My last blog was about toes, and this month I am focusing on hands. They are so important to our daily function, yet we don’t pay much attention to them until they begin to ache or develop arthritis.
During much of our day, we use many muscles that hold our hands parallel to our forearms, or in a flexed position. Most of the time when we write, use a computer keyboard, cook, drive, these muscles are tensed. And, the position of our hands and fingers is also not only angled toward a closed position, but also tends to be angled off to the side. For example, when holding a pen, a steering wheel, or a mouse, we usually will angle the wrist and fingers to the right (if right-handed.) This combination of repeated and unconscious tension in these muscles can lead to arthritis in the joints or repetitive use syndrome (like carpal tunnel syndrome) in which the muscles swell and pinch the nerves, causing damage and pain. Moving the joints in a counter-balancing position is important! Below are a few simple movements that can be added to your yoga routine (or done anytime throughout the day) that can help keep your fingers and wrists more supple.
One of my favorite stretches that I suggest everyone does before getting up from a computer to help release the tension in the hands and wrists, is the Reverse Namasté pose. Sitting up comfortably, place the backs of both hands together at chest level (or lower if you need to). Make sure your wrists are also touching, lowering your hands to accomplish this if necessary. Inhale, and as you exhale, gently lower your elbows without parting your wrists. Hold this position for 3 breaths and release. This will provide a lovely stretch for the tops of your wrists and hands. Immediately afterward, to balance out your wrists, do the Namasté pose by placing the palms of both hands together at chest level, making sure the heels of your hands are touching along with your palms. Inhale, and then on the exhalation, slowly lower the heels of your hands. Hold this for 3 breaths and slowly release. This pose will stretch the underside of your wrists. Both so simple to do, and such helpful poses!
Another exercise I do for the fingers is called “O’s”. Hold your hands about chest level, facing toward or away from you, inhale and bring the tips of your index fingers to the tips of your thumbs, shaping your thumb and finger into an “O”. Exhale and open your hands and fingers wide. Do not hyper-extend them by overdoing the stretch. Just be gentle and feel a widening space between each finger and an opening in the palms. Pay special attention to the thumbs. We often do not open this digit out to the side but tend to keep it forward while moving the thumb away from the index finger. Instead, try to bring the thumbs out to the side, making sure that these important thumb joints are getting lots of open movement. Next, as you inhale bring the tips of your middle fingers to the tips of your thumbs, and exhale as you release and open. Repeat the breath, O’s and widening release after each finger and repeat the entire series. This will relax your fingers and they will feel looser!
There are many more exercises and poses for the fingers and wrists, and I will talk about others in a future blog. I hope you will add these basic movements shown here to your daily routine and share them with your students, friends and family!
If you have any question or comments, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.