Earlier this spring, one of my students not-so-jokingly suggested I offer a YTU workshop for the Fiber Arts. After the chuckling subsided I considered the merit of her request.

It had been a long, cold and very snowy New England winter—the sort that turns even the most anti-craft people (including yours truly) into knitters, needle pointers and quilters. While our finished stashes of sweaters, pillows and blankets could rival the Amish, there wasn’t one among us who didn’t suffer from an achy, numb feeling down our dominant arms that ended with tingling in our pinkie.

Holding the thumb and forefinger together for prolonged periods of time within a very limited range of motion tenses muscles running up the arms and into the shoulder and neck, especially of the dominant hand. That tingling or numb sensation is often caused by constriction of the 8th cervical nerve. That’s right, C8. We have 7 cervical vertebrae but 8 cervical nerves. C8 does not have its own vertebra but exits the cervical spine below the 7th cervical vertebra to branch down our arms.

While massaging the arms and shaking out the hands sometimes provides temporary relief, the next time you or a client experience that pins-and-needles feeling in the pinkie fingers, focus your YTU therapy balls on the nape of the neck to help relieve muscle constriction around C8.

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Christine Jablonski

I believe most people who end up in the fitness profession are trying to heal themselves. Fifteen years ago I sought out SPIN to rehabilitate a full knee reconstruction. Ten years ago I started Pilates to help me recover from a horseback riding accident. More recently, as still-young age and old injuries caught up with me, I began a restorative and Kripalu yoga practice. In every instance, with every discipline, I've experienced a moment of “ahhh....I want to make everyone feel this good.” And so began my path toward fitness studio ownership where I could keep my classes small and focused on my client's journeys from injury, through healing, and on to strength. In addition to figuring out how my clients and I could feel even better (as well as look better in our jeans), curiosity about human biomechanics led me to study with Helena Collins of Life in Synergy, Sadie Nardini of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, and of course, Jill Miller. Combing the knowledge from these tremendous teachers with my strong Pilates background has enabled me to create exceptionally effective programs for my clients, who range from joint replacement patients needing post-physical therapy help to the “uninjured” wanting stronger, better aligned bodies so they can experience life to the fullest.

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Kristin Marvin

It’s always so fascinating to know how the body is interwoven in such a unique fashion. Each vertebrae plays an integral role in the body with its nerves. And even back/pelvic muscles can seriously effect other muscles of the body. For example if you have a tight psoas, then you will most likely have a tight trapezius and have a tough time with shoulder flexion. I would like to learn all the nerve innervations soon!

Rachel Mattison

It wasn’t long ago that knitting was all the rage in Boston. Women were knitting hats, gloves, scarves on the T, on the weekends, everywhere I turned. I thought I might be a little crafty too, so I got some needles and yarn and went to town. They said it was relaxing – and I whole-heartedly disagree. My hands and arms were so tense, my eyes putting laser focus on every pearl, my neck tensed so deeply that I was on my way to becoming a hunchback. I gave up knitting and went about my regular neck stretches. Knowing the… Read more »

Andrea Penagos

It’s also helpful to use the therapy balls to knead out the thenar and hypothenar eminences on the hand, which is where the abductor, adductor, opponens and flexor muscles of the thumb and pinky live, respectively. Writing, knitting, painting, typing etc. requires the hand to be contracted to varying degrees depending on your hand position, so giving these often neglected body conglomerations of muscles a rub-down may be incredibly helpful… and it feels really good!

Jessica Cetrangelo

Great advice. I can totally relate to the circumstance of the long New England winter and looking for an warm and creative activity. A friend is going to teach me how to knit, and I’m glad to have this knowledge before I start!

stephanie cleary

I’ve had this pain in my neck and shoulder which started from sleeping on my side. My friend is an osteopath and she worked on this for me. She discovered it was not only my scapula and clavical, but it was the C8 as well. I never thought of associating it with knitting I’ve been doing for Waldorf teacher training!

Dr Gemma

In episode 109 of the CogKnitive podcast, I sing the praises of the YTU balls for runners, but also for knitted, spinners, and fiber crafters. Just so you know. I am also telling patients about them and about your website in my private practice as a psychologist. My thanks to Jill Miller for also posting about this.


I am an avid cyclist who after some long rides experience tingly and numbness in the pinky and ring finger. I was told the cause was from the constant pressure on the ulna nerve. Cycling gloves with gel and T-bars have been suggested. All which work to some extent. I have also been prescribed wrist braces for sleep and massage in the carpal area of my hand. Yoga unfortunately can also aggravate the problem when I have done one too many downdogs or other poses that have put pressure on my ulna nerve. This C8 connection has never been expressed… Read more »


As a self proclaimed Fiber Floozy, I was happy to see this post. I’ve only recently started using the YTU therapy balls and am already a convert. In fact I may have to pick up a set for my husband who suffers from a tingly pinky thanks to gaming on the iPhone.

Eva Berswick

Good to know. I had the tingling in my pinky and in my thumb and after going through extensive testing, x-rays, nerve conduction testing, I was sent away that sorry you have arthritis in your hand, which I don’t. After starting to practice yoga suddenly my symptoms have gone away. Learning about and practicing with the YTU balls and techniques I’m assured that they won’t come back either. I can’t wait to teach these fantastic techniques to my students.


This is a personal topic for me! I slipped the disc between my C5 and C6 vertebrae a few years ago. I sought out all sorts of treatment for the symptoms ranging from a painfully stiff neck and shoulders that prevented sleep to tingling and numbness in both arms and hands. Doctors prescribed muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety medication that only temporarily masked the problem. Fortunately, with the help of an osteopath, i found a solution that has enabled me to return to most of my yoga practice. I look forward to exploring Yoga Tune Up techniques to release the tight… Read more »