Picture this: Sheila is a devoted yoga practitioner and likes to stay fit by lifting weights and playing sports when she isn’t sitting in front of her computer or driving her son to and from school. She continually complains of pain in her wrists and hands when performing Downward Dog or plank during her yoga practice.
The repetitive motions of her daily life (driving, texting, typing, lifting weights etc.) are enough to throw her wrist and hand muscles into overdrive, which causes pain, tension and discomfort.
Since we can’t put life on hold, practice self care that will help build strength and dexterity required for planks and downward dogs.
The Original Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball is the perfect size for releasing tension in the extensor and flexor muscle groups in your forearm. Start with any of the ball sequences and rolling techniques (pin and stretch, pin, spin and mobilize, relax/contract) as shown in Jill Miller’s book, The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body. Specifically, the sequence on page 314 (sequence 13) will help the muscles of your forearms by:
- Releasing tension in the muscles
- Improving blood and oxygen flow in the tissues
- Increasing range of motion
- Reducing and/or alleviating pain
- Changing texture and quality of tissues in surrounding areas
Use this hand and wrist YTU Therapy Ball sequence to get started.
For exercises, Piano Fingers can help to improve mobility and endurance of the hands and wrists. Watch how to do it with Jill here:
Dancing with myself is a great way to release tension of the entire shoulder/elbow/wrist/hand. See how to do it with YTU Teacher Brooke Thomas below.
Incorporate these classic Yoga Tune Up exercises and you will get the relief you are looking for. Don’t forget to learn a proper Down Dog, plank etc. and put down those phones while taking breaks from the computer!
I love the exercise of dancing with oneself with the wall! This is an effective exercise for downward facing dog. Thanks
As a massage therapist and a waitress I use my forearm a lot and I am always looking for new movements to have a variety of movements in my day. I especially loved the dancing with myself arms.. made me think of a hula hoop movement we do but in a static way (closed chain) instead of an open chain when we do it with our hoop… I will surely add this as a warming. Thank you
Great exercises for anyone who spends too much time at a computer (so basically, everyone)… stretching out those little T-Rex arms and bringing circulation and proprioception back into the hands and shoulder joints.
Interesting dancing with myself arms. Will have to try with students!
So good to know! I always thought I had weak wrists, but now I’m understanding that they are just stressed and tight from everyday activities! I will be working on my “piano fingers”.
So helpful! Love Dancing With Myself!
My chronic wrist pain went away once I started working on my pull-ups. After some good warm-ups for my wrists and shoulders, I made sure to squeeze the bar evenly with all of my fingers prior to pulling up. It takes a lot of focus to maintain during the movement, but it’s been totally worth it for me. Now, inversions and hand balances are much more comfortable on my wrists.
Thank you so much for these tips on how to undo little t-Rex arms! I, like a lot of people, have a desk job that is constraining and bad for the joints and strength of my body. These are the tips and tricks I need in order to counter that restriction and it’s effects over time. It is really important to get these in! Thanks again!
I experience some wrist pain and with just being exposed to YTU knowledge this particular entry may help me. Thanks
I like the advice of using the balls here to help release the wrists and forearms. Sometimes I forgot/overthink an issue with a client, immediately taking my thoughts to the larger muscles in the center of the body and how they may be overworking or underworking. Moreover, this is a lovely reminder that knowing a client’s daily routine can influence the quality/direction of a yoga practice.
Love the tips on working on the wrists and fingers not to mention to mobilize the shoulders for a better down dog !
The great thing about this is you can do this articulation virtually anywhere. I even try to change the sequence and then reverse the new sequence. Try to articulate the ring finger first and then follow with the rest, notice if one hand is easier than the other.
I usually only experience wrist pain when practicing too many inversions and arm balances, but I just did the ‘piano fingers’ and my forearms felt tight!! I loved it! I will incorporate before and after practices now!
The exercise of dancing with oneself with the wall is a fun and effective exercise for this pose and that I do not do often enough. thanks for the reminder
I learned this exercice on my 2nd or 3rd day of YTU training and I’m doing it everyday since! I also did this exercice with my family and my HIIT group. It was very funny to see their reaction about how their arms were moving with the wall. It is a perfect way to get/feel all the different directions of movement of the shoulders; the closed chain helps a lot to get more range of movement!
Piano fingers will defenitly be in my daily routine, so easy to practice at any moment of your day, line up, red light, work, watching tv, reading…
I like the finger articulations for the wrists and “dancing with myself for the shoulders–I’ll be adding those to my warmups as often and possible 🙂
I really appreciated learning about the finger exercise. Although many people think downward dog is a simple pose, it can often be done incorrectly. I sometimes struggle with the pose, but find that the finger exercise has helped to improve the posture for me.
great ideas for wrists, fingers and forearms. So many people can benefit from these stretches. thank you
Great hands, wrists and fingers exercises. Going use in my classes
Thank you Sue. I have had pain in my wrists too and still sometimes experience it again. So next time I will first get my YTU balls to do some rolling and then do some strengthening exercises. The piano fingers are great!
Thanks for sharing! Great technique for arm and shoulder release! Just tried it, I was not able to turn around fully but about a few try, it was getting easier and easier. I did feel my shoulders are lighter afterwards. Thanks!
Downward Dog and many weight bearing poses have always been a challenge with my students at any level in a class. I think I will try to incorporate more wrist and forearm exercises in the classes I teach. The best part of doing the exercises you recommend is that they are actually fun to do!.
love that piano fingers move, feels so good and simple to do anywhere 🙂
The piano fingers are new to me and I love them. So easy and quick to do at the beginning of any class to unwind the day of computer/desk work. Dancing with myself is one of my favourites in LEVEL 1. I noticed that in the video she didnt put her whole hand against the wall. We were taught to put the whole hand on the wall as we rotate. Great exercises to prep for Downward Dog!
Really loved the finger video, as I moved with her and found it quite difficult to co-ordinate each finger. I finally got it. It gives you the realisation that we need to move every part individually and with focus. Thanks for this!
Excellent information! Downward Dog is so prevalent in yoga classes, but it seems to be a struggle for so many people. And in some cases, people aren’t even aware of the longterm damage that they can do to wrists and shoulders by muscling through one Downward Dog after another. Thanks for the therapeutic tips!
The finger exercise will be great one for my students in our warm up. I have a few that have wrist problems and for those that don’t, it’s a great brain exercise as well. Amazing how simple movements can be brain twisters as well.
This was harder than I expected! I didn’t see the veins trying to move the blood to the heart but I did feel my forearms work in ways that I’ve never felt before. I like that you can d this anywhere.
I’m excited to try some of these techniques. My wrist injury is not from overuse but I am quite excited to see how the YTU balls and system will impact my pain and functioning of my hand and wrist. Thank you.
I’ve suffered from wrist pain for years, I had just accepted it. This article and video gives me hope. I just tried dancing with myself for the first time today and I can imagine how this could offer some relief to the area. I’m really looking forward to practicing these and seeing what results.
The forearm can be an overlooked area for rolling, but oh does it feel so good. Thanks for the tips and resources.
My fingers are so stupid!! How can they type so fast yet they cannot articulate one at a time?! I love the piano fingers exercise, but the Dancing with Myself is even better. It loosened up my shoulders, forearms, and fingers, and it also amused my husband immensely. 🙂
Great information. I have several students who have this issue. Hopefully the suggested ball sequence and piano fingers will help them. Just another reminder that our hands and feet take a lot of daily abuse and need some TLC.
I am very excited to bring this to my yoga class as a warm-up and everyday helper for wrist tension and pain. Thank you!
Thank you for posting this!!!
I am a dancer and alot of my movement is upper body oriented which can lead to very tense shoulders, and tight areas around the shoulders. So the “dancing with myself”, which is totally new to me, can be a great warm up for my self and my students.
I have clients who complain about their forearms hurting them, even after a traditional massage or used adjustments and blocks in downward facing dog. These great YTU poses are so helpful and accessible. Thank you for sharing.
I was surprised how hard the piano fingers and the Dancing with myself exercises were. With beginning arthritis in my hands I will definitely make this part of my daily routine, and will introduce Dancing with myself to my yoga students as a warm up once i have mastered it myself. Thanks for posting!
Thank you Sue for posting this. I found myself challenged by the piano fingers, but also noticed and increase in the range of motion and blood flow in my hands and forearms. I am definitely sharing this one with a couple of friends who have carpal tunnel.
Thanks for posting these exercises! It’s a great way to release shoulders and arms tension and fingers stiffness. I’ll definitely incorporate Piano Fingers and Dancing with Myself exercises into my yoga warm up routine whenever possible.
I’m a pianist, which I thought would give me an advantage in articulating each finger. I found it was still hard! I’m going to add this to my pre-practice warmup sequence and encourage my piano students to do the same.
Sitting at my desk I just practiced piano fingers for the first time. It was much harder than I expected! This is something simply that can be done every day. I have a few students with arthritis in their hands that this exercise would be perfect for.
This is an excellent reminder to take care of my hands. Even though I practice yoga regularly to counteract the internal rotation of my shoulders, I found the ring finger on my right hand tightening up. The tendon seemed to be shortening. I have been looking for exercises just like Jill Miller’s Piano fingers, which definitely help with mobility. I also moved my mouse over to the left side of my keyboard and am working much more consciously with my right hand and rolling it out with Yoga Tune Up balls at least twice a day.
This is a great reminder that even if we don’t have full out Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, our repetitive daily activities can be causing issues that only come to light when we try something like Downward Facing Dog. I now think of Downward Facing Dog as a posture to carefully and intentionally build up to by first releasing tension in the flexor and extensor forearm muscles as well as in the muscles of the shoulders.
I have many students who complain of wrist pain in downdog, especially when first beginning their yoga practice, these are some great exercises to share with them! I knew about Dancing with myself but Piano fingers is a great one!
I’ll be showing the lifters at my CrossFit box the finger articulation exercise this week. They already dig the “dancing with myself” warmup.