2 essential exercises for wrist-hand health: repost

You understand that investing in proactive self-care is better than losing peace of mind/heart, time, energy, and money in curing a preventable disease.  You understand that to the extent we shine with good health, we help others to shine by our very emanations and thus we perform a service to Life–a level of “teaching without teaching” as described by the Daoists.

Conversely, where we suffer with ill health, our emanations can contribute to the suffering of others–whether they be the ones who love us the most or strangers who observe us in our self-created plight. Modern research into mirror neurons confirms that these phenomena are wired into our human architecture.

Now do you wait until your car is smoking under the hood to change the oil? Do you wait until you’ve hydroplaned and wrecked your car in a rainstorm to change the tires? No! We proactively change our oil and replace our tires because it’s just the right thing to do.

Aren’t you way more precious than your car?

Aight–enough of this preamble; let’s get on to some work. Below is a modified repost of a piece originally published last year around this time.

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Today we discuss and demonstrate two beneficial range of motion exercises for the upper extremities’ distal joints–the wrist and hand. This post is a logical extension of last month’s piece on foundation level exercises for the shoulder and elbow joints.

Please don’t mistake simple for unimportant! While most of us over the course of a normal day’s activities move our hands and arms about quite a bit, the probabilities are  that these movements fall within a narrow range of expression. Examples include data entry operators at their computer keyboards, golfers repetitively swinging clubs, artists with their pens/brushes/styli. The exercises below are easy to execute, and will introduce variability of movement in the rich network of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joint spaces of the forearm, wrist, palm, and fingers. To use the parlance of Traditional Oriental Medicine, these exercises proactively invigorate the flow of Qi and blood to prevent Wind, Cold, and Dampness from lodging in the Channels.

Note: supplementary video follows below

Wrist Rotatives

Method: Standing or sitting comfortably with shoulders relaxed and spine upright, think that you want to draw an expansive circle in the sky with the tips of the middle fingers.  Let both wrists execute in one direction, then the other.

Feeling: The functional chain of the hand-wrist joint-forearm all work together to execute the movement, let there be a lightly energized feeling in these areas. Imagining that the surrounding air has the thickness of water may help. The movement is smooth, without any clenching up of the muscles. As you proceed through the exercise, there naturally occurs 1) a simultaneous lengthening and contracting on opposite sides of the forearm-wrist-hand and 2) the activation of muscles which internally rotate and externally rotate the forearm; practice sensing these.

Suggested Dose: 4-8 circles with both wrists in one direction, then the other is one set. Practice one to two sets daily. I recommend you join this with the Hands Opening and Closing below as well as with ROM exercises for the neck and for the shoulder and elbow joints.

Caution: careful in cases of active injury of wrist &/or hand, carpal tunnel syndrome.

Variation: the above description has the wrists and hand moving clockwise and counter-clockwise in tandem. You can also practice with the limbs moving oppositionally; that is, one side clockwise with the other counter-clockwise and vice versa

Hands Opening and Closing

Method: Widely open and robustly close the hands for the decided-upon number of reps.

Feeling: Let there be an intentional energizing of the muscles, tendons, and joints. When opening, think that you are gently opening up the joint spaces and feel a light stretch in the palm and palmar surfaces of the fingers. When closing, energize the joint with a light clenching

Suggested Dose: 4 to 8 reps constitute one set. Do one or two sets daily, together with the wrist rotatives and other suggestions above.

Caution: nothing new here, do not practice this with active injury or if pain appears while you do the exercise

Variation: start with one hand open and the other closed; practice with the hands opening and closing in opposition

Supplementary video best viewed in full-screen mode


Even when our proactive wellness game is tip-top, we need help from time to time from qualified health professionals. Justin Jaucian, MS, L.Ac is a NJ Board Certified Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist whose practice specializes in preventive wellness and pain relief. Follow the links for office locations and testimonials.

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