We’ve already explored how Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) trigger points ‘refer’ pain to points elsewhere on the body, the importance of deactivating them and of having a healthy workstation.
Now we’ll look in more detail at some specific exercises you can do at home to alleviate the pain and discomfort of RSI, starting with the flexor group of muscles…
These are five muscles in the inner forearm responsible for flexion of the wrist and hand — that is bending the hand inward at the wrist, cupping the hand and curling the fingers and thumb in towards the palm. You can be confident they will be involved with any pain experienced on the inner forearm and with golfer’s elbow.
When you start deactivating the trigger points, it’s useful to look at your forearm as comprising two or three strips (depending on the size of your arm) and following each strip down, starting from the elbow and ending at the wrist.
All the flexors respond well when you use a supported thumb for trigger point release, massaging all the muscles involved. You can also try using your knuckles or a tennis ball, and one approach that delivers great results is place your arm behind your back and then lean onto a wall with a tennis ball on the area near your elbow. Doing this gets deep into these thick muscles. For maximum impact, start the ball 7-8 cms below the elbow and then roll it along your forearm down to the wrist.
Once you’ve deactivated the flexors in general, you can be more specific and target individual muscles with a tailored self-treatment. You’ll find detailed information in our guide — 3 Steps to Healthier Computing — on the key flexor muscles, Flexor carpi radialis, Flexor carpi ulnaris, Palamaris longus, and Flexor Digitorum profundis and superficialis.
The Triceps muscle, located on the back of your upper arm, is another source of RSI issues. It is solely responsible for the important role of straightening the elbow, and there are a great many trigger points within this muscle, as you can see from the diagram. You can massage this muscle with your knuckles, using a tennis ball to help support your hand (see diagram). This works best on a desk or table top, or even a filing cabinet! Move your arm up and down over the knuckles.
Another muscle group to be aware of is the Pronators, responsible for turning the hand into a palm-down position in a movement called ‘pronation’. Associated trigger points send pain to a large area on the thumb side of the wrist, sometimes extending into the base of the thumb and up into the inner forearm. Locate Pronator teres by placing your fingers just down from the inner elbow and feeling the muscle bulge when you turn your hand over hard, palm down, as far as it will go. For Pronator quadratus do the same, but place your fingers on your wrist where you take your pulse. A supported thumb works for massaging both muscles, and Pronator teres can also be massaged with a ball against the wall with your arm behind you.
In our next post, we’ll look at the extensors, a set of muscles that work in conjunction with the flexors and are associated with tennis elbow and other pain in the outer part of the forearm, but if you’d like to find out more right away about trigger point exercises and stretches, why not download our guide, 3 Steps to Healthier Computing or contact us at The Wells Clinic?