Can any type of strength training or weight workout actually improve the structures within the wrist and help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?

In carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve at the wrist is subjected to compression.

This causes pain that can occur in the forearm and wrist.

It can also cause tingling and numbness in the thumb, index finger, middle finger and part of the fourth finger.

Treatment is usually conservative, typically with a wrist brace.

Repetitive motions of the hand is a leading cause, such as with keyboard use.

When one has carpal tunnel syndrome, this can interfere with lifting weights.

However, you might be thinking in terms of preventing this condition if you’ve never had it.

Since strength training produces so many great benefits to the body, it’s logical to wonder if there’s any exercise that can actually help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

“No, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that lifting weights can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome,” says Christopher R. Sforzo, MD, head surgeon and founder, Sforzo Dillingham Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine.

That’s crummy news. You go into a gym and hit the weights hard, becoming strong all over – yet there’s nothing with a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell or cable handle that you can do to lower the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Dr. Sforzo continues, “However, certain exercises, such as those that require gripping or bending the wrist, can put additional pressure on the median nerve and worsen symptoms in individuals who already have the condition.”


Prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If you engage in any kind of repetitive wrist and hand motions, be sure to take frequent breaks.

If taking breaks during the activity is difficult, then perform the activity in smaller chunks of time, alternating with other activity.

Try to keep your wrists straight or neutral during the activity.

Consider a trackball computer mouse instead of the more common type of mouse.

Below is what a trackball mouse looks like. They cost more than a conventional mouse, but they are well worth it.

Trackball mouse

The trackball allows your hand to stay still, with only the thumb moving. This takes pressure off the wrist.

Finally, see if you can type with your keyboard on your lap. I’ve been doing this for many years, and I’ve never had any problems whatsoever with my wrists.

But if a keyboard is higher up, this can put strain on the wrists, upping your risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

In the meantime, keep on doing your strength training – as its many health and fitness benefits are well-documented.

Christopher R. Sforzo, MD, is a board certified orthopedic surgeon, providing treatment of problems involving the shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. He performs many procedures using minimally invasive techniques including endoscopic carpal tunnel release, arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, and arthroscopic wrist and elbow procedures.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 


Top image:, teksomolika