Fingerspelling Warm-Up Activities to Prevent Repetitive Motion Injuries
Just as athletes warm up and increase their stamina in increments, so should signers. This is especially important when first learning to fingerspell and sign. You should do warm-up stretches before fingerspelling practice. Focused fingerspelling practice is often for extended lengths of time, and will work parts of your body that may not be attuned to that type of exercise. Warming up can limit potential cumulative trauma disorders.
The following warm-up stretches work to reduce the amount of stress the hand, wrist, arm, and shoulder receive while fingerspelling and signing. Before you begin practicing your fingerspelling, begin with a variety of warm-ups.
Fingerspelling Warm-Up Activities:
1. Shoulder Shrugs
Slowly raise and drop shoulders several times.
2. Shoulder Press
Slowly stretch arms above your head until they meet with your palms together. Gently lower them to shoulder level, palms together and hands up in front of your head. Repeat.
3. Finger Lifts
Place hand palm down on a table or flat surface and slowly raise and lower each finger. Repeat with the other hand.
4. Full Arm Stretch
Hold arm out parallel to the floor, palm down. Lock elbow. Raise your hand so the fingertips point to the ceiling. With the other hand, gently press the raised fingers (all at once) back toward your body for a five-count; alternate with the other hand and repeat twice.
5. Finger Stretch
With arms stretched out in front of you, palms down, slowly open and close hands, stretching the fingers apart as far as possible. Repeat several times.
6. Wrist Revolutions
With closed hands, slowly rotate wrists in toward each other several times. Then rotate wrists away from each other several times.
Following this warm-up routine before you begin practicing fingerspelling will help prevent repetitive motion injuries, and will enhance the "fingerspelling muscles" over time!