fingers and hands making fine movements of the hand, gripping and holding objects difficult.
The best way to avoid tendonitis is not overdoing any activities that use a lot of wrist motion – particularly if you have not been regularly exercising during the winter. Be careful about suddenly increasing activities that may stress your tendons.