Fingerspelling Warm-Up Activities to Prevent Repetitive Motion Injuries

Fingerspelling Warm-Up Activities to Prevent Repetitive Motion Injuries

By Brenda Cartwright
Wednesday, February 1, 2023

This article is written by Brenda Cartwright (BC). Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher and a well known author. BC also contributes numerous blog articles for Signing Savvy. Look for them on the “Articles” tab on our website.

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.

Shoulder Shrugs

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.

Shoulder Press

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.

Finger Lifts

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.

Full Arm Stretch

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.

Finger Stretch

6. Wrist Revolutions

With closed hands, slowly rotate wrists in toward each other several times. Then rotate wrists away from each other several times.

Wrist Revolutions

Following this warm-up routine before you begin practicing fingerspelling will help prevent repetitive motion injuries, and will enhance the "fingerspelling muscles" over time!

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About the Author

Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For 35 years Brenda was the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

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