In this digital age of laptops, iPads, smart phones, and gaming devices, our hands, particularly our wrists, get used (and frequently abused). Typing, texting, and taking out the enemy all take a toll on our hands.
“Carpal tunnel syndrome is perhaps the most common nerve disorder experienced today; and while it is usually very treatable, that doesn’t lessen the fact that it affects the lives of 4-10 million Americans,” notes rmhealthy.com. “Musculoskeletal disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome, are among the most prevalent medical conditions in the U.S., affecting 7% of the population; account for 14% of physician visits and 19% of hospital stays.”
That numbness and tingling in your hands may be carpal tunnel, caused by a compressed nerve in the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist. That compression often develops as a result of repetitive motion like typing, texting, and taking out the enemy. “Symptoms of CTS include tingling and numbness in the thumb, index and middle finger (median nerve distribution); burning, pain, and weakness in the fingers and hand; aching in the forearm that can radiate to the shoulder; and clumsiness or a weak grip. The numbness may become constant over time,” says Ram Rao, Ph.D in yogauonline.com.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Anything that squeezes or irritates the median nerve in the carpal tunnel space may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. A wrist fracture can narrow the carpal tunnel and irritate the nerve, as can the swelling and inflammation resulting from rheumatoid arthritis.”
Quite a lot of yoga is done on the wrists so any evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome can make some yoga positions uncomfortable if not very difficult. Planks, downward dog, and handstand among other yoga positions require strong and healthy wrists to hold the positions properly.
A study led by Dr. Marian Garfinkel, a senior Iyengar yoga teacher with over 30 years of experience, evaluated “whether a program of yoga and relaxation techniques might offer an effective treatment alternative for patients with CTS. Yoga was proposed to be helpful because stretching may relieve compression in the carpal tunnel, better joint posture may decrease intermittent compression, and blood flow may be improved to decrease ischemic effects on the median nerve.”
The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and summarized in the Ram Rao article mentioned above, reported, “After eight weeks, when the groups were tested to gauge the intensity of carpal tunnel syndrome, the group that practiced the yoga postures saw significant improvements in pain and grip strength, giving credence to the practice of yoga asanas in facilitating wrist healing and rejuvenation. Since CTS aggravates primarily with improper alignment, yoga asanas can prevent CTS by counteracting the repetitive movements that created the misalignments.” The yoga group in the study practiced 11 yoga postures twice weekly for eight weeks.
In addition to practicing yoga to help counteract and prevent CTS, other strategies can help keep CTS at bay.
The Mayo Clinic suggests the following:
☼ Reduce your force and relax your grip.
☼ Take frequent breaks.
☼ Watch your form. Avoid bending your wrist all the way up or down.
☼ Improve your posture.
☼ Change your computer mouse.
☼ Keep your hands warm.
We would like to show you specific yoga poses to help you have strong and healthy wrists! Whether you think you may have symptoms of carpal tunnel or you’d just like to feel more comfortable in the poses that use the wrists, we can help.
What questions do you have about yoga for healthy wrists? Email us at Info@SunriseYoga.net.