While I was finishing high school, my mother worked as the manager of a woman’s clothing store in the mall. My mom is intense, and whatever she does, she does with gusto. Unfortunately for her, she would ring in orders on the cash register with the ferocity of a mad concert pianist. This left her with repetitive stress injuries in her wrists, which led to the dreaded diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and ensuing surgery. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome implies that the median nerve that runs through the forearms into the wrist and hands has been compressed and is no longer functioning well.
Having a disorder of the forearms, wrists or hands renders us practically inoperable. If we cannot use our hands, we are severely limited in almost every possible action. I created Yoga Tune Up® so I could help folks like my mom prevent and heal from the many aches and pains that besiege our bodies no matter what we do in life, with carpal tunnel yoga therapy exercises. In fact, the first yoga video I ever made was a holiday gift for my mom.
Now, Mom’s doing great. She loves her carpal tunnel stretches and using her computer (and recently discovered Facebook). She’s keeping her wrists and forearms pliable and healthy so that she can “knit some booties” when that day comes!
3 Moves for Healthy Forearms, Hands and Wrists
The precise moves that occur at our fingertips can be easily compromised if we don’t take care of these precious parts. This week I’ll be blogging about three simple ways to make a difference in your own grippers with simple wrist pain exercises. First step after the jump!
Prevention = Ambidexterity
Carpal Tunnel is most often found in our dominant hand. A very simple way you can prevent the constant accumulation of stress and strain in your dominant hand and wrist is to start switching little mundane tasks into your opposite hand. For example, if you are right handed and use your computer’s mouse with the right hand, switch it to the left hand. At first it will feel totally exotic, clunky and unnatural, but trust me on this one, it will make a huge difference in your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders AND neck! Get past the awkward first day, and you will forget which hand was dominant in no time.
Maintenance = Stretching
When the word “flexibility” is mentioned, most folks think about touching their toes and stretching their hamstrings. But the smaller finer muscles of the body need to remain open, flexible and strong to function well, too.
We are “graspers” by nature, holding onto objects, tools, steering wheels and the like — so the flexors of our forearms are disproportionately tight! To keep the fine flexors of the forearms and wrists supple, they need to have their own stretch series. On Wednesday I’ll be posting a video of a great wrist extension yoga therapy for carpal tunnel stretch that is part of the 10 Minute Quick Fix for Hands, Wrists and Elbows DVD found here.
Prevention = Exercise
On Friday, I’ll be posting a genius dolphin variation pose I learned from Richard Rosen at the Piedmont Yoga Studio last December to strengthen the long muscles on top of the forearms.
Learn about our solutions for hand and wrist pain.
Watch our free 5 minute Quickfix video for hand and wrist pain relief.
Prevention is key to maintaining wellness as we age. I am going to try these recommendations.
thanks for these suggestions! i’m teaching people who work on computers and these suggestions are so helpful and a reminder that yoga can offer relief and functional help for every body
Great Article! I am an Occupational Therapy student and saw a wide range of carpal tunnel syndrome patients. It is so omnipresent these days, because people do not ever extend their wrists. Tenodesis is also a great way to initiate finger flexion, just by extending the wrist.
A lot of people I know don’t like yoga because they have poor wrist function. Modifications are great, but I think it’s always good to correct the issue if possible. Thank you for providing practical solutions to a common problem.
ooh I just did the forearms and wrists video and I wished I’d had that little exercise when I was playing the piano! I’ve been rolling out my forearms for years using one forearm as a ‘rolling pin’ on the other forearm from the elbow to the wrist so I thought I was alright in this department till I tried that video. Dolphin Supinate also brings tears to my eyes, carpal tunnel syndrome is definitely something you want to stop before it starts.
My daughter is a photographer and just turned to me and said her hands and wrists are aching after 3 eveings of photo shoots. She holds the weight of the heavy camera while putting the rest of her body in very awkward position. This not only stressing her wrists and forarms but the whole body. We are practicing and feeling the warmth of YTU wrist extension and forearm video right now! Thank you YTU 🙂
What a terrific article! It’s true that we forget that we need to stretch all the little ligaments and muscles that make up the hands and feet! So often we focus on the large muscle and joints like the hamstrings and the hips. I learned when I was pregnant that Carpal Tunnel is very common during pregnancy . As a yoga teacher I never really understood how debilitating and painful Carpal Tunnel could be, I thought of it like a Class B injury, along the lines of a light sprain. Then I got it during my own pregnancy. Although I expected it to go away after the birth of my son, it got worse. Probably from carrying him around a lot. But there were a couple of key things that helped: re-establishing wrist flexibility was number one. Re-assessing my weight distribution in my hands during yoga practice was also very enlightening because I realized I had been using my thumbs as breaks, widening them more than necessary. In the end, reducing stress on the hands helped and ice, ice baby!
I have noticed that I can pretty much relax every part of my body, but I have difficulty relaxing the muscles in my dominant hand. As a lefty, I am lucky to have a but of natural ambidexterity. Making an active effort to use my right hand more will hopefully help my left hand’s ability to relax and prevent any carpal tunnel issues down the road. thank you.
Belyao, here is the extended video for the Hands. wrists and elbows. Available on our site: http://www.yogatuneup.com/products/online-quickfix-videos
Thanks for the info. Just tried it. WIsh there was a video for this.
For nearly a year I was forced into ambidexterity (and out of the yoga studio!) when I was diagnosed with De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. This is a great reminder to continue that practice even though I have regained use of my dominant hand.
I also like holding the tune up balls and doing wrists circles. By holding something–the muscles in the forearm are activated and I find it makes the stretch a bit more dynamic.
I really liked the reference link that had the study by the Mayo clinic that showed people that do heavy computer, up to 7 hours a day did not increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome: I would think this would be a major cause….things that make you go HUMMM.