Overcome Postpartum Wrist Pain with these Simple Tips to Improve Everyday Life

“A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s.”

Princess diana

Wrist pain after pregnancy doesn’t have to become a barrier to enjoying life with your new bundle of joy. While the cause is likely due to the extended time you now spend holding your baby and lugging around that car seat, there are some simple steps you can take to ease the pain and prevent any repetitive stress injury to the wrists.  

Repetitive stress injuries occur when someone repeats the same motion over and over, for example, holding the same position for long periods of time. More information from the Cleveland Clinic here.

The following protective techniques and preventative strategies may support well-being by promoting a reduction in pain.*  

Use larger muscle groups when carrying equipment. This simply means using the largest muscle group(s) to bear weight whenever possible.  For example, carry the car seat with the forearm instead of with the hand (which causes additional stress and possible inflammation of the tendons of the hand/forearm due to gripping something heavy tightly). [picture or physical example of what this looks like will help]

Ergonomics for Mothers and Caregivers. Ergonomics for mothering means completing our “work” as efficiently and safely as possible.  Specifically for addressing wrist pain, be sure to keep the wrists in a neutral position whenever possible (including when typing, driving, and using electronic devices).  When holding your baby, be sure to prop up the arms and baby on a pillow (such as a BoppyⓇ) for nursing and feeding.  Also when feeding a baby, it is important to support your body as well by sitting with the feet and back supported so that the muscles can stay relaxed.

Active range of motion and tendon glides. One of the most important and simple exercises we can do is to move both arms within a full active range of motion, this includes shoulder shrugs, arm circles, and tendon glides for the hand/fingers(see below).  These exercises can prevent tension from developing in the most used muscle groups and decrease the chance of developing tendonitis in the muscles of the forearm. 

A Note about Tendons ~ the movements of the hand are controlled by muscles that originate in the forearm.  The tendons of those muscles are located in the wrist, hand, and fingers/thumb.  Tendon glides help stretch and move the muscles through their full range of motion and can help tendons glide through the carpal tunnel.

Mindfulness. Go about your day completing your  daily activities with intention. Practicing mindfulness simply means to complete daily activities intentionally.  In the instance of postpartum wrist pain, mindfulness can help by reminding us to relax.  For example, throughout the day, be mindful about relaxing the shoulders and relaxing any tension in the body, specifically the tension we hold in the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands due to all of the lifting and carrying.  Keeping the muscles relaxed can assist with easing pain.  

Created by Heidi Carpenter, OTD, OTR/L © September 2020. Embody Occupational Therapy, LLC.

*This article is for educational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.

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