Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition during pregnancy that involves compression of the median nerve due to the tunnel space narrowing, swelling or inflammation.
It’s worth knowing if you have wrist pain during pregnancy and beyond, you may not automatically have carpal tunnel syndrome.
In fact quite often, generalised wrist pain is a symptom of hormonal changes and joint laxity.
When the passive structures around a joint (in this case the wrist) loosen off during pregnancy, it makes the entire area more unstable.
An unstable area will become weaker (a preservation mechanism courtesy of the nervous system) and cause pain.
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.
1 - Activate your grip strength
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.
BONUS - this process has been found to stabilise the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder.
2 - Stop holding weights loosely
Ever held a dumbbell with just your thumb, all 4 fingers pointed towards the sky?
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.
3 - Change the weight distribution when your hands are on the floor
This position is where a lot of women notice their wrist pain, so some simple modifications can make a big difference:
- 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.