It’s relatively common to experience some wrist pain or forearm pain from time-to-time, usually caused by a repetitive movement pattern. Examples might include playing racquet sports, gardening, using a mouse/keyboard, or my particular favourite, DIY!
As with anything in the body (& actually life in general!!) when the aggravating activity is short-term or less prolonged (eg. one game of tennis or a weekend of gardening) the pain issues will often be short-term too, and will go away of their own accord, with rest once the activity has stopped. The issues might flare up again but will not normally become a chronic issue unless the activity continues.
When the aggravating activity is more of a regular occurrence or more prolonged (eg. playing tennis three times a week or gardening several days a week) the pain issues can become more embedded and be more challenging to resolve.
Sometimes it is not going to be possible to stop doing the things which are causing us pain, but we can try to stay ahead of the curve with a combination of the following:
- Become aware of your posture whenever can, so that you can regularly remind yourself to make small adjustments if needed –
- notice any imbalance between left and right (eg. head tilted to one side or one shoulder sitting higher than the other)
- notice if there is any any ‘holding’ or ‘gripping’ in one area of the body (eg. tension in the low back)
- notice how your body feels – ideally you will feel grounded (through your feet if you’re standing and through your hips if you’re seated) and able to move without losing that sense of being earthed
- notice your breathing and how your body moves as you breathe (ie. do the ribs move up and down or do they open wide as you inhale?)
2. Vary your movement patterns where possible to reduce the impact of the aggravating activity –
- change your desk set up if you suspect that the issue is keyboard or mouse related (try a wrist rest, consider a different keyboard or mouse, vary your desk layout, review your seating options, be aware of your posture)
- review your movement patterns if you think the issues are sports-related (get some professional help if necessary)
- takes breaks if you’re doing a longer task (chop & change between activities to break up the movements patterns, pause to stretch out your fingers/wrists/forearms from time-to-time or have regular tea-breaks)
- make use of labour-saving equipment if you are doing a prolonged task (eg. an electric screwdriver will massively reduce the amount of forearm rotation, not worth it for a quick job perhaps but definitely worth it for a larger project)
- change between your right and left hand where you can to reduce the impact of single-sided movements
3. Resolve any soft tissue tension/pain before it becomes a chronic pain issue –
- stretching & self-massage are both easy (& free) ways to keep things moving – see below for some ideas to try
- use of heat or cold may help to reduce any inflammation
- sports massage can get right to the root of the problem by working on and around the affected areas (which may or may not be where you are feeling the pain!)
Don’t forget that pain in one place can often come from a related area of the body!
Wrist, hand and forearm pain are very often associated with neck, chest or shoulder issues, in which case treating the point of pain without resolving the contributing factors will only give short-term pain relief.
With that in mind, here are some of my favourite stretching ideas that you might find helpful. I’ve included some for the wrist and forearms specifically, but also some for the neck & shoulders because you probably need those too!
- wrist pain releases by Dr Jo
- fix wrist pain with decompression & 3 stretches by Bob & Brad
- wrist and hand stretches from healthline.com
- two ways to release sternocleidomastoid by me
- trigger point releases for neck & upper back also by me!
How can sports massage help?
Sports massage therapy can be a great way to resolve wrist and forearm pain and teach you how to manage the issue yourself. And the sooner you address the problem, the sooner it can be resolved AND the less likely it is to develop into a more chronic pain issue.
When you come for your first appointment, I’ll ask you about likely triggers for the pain you’re experiencing, ask you which movements help/don’t help, find out what you’ve been doing so far to try to resolve the issues and make a few postural observations. All of these things will guide my approach and then I will systematically work around the associated areas, as well as treating directly on the area that feels problematic, working within your comfort levels.
After your massage I will offer suggested homework that you can do to help yourself between treatments.
You will usually notice some improvement from just one treatment but in the case of chronic pain you will likely need several follow-up sessions to resolve the issues to the point where you can manage them yourself.
Please let me know if you would like to discuss a sports massage appointment with me before booking, or click here to visit my booking page.