Do your clients complain they have pain in their hands and wrists while in downward dog, plank, performing a chaturanga and any position where they are bearing weight on their hands with the wrists in extension?
We have many muscles in the hands and forearms that can contribute to this painful issue. We use the flexors of the forearms and wrists countless times each day: Texting, holding the steering wheel to drive, blow drying hair, brushing teeth, eat, open a car door, using tools to drill ,hammer , rakes and shovels to garden…the list goes on.
Meet the hardworking flexors of the wrist and hand:
flexor carpi radialis, palmaris longus, flexor digitorum superficialis flexor digitorum profundus and the thenar group, which is the pad of muscles at the base of your thumb.
The five flexor muscles listed above create flexion primarily at the wrist or fingers. They are located on the forearm’s anterior/medial surface (the hairless side of the forearm) between the brachioradialis and the ulnar shaft. Most of the flexors originate from the common flexor tendon at the medial epicondyle of the humerus. The bellies of the flexors extend down the forearm becoming tendons near the wrist.
Maybe if we were a waiter or waitress holding a weighted tray face up in one hand all the time, our range of motion in extension of the wrist would not be an issue.
Now, meet extensor group – Extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor radialis brevis, extensor ulnaris and extensor digitorum create extension primarily at the wrist and fingers. They originate on the lateral side of the humerus with their tendons anchoring near the wrist.
When you shake someone’s hands to say hello and your elbow is flexed 90 degrees or if you make a claw hand grip gesture, you will see the extensor digitorum tendons come to the surface on the top of your hands. Keyboard use contracts the extensor digitorum, which can lead to tightness and a restriction of the range of motion of your fingers and wrists. Performing a “Clean & Press” with a barbell can damage or overstretch your wrist because of the weight and quick action from flexion to extension.
So, now you have the basic anatomy of the forearm’s flexor and extensor muscles. Come back later this week for Part 2, where I’ll show you how to take the “BARK!” out of your Down Dog!