Do you find that you can't crawl around on the floor, or carry things without your wrists hurting?
A lot of women are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy - which involves compression of the median nerve due to the tunnel space narrowing, swelling or inflammation.
However sore wrists don't always automatically equal carpal tunnel syndrome.
Wrist pain in postpartum women is actually much more common than that.
Generalised wrist pain can also be a symptom of hormonal changes and joint laxity (same with sore feet - more on that later).
When the passive structures around a joint, like the tendons and ligaments (in this case the wrist) loosen off during pregnancy, it makes the entire area more unstable.
An unstable area will become weaker in an attempt to avoid injury (a preservation mechanism courtesy of the nervous system - if you can't lift anything heavy you hopefully won't get hurt). But it creates painful sensations in that area.
When this happens, we need a bigger work effort from the small muscles around the joint to help keep it secure (and pain free).
What are the things I can do to treat my wrist pain?
The best solutions are to make your exercise both therapeutic and orthopaedic.
The process of ‘grip’ is an important one as it sends nerve signals up the arm to stabilise the joints.
This process, known as irradiation, has been shown to increase strength through the entire arm.
How to start with grip activation for reducing wrist pain - with your arms by your sides, elbow at 90 degrees, squeeze your hands (all 5 fingers including the thumb) as hard as you can for 2 counts. Repeat 6-8 times.
You can use a rolled up towel for this also -and eventually something heavier, like a water bottle or ball.
BONUS - this process has been found to stabilise the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder.
Ever held a dumbbell with just your thumb, all 4 fingers pointed towards the sky?
Avoid holding weights like this if you have wrist or shoulder issues. Instead give the dumbbell a gentle squeeze to stabilise the shoulder.
This is a common technique we see a lot (especially in women’s exercise) however if you aren’t using your grip at all, you are overloading the joints.
If you have wrist issues, wrap all 5 fingers around whatever your holding and grip it with the same relative effort as the heaviness of the weight.
This position is where a lot of women notice their wrist pain, so some simple modifications can make a big difference:
Create a strong tripod with your hands when putting weight through them like this.
- Spread your palm out on the floor (fingers are neutral)
- Place your weight towards the thumb side, first 2 fingers and the base of your hand
BONUS - Do 6-8 hand squeezes (from step 1) before you do any activities on the floor like this and you should see an immediate reduction in symptoms, for at least a few minutes.
If you find these helpful you’d definitely benefit from our full ‘Upper body to Core’ sequence found in all 3 levels of The Postpartum Method, which takes you from wrist pain to chin ups.