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In the industrial athletic training setting, one of the more common injuries or conditions that I come across is carpal tunnel syndrome. This can certainly be a challenge to treat. One stretch that can be added to your arsenal in treating this, and other upper extremity injuries for that matter, is a stretch of the brachial plexus. Brachial Plexus Stretch

One little success story to share with you (results not guaranteed) involved a woman with chronic CTS. Her symptoms had been at a relatively dull roar for a while until she started experiencing increased numbness and tingling that were not going away. The symptoms were probably present for a couple of weeks and when I finally showed her this stretch. Her symptoms were gone within a day and she continues to implement this stretch in her normal stretching routine.

Again – taking in the total context – this may be a stretch that you can implement as part of your treatment regime. This stretch is also certainly not just limited to CTS sufferers. This can be used with general upper extremity tightness and more. As always, exercise care when instructing your patients of this stretch and be mindful of any situations that may cause this stretch to be not used in the first place or discontinued.

A couple final thoughts. As you can see from the picture, a small swiss ball was used. I like using the ball because it gives the patient a little flexibility in how they position the hand in order to get the best stretch. The ball provides a little more alterationability (if that’s a word) than using the wall as an anchor. A patient can simply use a ball from around the house to replicate this stretch at home. If they don’t have a ball, try a plastic mixing bowl and placing this against the wall. This will give a similar effect.

Make sure to keep the shoulder at “shoulder level” or lower so as not to aggravate the shoulder or any additional conditions.

Finally, you’ll notice in the picture that I am turing away from the wall. This again is a tweak to the stretch that will allow you to feel this stretch a little bit more. Turn away as much or as little as you wish in order to customize this stretch to personal preference.

Quite honestly this was not a “standard stretch” that I always gave to CTS patients (although one may argue it should have been). The point is – I tried this out one day thinking that it may benefit the patient and sure enough it did. This stretch and others for that matter won’t benefit you gathering dust in the bottom of your “toolbox”. Give it a try – you might be pleased with the results.

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