If You Have Carpal Tunnel, Avoid These Exercises and Do This

When you have carpal tunnel, it can be hard to exercise regularly, especially because some exercises can make your carpal tunnel symptoms worse. So, what exercises should you avoid doing if you have carpal tunnel?

People with carpal tunnel should avoid doing push-ups, planks bench presses, deadlifts, and pull-ups. However, exercises such as squats, leg presses, wrist rotations, wrist curls, prone T’s, and hand grip exercises are great for people with carpal tunnel.

Keep reading to learn more about what exercises you should and should not do if you have carpal tunnel.

Exercises to Avoid If You Have Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel can be incredibly painful, especially after you work out. If you want to avoid unnecessary pain, you should avoid doing exercises that involve using your hands and wrists. This means you should stay away from push-ups, planks, deadlifts, pull-ups, and lifting weights.

Let’s talk more about why you should avoid doing these exercises.

Lifting Weights

Lifting weights when you have carpal tunnel can put a lot of stress on your hands and wrists. Even though you exercise a lot of your arm and shoulder muscles when lifting weights, you have to guide the weights with your lower arms and grip the weights quite firmly so you don’t accidentally drop them. This can cause your carpal tunnel symptoms to flare up.

Push Ups

While doing push-ups can strengthen your arm muscles, while doing them you have to support the weight of your entire body with your hands and wrist joints. This can put a lot of stress on your wrists and hands, even if you are doing modified push-ups. Because of the amount of stress this exercise puts on your hands and wrists, avoid doing push-ups at all costs if you have carpal tunnel.


While most people rest on their forearms while doing planks, most people’s hands tense up while they are doing this exercise. If you do planks for long enough, your hands will hurt because of how tense you are.

Twisting planks are especially bad for people with carpal tunnel because you have to hold all of your body weight on one arm. This puts an unnecessary amount of stress on your forearms, which can aggravate carpal tunnel symptoms.

Bench Presses

When doing bench presses, you have to grip the bar holding the weights quite firmly, which can aggravate your symptoms. If you have to do bench presses to meet your fitness or strength goals, wear a wrist brace while doing them and ice your hands and wrists afterward.


You’ll want to void doing deadlifts for the same reason you should stay away from bench presses. Deadlifts are often considered worse than bench presses for those with carpal tunnel syndrome because when doing bench presses, your back and shoulders support the weight of the bar and what you are lifting. When doing deadlifts, your shoulders and back don’t hold any of the weight you are lifting. Your arms do the work so you can complete the exercise, which puts a lot of strain on your hands and wrists.


When you do pull-ups, you have to pull all of your body weight up with your arms. This can put a lot of strain on your wrists and hands, especially if you do it incorrectly.

Exercises to Do If You Have Carpal Tunnel

While there are a lot of exercises that you should avoid doing when you have carpal tunnel syndrome, there are some things you can do to exercise. Here are some of the exercises you can do without aggravating your carpal tunnel symptoms.


You can definitely do squats, as this exercise doesn’t involve putting pressure on your hands or wrists. When you do squats, you work your gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hip flexors, calves, and hamstrings.

Leg Presses

Leg presses are great for people with carpal tunnel, as it doesn’t require you to use your hands. This means that this exercise won’t aggravate your carpal tunnel symptoms. Keep your hands to your sides while doing leg presses.

Wrist Rotations

If you want to strengthen your wrists without being in a lot of pain, do wrist rotations regularly. To do wrist rotations, simply move your hands up, down, to the left, then to the right. Only move your hands, not your arms, while doing these motions.

Avoid doing these exercises when you are in pain, especially when the pain is sharp.

Wrist Curls

Wrist curls can also strengthen your wrists without causing you a lot of pain. While sitting or standing, pick up a 1-pound weight or can of beans, tomatoes, or any other canned item you have on hand.

With one hand, while keeping your elbow at your side, lift your forearm until your arm looks like an “L”. Keep your palm facing down. Then, bend your hand up at the wrist. After a few seconds, return it to normal, so your entire arm looks like an “L” again, Repeat this process about 10 times.

Hand Grip Exercises

Hand grip exercises are great for people with carpal tunnel. To do hand grip exercises, squeeze a soft rubber ball. A small stress ball will likely work. If you don’t have either of these items, squeeze a pair of rolled-up socks instead. Squeeze the item of your choice for up to 5 seconds. Then release. Repeat the process up to 10 times.

Prone Ts

Prone T’s are great for people with carpal tunnel syndrome because they allow you to work your shoulder muscles without straining your hands or wrists.

To do Prone T’s, lie down on your stomach. Put a small pillow or rolled-up towel under your forehead so you are comfortable. Move your arms until your body looks like the letter “T”. Then, lift your arms and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Make sure to keep your arms straight. After a few seconds, relax your shoulders. Repeat the process 20-30 times.

Overall, while carpal tunnel syndrome may somewhat limit the number of exercises you can do, it won’t stop you from staying fit and healthy.


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