If you’ve ever watched a concert pianist, it seems like their fingers float over the keys, gliding seamlessly from one note to the next. The ability to move the fingers with this fluidity requires simultaneously relaxing the hands while pressing the fingers over the keys. Similar to Yoga, perfecting this balance of effort and ease takes years of practice. Too much tension in the hands interrupts the smooth flow of the fingers over the keys like too much tension in the body interrupts the flow in a vinyasa.
The tension that builds in the thumb joint as a result of overworking the thumbs is a common complaint with people who spend a lot of their day texting or emailing from their phones. Recently, a friend complained that she felt pain in her right thumb during down dog. The pain began shortly after a long train ride where she spent hours texting from her phone. During the vinyasa class she wasn’t able to get any pain relief for her thumbs as there were no counter poses targeting this area. I suggested she try Piano Fingers from the Yoga Tune Up® Quick fix Rx for the Hands and Wrists.
This thumb exercise helps articulate the movement of the thumb in opposition to the other fingers – adducting and flexing the thumb as opposed to abducting and extending the thumb as in texting. The beauty of this exercise is that it requires very relaxed hands in order to rapidly move the fingers like you’re playing the piano. This helps to release tension in the thumb joint arising from too much texting. After a week of weaving this exercise into her yoga regime, my friend reported that her thumb felt better and less painful. She was even inspired to play the piano which she hadn’t done in years!
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