Failure in the Forearms

By Ross Ashcraft

Carpal Tunnel, aching wrists, numb fingers, or sore arms.  Do any of these apply to you?  Many of us suffer from the overuse of our wrist and forearms.  In the modern society many working adults are required to use their fingers and wrists to type or hold things all day.  Maybe you’re a massage therapist, typist, administrator, waiter, truck driver, secretary, or any profession that requires sustained use of the wrist, forearm, and fingers.

The Problem:

1.  When we hold our arms and hands in specific ways all day long the body “learns” to hold that grip even when we sleep.

2.  When we never fully use our wrists or put them through what is called their full range of motion our muscles develop in improper ways.  As a consequence they don’t acquire the flexibility that is necessary for good joint health.

The Solution:

Our bodies “fix” themselves while we sleep.  So if we deliberately relax/stretch our muscles before you go to sleep then they are equipped to repair themselves while you rest.


1.  Place one arm palm up, down on a table in front of you.  Place your second forearm on top the first forearm and right below the elbow.

2.  Press your second arm deeply into the original forearm and glide toward your wrist.  Do this 3X.

3.  Turn your forearm over and repeat the gliding motion along the other side.  Do this 3X.

4.  Grab your original forearm with your second hand, right below the elbow, with firm pressure.

5.  While grasping, flex and extend the wrist on your original arm.  Move second hand down (or distal) away from the elbow.  Repeat the flexion and extension until you have worked all the way to the wrist.

6.  Stretch the wrist for 20 seconds in both main directions.

7.  Repeat the whole treatment along the second arm.

8.  After treatment on both arms has been completed do some wrist circles (R.O.M.)

This treatment is designed to slowly repair the wrist and forearm.  Use caution when beginning this treatment.  If you feel you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, do not put a lot of pressure or dig into the forearm at the beginning.  Try the treatment and then gradually increase your pressure over time.  If you feel an increase in pain or develop weakness after the treatments, consult a doctor.

If this treatment does not change your wrist pain consult our installments on Whip Lash and anterior neck treatments.

168 thoughts on “Failure in the Forearms”

  1. I have been doing massages now for 2 years. I am up to doing 36 massages a week. . Ross was one of my teachers and this was something we had been taught before I had even started the program. I have done it every day before and after work and really feel that is why my pain is very small. It really does work and it is a great thing to share with your clients. They love to have something to take with them.

  2. I remember that one… you showed everyone that during CLD class. I do my best to remember to do it before I go to bed. Doesn’t always happen, but when I do it works great, thanks.

  3. Thanks for posting this. These excersizea have relieved most of my wrist pain since Laurie showed me. But, I know others can benefit from this as well. Plus, it helps to have it written down! At least until I get into a good solid routine! 😀

  4. I have been a File Maintnance Clerk for the past 2 years and my thumbs and wrists were so sore from tearing tags all week and working with shelf holders. I have been using this technique ever since you showed us in CLD class and it has really improved my overall strength in my hands since. Everyone that I know that has been in that position has had to have corrective surgery. Thank you for the wonderful technique.

  5. Both of my housemates are dog groomers and carpel tunnel is a definite problem area. I’ve showed them how to do this as well, and it has been helpful already. Thanks for the tip!

  6. I have Carpal Tunnel so bad that this little exercise is what changed my mind from being a fitness trainer to doing massage therapy! It works!!! If only for a couple of days or so but after that I do the exercise all over again. It beats paying thousands for surgery and the many side effects from having surgery too.

  7. I knew about this stretch for the arm and have told it to many people I know that have finger and rest problems and after doing it a while they have told me that their fingers arent as stiff.

  8. It’s sad that we don’t know about these exercises/stretches when we suffer from carpal tunnel. This is something that needs to be taught to others so that they can maintain this portion of the body before it causes further problems.

  9. I do a lot of work on my computer after class, and I find myself doing these exercises almost daily, since Ross showed these to us in CLD. Thanks for these great tips Ross! They really do make a difference.

  10. I have always had weak wrists and ankles, so this treatment will be very useful to me. Thank you. I also have a husband that has been diagnosed with Carpel Tunnel. He works on a computer all day. This will be helpful for him too. I was wondering though if this treatment will help with finger numbness if that numbness is caused by nerve damage?

  11. This is a great technique, you showed us this when we were in CLD and I have not been doing it as much, but pain in my wrist as decreased more since than!!! Thanks for the information!!!

  12. I dont suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (knock on wood) but my bofriend does, and ive tried this technique on him a few times and he said he could tell a difference. Its hard getting him to do it every night but he has the tools now to make the pain lessen.

    -Brittany Raines

  13. Going into this profession, I knew that injury to or general pain in this area would be something I would have to either endure or defeat. Ross showed this technique to my CLD class, and I began to use it. Not every day, admittedly, as I still need to work on routine, but on the days I do think to do it, I can tell that I’m not as achy as other days when I do not. A wonderful thing to know. Thanks Ross 🙂

  14. I too remember this from CLD class and passed it on to one of my family friends who was looking at carpal tunnel surgery, along with some other yummies that was shared with me in class and now she doesn’t have to have surgery!! Thanks Ross and Sharon!

  15. if I massage my husbands arms before bed, he sleeps all night. If I miss ONE night, he wakes up with numb fingers and painful arms. That tells me something!

  16. This is most certaintly a good technique. For me between working on computers, martial arts, milking goats, and now giving massages my forearms are typically sore. This is always helpful. I will start recomending it to other people. Thanks.

  17. It’s taking longer and longer to get ready for bed these days! Have been doing this since CLD – what an impression you made on us Ross! My friend is an occupational therapist and warned me that she sees loads of MT’s – gives us 5-10 yrs max if we’re not doing this,other stretching and keeping fit too -so be warned!

  18. I remember this from CLD, it is a very good technique. I use this on me and I have also passed this technique on to my family. This is very easy to do and doesn’t take much time to do at all.

  19. This is like bringing back memories! A very effective treatment, and should be a part of everyone’s daily routine, severe pain or not. I’ve had the opportunity to help a lot of people so far with this particular method. A very nice gem to have!

  20. I absolutely love this one. Being a waitress i have alot of wrist issues and this technique made my arms and wrist feel like jello. Thank you very very much

  21. I have fibromyalsia and even this little step of massaging my forearm and wrist really imporoved how my pain was today. thanks for the tip and website.

  22. I remember this from CLD too. I suggest this to everyone who says their hands are cold or achy (with caution of course), after they try it they say they can feel the difference right away. I don’t use this every night before bed like I should, but I try to do this at least once a week and it helps a lot. Thank You, Ross!

  23. Wow!!! I really needed this. After wrapping present for hours tonight my left wrist had a rotten cramp in it. I just did these stretches and my wrists feel better immediately. I was honking I needed I take ibuprofen but I think I don’t have to now. Thank you!

  24. With all the computer work I have to do daily, this is great. I have tried it for two nights now and feel some much needed improvement. Thank you.

  25. I have actually been doing this since you showed us in CLD. I make my husband do it with me when he gets off work every night as well. He has seen as improvement as well as myself! Thanks!

  26. Reading some of the testimonies from doing this exercise has definitely motivated me to make it a habit. The past 2 months I have been experienced a lot of pain and numbness of the wrists and fingers during the night and sometimes day, from practicing massage. I’m looking forward to some relief. Thank you.

  27. I remember this technique in CLD class when you came to talk to us about your class. This technique helped get my blood flowing as well as helped my arm to feel “awake”. I can see how this would be a very effective treatment for client suffering from pain in their wrist and forearm.

  28. Even though I don’t have problems with my wrists I figured i will start doing these exercises now to reduce the tendency of getting problems in the future.

  29. this exercise is on of my favorites, its easy to remember and is very helpful, I us my arms constantly, massage obviously, but while doing this exercise i realize as a hairdresser and nail tech too how much i am overworking my arms and wrists and how easily i neglect them. my goal this week is to do these exercises at least 3x this week.

  30. I remember this from when you came in CLD class…I have been doing every since..I love all the little tips and techniques shown to us, they really do work!!!

  31. I really like this =) I dont really have any aches in my forearms or wrists. No carpal tunnel here but I hope that by making this a part of my regular routine I will prevent any future pain.

  32. I know a lot of people that have problems with capral tunnel so I am going to let them know about this technique so that they can try to see if this works so that maybe they can avoid surgery.

  33. This will hopefully help me out because I have problems with my wrists. I will try to do this before i go to bed tonight since I have to work and I use my wrist a lot, not only from doing massages.

  34. I really liked this technique and remember it from CLD too. I try to do this at least once a week. It’s definitely something worth remembering for your clients as homework.

  35. I love this technique Ross when you show us in class. I will have to keep this for my clients that have problems with their wrists, arms, or fingers. This is a great technique even if you use it it yourself. 🙂

  36. I feel like it is very important for people to realize that if we don’t put our muscles through full range of motion they don’t develop properly. With just adding stretching to your life your body is closer to living to its fullest.

  37. My mother has a lot of pain in her hands, a lot of it is because of arthritis. I showed her how to stretch her arms this way at night and in the mornings and she said it helped quite a bit. I gave a friend a shoulder massage and did this before and after the massage and I noticed I wasn’t sore like I am sometimes after massaging someone

  38. I think that these techniques are very helpful for massage therapist!! I can’t wait to try them out once I get further in my course.

  39. I remember this from CLD also. It would definately be a great self help especially for massage therapist that works alot. or anyone with soreness in arms or hands.

  40. Ross thank you for sharing. Since the first time we were shown this routine, I have shared this info with friends and family. Just today a lady I work with thanked me.

  41. The first time I was introduced to this technique I was in awe. I have been off and on trying to remember to do this before bed and to keep my attention on these issues because I myself have had problems due to Cosmetology and now Massage therapy working on the carpals through my line of work. I do appreciate the time you guys took to put this together because if I do forget it always here for me to find and remember to do.

  42. I really enjoy doing this one. It really does help, especially before bed! It helps just when I have an ache too. I pass this along to clients because I can testify to the benefits of it. Thanks, it has made a huge difference for me!

  43. I really enjoyed this. After doing it for a few nights then not doing it I could tell it really works.

  44. I really enjoy this technique and it really does help. It especially helps a lot after long days when your muscles are aching.

  45. After actually knowing how to do this technique it really makes a difference in the elbows and wrists. I like this one because you can really do it anywhere. I always find myself stretching and palpating in my free time.

  46. I don’t have carpal tunnel YET! I hopefully will never have it but reality is that I will be using my wrists and hands to make a living. This does feel really good after shooting a ton of baskets though. I did it one evening after shooting with Liam for an hour or two and it really helped loosen it up.

  47. I will be passing this on to my mother because she has bad arthritis. I feel this could help her out alot! I will also begin doing this before and after i give a massage.

  48. I personally do not know anyone with carpal tunnel syndrome. However as a massage therapist I am sure I will run into this problem eventually. It will be good to know there is something that can prevent me from causing any more severe problems.

  49. I work on or around my carpals, but not the forearm technique, maybe if I work on forearm my wrists would adjust in flexibility and extension. I tried the technique in class and it felt great! Just wish someone would massage my arms for me.

  50. i don’t know anyone with carpal tunnel Syndrome, not have i ever suffered from it, but i can imagine at some point in my massage career my hands will be paying the price. ill be glad to have this technique when the time comes. thanks for looking out Ross.

  51. I have had carpel tunnel and all they gave me was a brace. I know I do not hold my wrist properly while typing, I have used a thing (don’t know what it is called ) to hold my wrist up to type. But have had no trouble since.

  52. I have done this every other night for a few months now and it has been a great improvement to the issues I have from working with a computer almost everyday. My hand still feels the need to stay in a “mouse holding” position sometimes but it is much easier to get those muscles to relax back to normal now.

  53. I’ve never experienced problems with my wrists, but im sure i will find lots of this in my practice. good information to have handy.

  54. I will definitively try to remember those exercises before going to bed. I really work my wrists and I am in pain at the end of the day. Those exercises are easy to do and I hope it will help. As a matter of fact, I know they will help. Thanks

  55. This is a good technique and I have found it to be very helpful and I have already printed this blog and gave it to my mom so she can use this since she types all day long.

  56. I do sometimes have pain in my wrist. I find that stretching them does help after a long day at work. I have also tried this technique before going to bed and find that when I wake the pain is less.

  57. Honestly since the first time Ross taught this technique to us in a lab demo I have been using this not before bed though but through out the day it feels really good and I have noticed it does help.

  58. Mhmmm somewhat confusing but I believe I got it down. Feels like giving yourself a professional massage. But I guess that’s what most self stretches are. Felt some releases from tensions, but i really don’t have pains in my wrist or whatever. But good stretches nonetheless to practice as preventive medicine. that make you feel good prior to sleeping.

  59. Just last week I remembered this and what I was supposed to do with it. I have been neglecting my wrists and forearms because the pain was minimal. Within weeks of minimal pain I have severe pain. So now I make time before and after my massage day to take care with my forearms and do what is necessary to avoid injury.

  60. I love this technique! It’s quick and easy and it really helps. I can tell an immediate difference in how much circulation and extra blood flow is going through my arms.

  61. I really like this technique and need to do it more often because I overuse my wrists and forearms at work, and at home. It will definitely come in handy when I start my externship and will help me protect my wrists from being injured or developing carpal tunnel. Thanks Ross!

  62. I have loved this technique since the first time Ross taught it to us in our CLD class. It is great to know techniques like this to help yourself after a long day of massages and to show your clients for homework 🙂

  63. when we learned this technique before, I told my sister about it and then I forgot about it. I will check in with her and see if she is still doing it or remind her and if she is ask her if there is any improvement.

  64. I find this is why it is evermore necessary to take my time and center my effort in the assessment process, especially when dealing with “Carpal Tunnel groupies” (people who swear every year that they are developing Carpal Tunnel). I definitely understand the large role client homework plays in this case in particular.

  65. Going to be honest It has been awhile sense I have used this technique but while reading it and performing it at the same time I forgot how much it helped. I must really try and remember to do this every night it does not take long and you can really feel the results in minutes, well for me anyway. Another great blog Ross!

  66. I find this great info as I know many people who have Carpal Tunnel Issues. I hope to not have carpal tunnel issues and do the right proper body mechanics.
    But this blog will help me with friends and clients who have Carpal Tunnel Issues. Thanks

  67. Great info!!! Love this technique! I just sent my sister this info (she has carpal tunnel issues). I’m really hoping this helps her and am excited to have the information to share with future clients. The techniques are simple and helpful for treatment and prevention! Thanks!!

  68. I’m always rolling and stretching my wrists because they hurt so much and they pop every time I do this. This was a great technique for loosening up those muscles without having to pop my wrists! Thank you

  69. I have been tested before for Carpal Tunnel. The test was easy, the doctor placed an small needle on my wrist and forearm while it sent little charges. The charges was to be testing the degree of damage if any. I was diagnosed with mild to moderate about 3-4 years ago. However now I can just be texting someone and my pinky fingers will go numb within minutes.

  70. i love this treatment, makes my wrist feel more fluid if its feeling stiff 🙂 wright now i have hurt my arm (banged it into a doorknob) so i had to be a little gentle with that arm. but i find this treatment does help me.

  71. I have done this technique everyday since I was in CLD when Ross showed our class. I started school with doctors telling me I have carpel tunnel syndrome but since I have started doing this it seems to have gone away for the most part!

  72. I know for me it hurts me more up by my elbow or in little tiny areas on the forearm that never referred anywhere else

  73. I love this technique for the forearms. It feels great as a stress relief after giving people massages all day.

  74. When we learned this technique in class I was very impressed. These are quick, simple techniques that work. I can use them, teach my friends/family to use them, or even do the techniques for them. My dad recently had surgery for his carpal tunnel, I wish I had known these techniques then, they may have helped his condition. But I am sure going to pass them along to him for future reference!

  75. I used to have some wrist problems a few years ago so I know first hand what it can be like. My were not as severe as some people have but it definitely gave me an insight as to what it is like.

  76. Im with sarah, it hurts my elbow but i guess i can try putting my elbow into a pad rather than just on the table.

  77. I have been doing a stretch like this for a while and has help me. I will trying doing this and see how it helps me.

  78. OK…I know in my heart that all of us should be doing these exercises daily as preventative health care. They really do feel good, even the ones that hurt a bit.

  79. Carpal tunnel exercises can help prevent and ease the pain, and often times they may offer some relief.
    If we aren’t consistent with doing these exercises the pain and discomfort will most likely return.
    You can try this movement series at the start and end of your work shift, as well as during any breaks you take throughout the day. Being Consistent is key!!

  80. Sometime I wake up with wrist pain because my wrist never got a break. I do this
    technique all the time.

  81. I truly enjoy this self-help technique, I use it often after a long day in the saddle. My forearms and hands get a real sore because of the repetitive motion of holding the reins in my hands at a specific location.

  82. I’ve never really had a problem with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, numb wrists and fingers, but I do have sore arms after a workout. When I work my arms out really hard my arms get really sore. But I have been doing some self-massage techniques to help with my sore arms. They are miracle workers

  83. This is great, I always sleep in fetal position, so I often wake up a little sore. I’ll have to try this out more in the mornings. Thank you!

  84. I have started doing this exercise before I go to bed at night and i love it. I sleep in the fetal position with my arm under my pillow and I tend to wake up in the middle of the night with a tingling in my arm because it is numb. But since I have been doing these exercises It has been getting better!!!

  85. I sleep with my hands curled up weird and I will wake up and they will be asleep and sore. we learned these stretches my first day of class and they feel amazing.

  86. I do not think that I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome but I could definitely give these techniques a try!

  87. I have been doing this and pec stretches every night for the last 4 weeks before I go to bed and have noticed that I don’t experience numbness and tingling as frequently.

  88. I thankfully do not have issues with carpal tunnel yet.. knock on wood. If I do later in life from massage therapy, I will be prepared for it, which makes me very happy.

  89. I will be doing this next time I give a massage and some of these things on myself seeming how I have bad wrist.

  90. well, it feels pretty good. and it gives me something to do with my hands in class when im not taking notes. i didnt feel like having carpel tunnel syndrome in the future anyway

  91. its interesting how our bodies tend to hold onto and remember things,even after the activity is long past.

  92. Thank you for this exercise. It is something great to do after a long day at work and school. Also thanks for the mention of stretching before bed, that is a great idea!

  93. I am definetly using this to help my wrists. Since I have started massage therapy I have had sore wrists and I’m scared I will get carpal tunnel in them. I am trying to remember to massage and stretch them but have had to take ibuprophen on a regular basis.This will help me because I have had trouble doing more than 4 massages a day already. Thanks for the tips

  94. This is also a good blog to have copies of on hand to be able to give to clients, so they can have their homework in writing and on hand.

  95. You should me these things in Cld really appreciated them, I have shown them to my coworkers, and has really made a difference.

  96. During the spring and summer I work outside in my yard a lot. This technique will be awesome when that time comes to help relax my arms afterwords.

  97. After doing deep tissue in class my forearms were pretty sore, after following these steps it greatly reduced the pain.

  98. this blog is an eye opener i have been having alot of pain in my fingers and wrist and it has helped me figure a way to help it im thankful

  99. Great technique it really helped me today after we did deep tissue massage. I look forward to using this technique more and sharing with my friends and family

  100. this feels real nice to do on your own arms, I will probably try to do this more often as I use my hands all of the time.

  101. This is some great information on how to help your self and others to give relief in the forearm area thanks for this bit of info

  102. I love this exercise. I’m a server and a massage student so my wrists go through a LOT. From digging into clients on the table, to lifting heavy trays wider than me up and over my head with one arm at work. I’ve showed this technique to a lot of the other servers where I work and when they do it, they love it. Of course they prefer for me to do it, but benefit from it just as much when they self massage. This blog was super.

  103. I did this technique while I was in church, because we had been doing deep tissue all week and we were about to do it again the next day. My forearms and hands and especially my thumbs felt 20x better when I woke up, compared to how they felt the previous two mornings. Also, this technique helps out the pressure/pain I feel sometimes in my knuckles.

  104. I’m really excited to know these tips! I hope to be able to use them on my clients to help them.

  105. I use my hands for more than just massage therapy, such as rock climbing, and gardening. So it’s nice to invest some time to massage my hands and forearms

  106. Typing and using the mouse all day is no bueno on my hands and wrists. Love the stretches and techniques mentioned. I will definitely be doing that daily.

  107. Wow this treatment was amazing and felt so good. I enjoyed it and am definitely going to be working this in to my routine thoughout the day as often as i can and think about it.

  108. This a simple technique that is easy to teach and useful where ever there is a table. For just about everyone

  109. Once again a good blog we did this producer in class and they seemed to help a lot. I think I will put this producer in to my practice.

  110. I have pain in my fore arms, doing the treatment above makes it feel better, I need to get better at doing it daily.

  111. Very useful information. I’m sure all of us massage therapist should incorporate this into our day as a preventatitive measure, so that we may massage for a long time.

  112. I think that is neat that massage therapy can help prevent carpal tunnel. Would much rather do exercises and massages to keep from having surgery.

  113. I like how this is a simple treatment any one can do any where. It feels really good to do on yourself. And it is awesome homework to tell people to do.

  114. I dont have carpal tunnel syndrome but this exercise did help stretch my forearm. I like learning these stretches so i can give them as homework to clients.

  115. I have been doing this my whole life, only for the sole reason of it feeling good. Now I know it has been helping me.

  116. I have thankfully never had any problems with my wrists or forearms. The exercises feel great and it’s never too early to start good habits for your health! Thank you!

  117. Popeye had some great forearms. I can’t help but wonder if he had trouble assessing his forearms because he couldn’t get his own hand all the way around them?

  118. I know so many people who have carpal tunnel. This will help them so much! As a massage therapist these are good stretches to get in the habit of doing.