Wrist Exercises For Carpal Tunnel & Tendonitis

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I work part time as a librarian. Before that I, like many of you, had some preconceived notion that librarians had relatively easy jobs. You shelved books, gave people library cards, and wore cardigans like they were going out of style. Well, all of these things are true, but I didn’t realize just how much physical stress was involved in the job.

Now, I’m sure there’s a difference in public libraries and reference libraries. I happen to work in a reference library, so I can’t speak for those public librarians out there, but the physical strain my arms, wrists, and hands go through in a days work is enough to have already caused some serious problems.

Librarians Do A Lot Of Heavy Lifting

What goes on behind the closed doors of a reference library might surprise you. No, there’s no scientific experimentations or yakuza headquarters, but there is a lot of physical work going on. When you request materials, the librarians go in search of your requests in the tombs of the archives. Sometimes this means lifting heavy boxes and books for extended periods of time. Doesn’t sound too bad, though, right?

Except that when you consider the angle one must use to pull a book from the shelves, you end up with your wrist at a very odd angle. An angle that wrists aren’t that accustomed to. Too much of this can lead to carpal tunnel or even tendonitis. Just imagine pulling endless amounts of heavy books off a shelf with little time in between to rest your forarms and wrists. I recently reorganized a few shelves of my library, moving book after book to different shelves, as well as incorporating new books into the collection. The next day, my wrists were killing me. They ached relentlessly, which left me massaging my forearms in hopes the pain would stop. Unfortunately my feeble attempts didn’t do much good. I knew I had to go in search of something better.

What Are Carpal Tunnel And Tendonitis?

According to OrthoInfo,

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm. The condition occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand — the median nerve — is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist.

In most patients, carpal tunnel syndrome gets worse over time, so early diagnosis and treatment are important. Early on, symptoms can often be relieved with simple measures like wearing a wrist splint or avoiding certain activities.

If pressure on the median nerve continues, however, it can lead to nerve damage and worsening symptoms. To prevent permanent damage, surgery to take pressure off the median nerve may be recommended for some patients.

while, according to HSS,

Tendonitis (also known as tendinitis or tenonitis) is a general term used to describe inflammation associated with a tendon. Tendons connect muscles to bone, and inflammation of these rope-like tissues is the most common cause of soft-tissue pain. Tendonitis differs from arthritis, which refers to inflammation of a joint. Common areas for the condition include the shoulder (which involves inflammation at one of the tendons of the rotator cuff), the elbow (tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow), the wrist, the knee (above and below the kneecap), the back of the ankle (Achilles tendonitis) and the foot.

The onset of tendonitis can usually be attributed to overuse of the associated area, but can also occur in areas where calcium deposits have developed.. As we grow older, repetitive motion can injure the tendon where it attaches to the bone, promoting an inflammatory response by the body. This inflammation can cause “pain on motion,” swelling, warmth, tenderness, and redness. This latter symptom is called “erythema” and refers to the dilation of the blood’s capillaries as part of the inflammatory process.

I’m sure there are countless ways in which a wrist could develope carpal tunnel or tendenitis. You can find cases of these wrist pains in secretaries, hairstylists, I.T. workers…the list goes on. And if you, like me, don’t know the proper stretches you can use to alleviate that built up stress, you could find yourself in a lot of pain!

What To Do About It?

First of all, let’s list the obvious ways to alleviate this problem, or at least make it more managable.


You can always try to:

Give it a rest
Wear a splint
Stretch the inflamed area
Avoid repetitive movements
Ask a medical professional


Sometimes these work, but you can’t always avoid repetitive movements if it’s for your job, and wearing a splint can make other tasks uncomfortable. It is always best advised to see a doctor if you are concerned you may be developing carpal tunnel or tendonitis. But I also understand that visits to the doctor can be expensive in this era and young professionals don’t always have the resources available to afford these costs. (Hello, this is why we need universal health care!)

I’d like to share with you some of the exercises I have found that helped ease those wrist pains to become more managable. My particular case of pain started in the lower palm of my hand, where it attaches to the wrist. The pain eventually spread to my thumbpad and the upper side of my wrist, encasing most of my thumb with a steady dull aching. I was having difficulties finding exercises for this particular area. These resources are the ones I have found most helpful.

After trying the very first exercise, I felt immediate relief. I couldn’t believe it! It still hurt, but the pain wasn’t a constant throb like it had been seconds earlier. Instead it only hurt when I moved my hand in a certain position. I continued to do this stretch and I do believe it triggered the exact tendon that was cramped, because the relief continued.

Afterwards, I found this video, and discovered that it stretched parts of my arms that I never really noticed were tight. I don’t know if this specifically helped my aching wrists because I couldn’t feel an immediate relief, but feeling the other muscles stretching in my arms, shoulders, and neck made me realize just how tight I was. I followed his instructions and my arms felt great afterwards. Of course it always feels good to stretch.


If anyone has any other suggestions, I would be so grateful for your input. If you are experiencing wrist pain, I urge you to contact your doctor if possible and practice self care by following some of the suggestions above. If you found this post helpful, please leave a comment, like, share, and subscribe!

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Take care, and don’t forget to take your medications!

Kat

Self Care on a Budget

How To Self Care On A Budget

 

How many of you watch self care videos on YouTube or read blog posts that lay out a routine most of us wish we could indulge in whenever we have a bad day? These self care posts often focus on the products you can buy for the best skin, the best relaxation, and the best detoxes. All of these products are very enticing, but for those who are living life from paycheck to paycheck, it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with all those fancy trends. This can often lead to feelings of inadequacy or negative self talk.

I can’t afford that kind of moisturizer. Who has the extra cash to take a weekend yoga retreat, or Caribbean vacation? There’s no way I can afford a gym membership and also dinner for this week. It costs how much for an organic coconut oil vegan facial scrub? No thanks, I have school loans to pay.

The need to care for yourself and nurture your body and soul shouldn’t be at the expense of sacrificing other everyday needs. Finances aside, I am a huge fan of all the self care videos and blog posts online. They always inspire me and motivate me to live that kind of life, but I do things a little differently, and maybe you do too, or would like to. Through my twenties I have developed a self care routine that works best for me, my budget, and my lifestyle.

The stresses of life can pile up rather easily, so it’s important to set aside time to focus on recharging your energy. Self care doesn’t have to only be about the products you buy. For me, self care is about nourishing my soul, getting back in tune with myself and my spirituality, and coping with the pile of stress that collects like a stack of bills at the back of your mental workstation. And most of these are of little or no cost to yourself; things that you can do no matter what your social standing in life may be.

When I am feeling like I need to focus on myself, I do any number of the following.


Hot Shower

The first thing I do when I need to cleanse my body and soul is to take a nice hot shower. As Sylvia Plath states in The Bell Jar, it’s as if the stresses of the day wash off along with the dirt and oil and go right down the drain. I’ve often felt on the verge of tears, have stepped into the steam and heat of a shower and by the end I am relaxed and calm. After stressful events like job interviews, social gatherings, or dates that didn’t quite go as well as you had hoped, there is nothing better than stripping off all those tight clothes, losing the bra, taking off your makeup, and just being the free little soul that you are. Take the time to look at yourself in the mirror before you get into the shower, and instead of shouting negatives in your mind, be kind to yourself. You are beautiful despite all your wrinkles, stretch marks, and belly rolls.

Yoga/Stretching

Some days my yoga routine is meant to be a workout as well as a stretch–Do ALL the planks, master ALL the pilate’s, get ALL the abs!–but on my self care days, I like to take it easy with the positions I do. It’s all about trusting your body and doing what feels nice. Don’t stress about doing the poses right. This is a time for you to get in tune with your physical body. I mainly focus on small stretches. Starting in a seated position, I stretch one arm up and over my body in a sideways bend, and then the other. I then do some shoulder and head rolls. After that, I stretch out my legs in a forward sitting fold. I find that on self care days I general gravitate towards things low to the floor, so back stretches also help. Laying on my back, I twist one leg over my body while looking over the opposite shoulder, and lastly I finish by hugging my knees to my chest and rolling my lower back along the floor before settling down into corpse pose (which is by far my favorite!).

I really like Yoga With Adriene on Youtube. It always makes my day going through a nice easy session with her. 

Meditation

Yep, back to the ol’ meditation tip. The thoughts that weight heavy on your mind are able to be released when you actively try to clear your mind. I find that listening to meditation music helps get me in a nice comfortable mental zone. One of my favorite things to focus on during meditation is The Box. It’s a cognitive exercise where you take all the negative thoughts about yourself or from your stressful day, picture them as a physical object, and place them inside the box. Once inside, they can’t get out. Then picture placing the box somewhere in your mind and forgetting about it. The nice thing about this is that the box is infinite. You can pour as much negativity inside the box as you wish, just like Pandora’s box!

Another cognitive exercise I like to do while meditating is to picture myself someplace where I feel absolutely stress free and content. Recently, this has been in a small cottage on a prairie along the edge of a forest, where speckled sunlight shines through the trees and creates a golden paradise. In this safe space in my mind, I often try to get in touch with my inner child, which always appears to me as a grey cat. By focusing on the grey cat, I am able to reinforce positivity and ignore the negative thoughts for a while. This also gives me an opportunity to have a conversation with my inner child, or inner self. Check in with yourself. The way we talk to ourselves really makes a difference, so be kind.

Physical Care

I said this was a self care post on a budget, and I meant it. This is usually the point where all those vloggers and bloggers start whipping out their designer hand lotions, hundred dollar facial moisturizers, anti wrinkle cream that would cost my left tit to buy, and a smorgasbord of other odds and ends to get the flawless skin everyone wishes they could have. (Even though, if we’re being totally honest, all they probably did for their videos was apply a heavy layer or two of foundation, which can make anyone look flawless on film).

I’m about to be very real with you right now. My skin care routine consists of this: Since my face is usually nice and clean from the shower, I apply Clinique moisture surge. It’s the most expensive thing I own, so let’s get it out of the way right now. I use Clinique Moisture Surge because I have dry-ass skin that makes me molt like a snek after one of my nice hot showers. This moisturizer is the only one I have found that doesn’t cause me to break out. As soon as I apply it I feel like my face just took a nice healthy drink of water, and it stays moisturized all through the day or night, whenever I apply it. Without it I would look like a clay golem in desperate need of some rain.

Now I’m about to share with you a marvelous secret. After applying my face moisturizer, I moisturize my body. Not with Jergen’s, not with coconut oil, not with some weird concoction of olive oil, bee’s wax, and creme fraiche. You ready for this? I use Johnson’s baby lotion. It works SO much better than any of those super expensive luxury moisturizers, and leaves my skin feeling so smooth and soft afterwards. The other thing I like about it is that it absorbs rather quickly. I hate moisturizing my body and then having to stand there like a starfish waiting for it to all get soaked in as I stand in front of my fan.

That’s it. That’s the end of my physical care. Sometimes I will repaint my nails or exfoliate my gross disgusting hobbit feet, but that’s only if I’m feeling really frisky. (Just kidding, I have adorable little hobbit feet)

Oh, and don’t forget to drink water! It’s an absolutely affordable way to get better skin, better digestion, and better overall health. You’re made up of water. Never forget to hydrate!

Comfort food

When you’re having a bad day, nothing compares when it comes to feeling better than eating some of your favorite foods. Most of my weekdays are spent eating healthy foods and smart choices. I will limit the amount of carbs, cheese, and meats I eat, even though these are my favorites. But on self care days, anything goes. I think most people call these “cheat days”? Where you sit down with a bowl of mac n cheese big enough to feed a family and chicken nuggets, and eat until you are so satisfied that you can’t eat another bite. And who can forget dessert? I always treat myself to a fabulous dessert item on self care days. Sometimes I will even go to the store specifically to buy a fancy little dessert like a parfait, chocolate mousse, or little cupcake from the bakery section.

Journaling

Once my skin is all drank and my mind is all clear and my belly is all full, I take the time to write in my journal. Sometimes I journal on my phone in an app called Day One, and other times I use a physical journal. I like the feeling of writing things down in an actual notebook with a cool cactus or unicorn pen from target (which you can get in the little $1 bin up near the front), but sometimes my mind moves faster than my hand and I end up frustrated, which is like, the opposite of a good thing for self care. So usually I use Day One and get out all the lingering thoughts for my day. I’m one of those super linear people who writes down what they ate and what the weather was like, along with pouring my heart out about social issues or money problems. I’ve been consistently journaling for about a year now, and it’s really interesting to be able to look back on my past entries to see what sort of mindset I was in during which days and which months and which life events. The other cool thing about Day One is that you can add a picture to your journal entries, and depending on where the picture was taken, it will create a map for you that tells you where you were and when. When you click on a map point, it will take you to that journal entry. So Cool!

Writing/Working on a creative project

Different than journaling, which is often personal and cathartic, I like to follow that up by working on a creative project such as blogging or creative writing, or even drawing. I have real issues with self-loathing when it comes to productivity. I feel that if I’m not creating something at all times, I’m a loser. That’s something I really need to work on. But I still like being productive when I can. At the end of the night is my favorite time to write because it gives me motivation to incorporate the happenings of the day into my work. I will also use this creative time to brainstorm blog post ideas or work on my websites/social media presence.

Friendship appreciation

I often also incorporate a section of time where I can be social. I will send my friends “hello, how are you?” texts just to check in and make sure they’re doing ok. Sometimes they need some time to vent too, and having a friend to listen to you sometimes means the world to someone. It also helps to feel more connected when you actively reach out to your loved ones. When was the last time you called your mom? When did you text your sister? Even small gestures are sometimes enough to make huge differences in someone’s life.

Selfies

Yep, I’m one of those girls. But taking selfies just reaffirms to myself that I’m a cutie and worthy of love and acceptance too. It’s a great feeling to appreciate yourself. Of course I will snapchat it up until my phone dies, but sometimes I just like appreciating the natural beauty that is me. With my blemished skin and blue veins and short eyelashes and all my double chins. Yeah, baby. It’s also really fun to dress up as glamorous as you want and take selfies that way. There’s nothing more satisfying than slipping into your favorite dress or pair of shoes for some personal selfie shots! And hey, appreciate that little booty of yours. Just because it isn’t a bubble butt doesn’t mean it’s not cute.


And there you have it. These are some of my favorite things to do on a self care day. As you can see, a lot of these cost little to no money at all to do. Not everything has to be about what you own or what products you use. Some of my favorite self care techniques are more about nurturing my internal spirit and finding peace within myself.


 

Do you have any specific things you always love to do on self care days? I’d love to hear from you!

Take care!

 

The Benefits of Daily Meditation

At the beginning of 2018, I created a daily habits tracker in my bullet journal. In this daily habits tracker I included things I wanted to accomplish, like writing every day and making my bed every morning, but I also chose to include meditation. I always heard the benefits of meditation, but had never taken the time out of my day to make it a routine, a ritual, until this year.

And I’m glad I did.

Benefits of daily meditation

As soon as I began a regular practice of meditation, I began to notice certain things changing in my life

  1. Breathing
    • One of my favorite aspects of meditation is controlling my breathing. The practice that I am following encourages you to deepen your inhales and lengthen your exhales, which strengthens your connection to your breath. How often do we take such a simple thing for granted? You breath constantly to survive. By becoming aware of this, you become aware of yourself, your spirit, your soul, and your presence here on this earth.
  2. Focus
    • An effect of daily meditation that I have found to be quite productive is my ability to focus on other daily tasks with more awareness, more presence, and more attention. Daily meditation encourages you to live in the moment. If you can quiet your mind for a ten minute meditation session, it’s easier to justify other tasks that you might have viewed as time consuming or tedious. You can fold a load of laundry in the same amount of time as a meditation session. Suddenly that doesn’t seem like such an impossible task.
  3. Calm
    • The effects of slowing and controlling your breathing does more than just increase your self awareness. It also has a calming effect. If I am feeling anxious about a certain area of my life, by the time I am finished meditating, the problem no longer causes me physical discomfort like a tight chest, tense muscles, or headaches. By engaging in deep breathing and physical relaxation, you subconsciously release anxiety and reach a pleasant calmness.
  4. Mental Clarity
    • One of the main reasons I decided to begin daily meditation was because my mind was constantly running full speed, and the thoughts were often very negative. It’s difficult to deal with life when your mind is constantly being flooded by negativity, stress, and worry. Daily meditation helps to declutter your mental state. Headspace, a meditation app for your phone, described it as traffic. Your thoughts are traffic. If you try to stop those thoughts, you stress yourself out more. But if you passively sit on the side and allow thoughts to come and go as they please, to pass by without reaction, then your mind does not cling to negativity, and instead simply observes the thoughts.
  5. Raises Spiritual Connection
    • This is another one of my favorite parts of meditation. Do you ever feel disconnected from the world, the people around you, and the universal energy? I’ve been there. It’s a very lonely feeling. But after incorporating daily meditation into my life, I felt an increase in my vibrations. This is partially due to visualization. I like to picture my energy spreading out like ink in water to touch all the other energies of the world, and in turn, the other energies flowing through me as well. This visualization helps create a feeling of contentment and spiritual connectedness.
  6. Internal Dialogue
    • Sitting down every day for a calming ten or fifteen minutes (or longer if you feel the desire) gives you a wonderful opportunity to have a conversation…with yourself. I know it sounds weird, but when was the last time you checked in with yourself? Like having a conversation with a friend, say hi, ask what’s up, ask yourself if everything is ok. And listen to how you answer those questions. Daily meditation provides you with a chance to connect with yourself and your own thoughts in a quiet and safe environment, devoid of self-abuse. What things aren’t you dealing with? What do you need to face? Are you comfortable being alone with your own thoughts? Nothing provides a better mirror into your soul than a little internal dialogue with your own mind.
  7. Grounding
    • Are you someone who has a difficult time living in reality? Are you prone to daydreaming or dissociation? Practicing daily meditation helps to ground me when I feel like I’m mentally floating away from reality. Again, this point is about visualization. My therapist taught me a helpful meditation for when I’m feeling dissociative. Wherever you choose to meditation, picture yourself in a calm space. When you feel relaxed, visualize energy coming from the core of the earth and spreading from the base of your body all the way to the tips of your fingers and the top of your head. At the same time, visualize energy coming from the sun down through the top of your head and allow it to fill your body and pass down through you into the core of the earth. This visualization will help you feel more grounded and present on this earth.
  8. Emotional Healing
    • Going along with the internal monologue point, emotional healing is another benefit of daily meditation. When you have that conversation with yourself and face truths about yourself, you allow yourself to grow as a person and heal the things that might be long buried within your mind. When those wounds are judged appropriately and mended, you can begin to heal emotionally. And when you have healed, (which is a process that never really ends, I think), you will be happier for it.
  9. Patience
    • In a world that is constantly moving so quickly, it can be easy to want to rush through things. We are always looking for a shortcut. Our attention spans are shrinking day by day as well as with the birth of new and faster technology. But self love is something that should never be rushed. By meditating daily, you build patience within yourself in order to relax into the moment and slow your mind and breath. You might find that this patience carries over into other aspects of your life.
  10. Commitment
    • Patience isn’t the only thing you build by practicing daily meditation. You also build commitment and structure by scheduling time for meditation. This helps train your mind to build new routines and stick to them. How many of you start projects but have difficulties completing them? By creating a lifestyle of commitment, you encourage yourself to be more consistent as well. I’m not saying change is bad, but being able to commit to something that has so many benefits can lead to nothing but positivity.

If you’ve never practiced meditation but are interested in trying, I suggest you download Headspace. It’s a great introduction and offers beneficial insights into the practice. It’s never too late to start a positive routine. You can meditate at any time and anywhere you would like. If you are new to the practice or have been meditating for a while, what are some benefits you feel you gain from practicing daily meditation? I would love to hear from you!

Have a wonderful day!