Fingers and Wrists
Fingers provide strength for clasping and using tools. Repetitive movements such as typing or using garden tools can lead to repetitive strains and/or chronic tension that may cause “trigger finger” which appears as a constant claw. Maintaining finger strength is important as we often see a loss of function in every day chores in the elderly due to loss of hand strength and function.
1. extend arm out in front of you and clench your fist, pull wrist down with moderate force (NB. moderate only), hold 10 seconds (or five breaths) – next – extend fingers out and extend the wrist by pushing back on the fingers (again use moderate force), hold 10 seconds.
2. push hands together with elbows horizontal, transition to pushing forearms together – hold both for 5 seconds.
3. clasp fingers together at shoulder height, pull apart but maintain clasp.
NB. if you spend more time in the garden and are using tools (eg. spade, secateur) you are likely to be using your wrists more intensively. Make sure you do these exercises after your efforts to ensure good recovery.
Most wrist injuries occur due to repetitive strains however most fractures occur due to a traumatic injury where the person falls and puts their hands out to lessen the impact onto the ground. These may cause wrist sprains or wrist breakages both of which should be assessed and managed by a health professional.
1. with hands clasped at shoulder height swim forward making large circles with your elbows (maintain the “pull apart” feeling of the hands/wrist), then swim backwards making large elbow circles – 5 circles each way.
2. place elbows at 90° with hands apart, move hands in large circles forward then backwards – 5 – 10 circles (should feel shoulder blades move and possibly feel lots of “clicking” if not pain that’s OK). Imagine your hands are mimicking train wheels.
3. place arms out sideways at shoulder height, with palms facing the ground perform 5 small circles forward, 5 medium circles forward, 5 large circles forward, then 5 large circles backwards, 5 medium circles backwards, 5 small circles backwards – keep arms up and turn palms facing forward, important component is to then squeeze the shoulder blades together and hold them there whilst you repeat the above sequence – finally, keep arms up and turn palms upwards, keep the shoulder blade squeeze on and repeat sequence (this fantastic exercise will add tremendous stability to your shoulders and neck – it is a stability exercise so requires some effort).
In most cases the area of pain is located at the front of the shoulder and involves an imbalance of the muscles of the rotator cuff. structures of the rotator cuff. in the rotator cuff (front of shoulder) however the cause of the pain is likely to be an imbalance in the muscle groups around the shoulder. Frequently the imbalance is a shoulder that is too tight in the front and too loose in the back which you often see as poor posture or a slump forward. Due to the complexity of the shoulder I again suggest you seek professional help as many cases require to gain mobility before exercises to improve strength.
Stand in upright posture, turn (rotate) the neck left and right 3-5 times, then stop in end range of turn and tuck chin down towards the collar bone following the line of the nose and chin – hold 5 seconds. Repeat on other side.
You may have noticed the neck muscles working hard as you completed the shoulder exercises. This is normal and is due to the close anatomical relationship of the muscles that control the neck also provide shoulder movements (and vice-versa). To avoid any neck reaction from shoulder exercises always complete the above neck exercises after shoulder exercises.