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

Use your other hand for your mouse to relieve wrist pain

Use your other hand for your mouse to relieve wrist pain

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.

Watch our hand and wrist exercise video on YouTube.

Jill Miller

Jill Miller, C-IAYT, ERYT is the co-founder of Tune Up Fitness Worldwide and creator of the self-care fitness formats Yoga Tune Up® and The Roll Model® Method. With more than 30 years of study in anatomy and movement, she is a pioneer in forging relevant links between the worlds of fitness, yoga, massage, athletics and pain management. She is known as the Teacher’s Teacher and has trained thousands of movement educators, clinicians, and manual therapists to incorporate her paradigm shifting self-care fitness programming into athletic and medical facility programs internationally. She has crafted original programs for 24 Hour Fitness, Equinox, YogaWorks, and numerous professional sports teams. She and her team of 500+ trainers help you to live better in your body with an emphasis on proprioception, mobility, breath mechanics and recovery. She has presented case studies at the Fascia Research Congress and International Association of Yoga Therapy conferences. She has the rare ability to translate complex physiological and biomechanical information into accessible, relevant moves that help her students transform pain, dysfunction and injury into robust fitness. Jill is the anatomy columnist for Yoga Journal Magazine and has been featured in Shape, Men’s Journal, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, Yoga Journal, Self, and on the Today Show and Good Morning America. Jill is regularly featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network. She is the creator of dozens of DVD’s including Treat While You Train with Kelly Starrett DPT and is the author of the internationally bestselling book The Roll Model: A Step by Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility and Live Better in your Body. Based in Los Angeles, CA, she is a wife and mother of two small children and is currently writing her second book.

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Paula

Prevention is key to maintaining wellness as we age. I am going to try these recommendations.

Suzanne O'Donnell

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

Keith

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.

Esco Wilson

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.

Caroline M

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.

Tracy Crooks

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 🙂

Dinneen

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… Read more »

Nicole Pamukov

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.

Jill Miller

Belyao, here is the extended video for the Hands. wrists and elbows. Available on our site: http://www.yogatuneup.com/products/online-quickfix-videos

beiyao zheng

Thanks for the info. Just tried it. WIsh there was a video for this.

Jaime S

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.

Julie

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.

Bonnie Zammarieh

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.