“The pain of discipline is nothing like the pain of disappointment.” – Justin Langer
Anyone who has pursued a goal of some kind, especially one that involves physical exertion, can readily identify with the idea behind that quote. “The pain of discipline” can almost be a physical distress or discomfort for many of us.
In fact, something as seemingly simple as getting up an hour earlier every day in order to have time for a new pursuit can feel tortuous for many people!
However, the pain of discipline, especially the discipline required for exercising, working out, or weight training, should not be literal and physical. The old saw about “No pain, no gain” can too easily be construed as meaning that if it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing enough.
And that is a fast path to injury and even chronic pain.
But another common misconception is that certain exercise or workout disciplines can cause specific types of pain or injuries. One that has often made the rounds among fitness folks is that some weightlifting exercises can often lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Weightlifting: Not a Cause, But Possibly a Factor
There are still articles and suspect websites that continue to promote the unproven connection between weightlifting movements and the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS. However, the vast majority of studies and the overwhelming weight of evidence points to the seeming fact that the once does not cause the other.
As we have pointed out in a previous article,
“According to research, your workouts are very unlikely to cause carpal tunnel syndrome. However, if you already suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, or are predisposed to it, the action of consistently bending or flexing your wrist while you work out can irritate the median nerve and worsen the symptoms.”
This is not to say that the possibility of certain weightlifting motions could never trigger CTS. However, while this has not been undeniably ruled out, there is little clinical evidence to support the claim.
But there is plenty of anecdotal and clinical evidence to suggest that almost any type of repetitive hand or wrist motions can exacerbate or aggravate an already existing condition.
That being so, what is an avid weight training participant to do if they have or are prone to CTS?
Weightlifting with Carpal Tunnel: Proceed with Caution
Most fitness experts and professionals agree that, with proper preparation, awareness, and parameters, people with carpal tunnel syndrome can continue to engage in weight lifting and weight training regimens.
For example, here are steps to follow that are taken from an article at LIVESTRONG.com,
- Wear proper supportive devices to prevent wrist flexion. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, failing to maintain wrist rigidity during weight lifting can lead to an increase in pressure on the median nerve — which, in turn, can exacerbate carpal tunnel symptoms.
- Practice moderation during exercise. In most cases, the more difficult the resistance training exercise, the more pressure placed on the median nerve — not only because of the excess weight, but also due to increases in blood flow that occur during resistance training.
- Ice your wrists after resistance training workouts. According to ACSM, icing your wrists after weight training will reduce the inflammation that can occur as a result of the activity — and can decrease pressure on the median nerve.
Another article notes that,
“A great way to reduce that post-workout pain is to stretch both wrists and all fingers before and after lifting weights. Proper technique is also critical in preventing excessive pressure placed upon the median nerve, which can make your CTS symptoms much worse.”
An alternative to traditional weight lifting, at least until CTS symptoms subside or diminish, is to use bands.
The American Society for Surgery of the Hand suggests that a good way to help prevent wrist injuries and wrist pain is to strengthen the muscles in your forearms by using light resistance bands or small weights to resist wrist motions.
It is important to hold your wrists in the most stable position and to keep your hand and forearm in a straight alignment while using the bands during exercises.
However, treating your carpal tunnel syndrome effectively is the best strategy for “pain-free” exercise and weight lifting.
Finding Relief for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at Pain and Performance Solutions
We often make use of Active Release Technique®, or ART® therapy, to treat CTS pain and other symptoms caused by injury or nerve damage.
ART® can be applied to treat the fascia, for example, fibrous connective tissue that protects and supports muscles and organs, which can experience inflammation that causes extreme pain and stiffness. In addition, various tendons connect muscles to bone, and ligaments connect bone to bone. Injuries to these tissues can result in pain and a decreased range of motion.
Our first step is to learn everything we can about your current pain along with any history of discomfort. Once we understand where and how your pain started, we can begin treating and relieving your carpal tunnel pain
However, your trust in us and your honesty are keys to your successful recovery. And the only way to achieve total recovery is by getting your body healthy and working properly.
At Pain and Performance Solutions, we do this by first conducting a full examination to help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to put you on your road to recovery. Pain in your body can originate from different places or for seemingly unrelated movements or actions.
For example, because your body can compensate for pain in order to allow you to function during your day, that pain can either move or lead to other types of pain.
So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.