Yoga for your Wrists – Part 1

Wrists

Reblogging here, Top 3 from Part 1, so you have all the stretches in one place.

1. Tadasana Wrists 

Set Up:

Stand in Tadasana, Mountain Pose. Soften your shoulders down your back, releasing any tension in your neck. Keep the back of your neck long. Draw your armpits down towards your hips, engaging your lower tummy, spine in neutral alignment. Raise your arms forwards to shoulder height. Arms straight, extend your wrists, so that palms face forwards, fingers point up to the ceiling. Push out into the base of your thumbs. Spread your fingers wide apart and draw your baby fingers back towards you.

Move:

5-exercises-at-work-wrist stretches

1. With your left hand, draw your right hand’s thumb back, and release. Repeat on the index finger and all the other fingers, one at a time. Then, draw all the fingers back together, except the thumb. Play with the stretch and see what feels good for you. Repeat on the opposite hand.

wrist stretches tadasana

2. Turn your palms outwards, 90 degrees clockwise. Press into the base of your thumbs. Turn your palms outwards another 90 degrees so that your fingers point to the floor.

3. Challenge: Stand with your feet together. Bend your knees, into a skiing position and contract your lower tummy. From here, keeping your arms straight (elbows facing forward), lower them until your fingertips touch your thighs, palms face the floor.

4. Repeat in Hero Pose:

Wrist stretch fingers on thighs

2. Wrists on the wall

Let’s use the wall for feedback. Repeat Stretch #1 standing at arms distance in front of a wall.

Set Up:

Press the heel of your palms into the wall, fingers pointing up to the ceiling, keeping your elbows straight as you perform the movements.

wrist stretch on wall

Move:

1. Turn your palms outwards, 90 degrees clockwise. Press into the base of your thumbs.

2. Turn your palms another 90 degrees so that your fingers point to the floor.

3. Turn your palms inwards so that the fingers face each other.

4. Walk the palms in and down towards the floor. Only go as far as is comfortable. You want to feel a challenge but no pain.

3. Wrists on the mat

Set Up:

Come onto all fours in Table Top on your mat. Knees parallel, hip-distance apart, tops of the feet are on the mat, heels in line with your knees. Place your palms on the floor, shoulder-width apart, middle finger in line with your shoulders.

Check that your hands are a little ahead of your shoulders, the farther forward your hands are, the less pressure that will be on the wrists, so move your hands forward and back until you find the distance that is right for you.

Spread out into the fingers, middle fingers point to the top of your mat. Spread the weight evenly into all fingers, and from the inner to the outer edges of your wrists.

If you have had an injury such as RSI or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, only practice this move after swelling has reduced, making sure that there is no inflammation present and that you are happy to bear weight on the wrists. If you feel any pain, come off the mat and stay with the standing stretches.

Move:

a. Wrist Extension: 

Turn your hands inwards 90 degrees, fingers face each other.Turn your hands inwards another 90 degrees towards you (try one at a time at first), fingers face your knees.

Pretend to sit back onto your heels and press into the base of your thumbs, keeping your elbows straight. Feel that stretch?!

Then, move your upper body forward so your shoulders are in front of your wrists. Feel the inner edge of your wrist on the mat.

Come back to Table Top and turn your palms forward so fingers face the top of your mat again.

Turn your palms outwards 90 degrees, fingers face the sides of your mat. Turn your palms outwards another 90 degrees, fingers face your knees.

Wrist Stretch fingers to kneesSit back towards your heels and feel the stretch down the front of your arms as you extend your wrists. Move forward until your shoulder go beyond your wrists. Come back to Table Top.

Only go as far as is comfortable. You want to feel a stretch but no pain.

b. Wrist Flexion:

Wrist Stretch Table Top

Turn your palms facing up, so the backs of your hands are on the mat. Try it one at a time first, then both together. Fingers face forward towards the top of your mat.

From here, turn your palms inwards, 90 degrees anti-clockwise; fingers face each other. Turn them inwards another 90 degrees anti-clockwise, fingers face your knees. Feel the weight equally across from your baby finger to your thumb. Turn them another 90 degrees anti-clockwise, fingers face the edges of your mat.

Challenge: Move your upper body forward and back, feel the weight and stretch along your wrists as you press evenly into your baby fingers and your thumbs.

In Yoga & Pilates:

Every time your hands are on the mat, make sure your thumbs and index fingers are superglued to the floor, feel the base of the thumb and index finger on the mat. Press the pad of the tim down so you feel how the inner edge of your wrist is connected with the mat.

Pads of your palms press into the mat, hollow the middle of your palms up away from the floor. Spread your fingers out wide, away from each other. Middle fingers point to the top of the mat.

Look at your arms. You want the elbow creases to face  each other, rather than to the top of the mat. Then, draw your arms back up to your shoulders, plug the top of your arms into the Shoulder socket and slide your shoulder blades down to your back pockets.

Next time you’re in Table Top, Downward Dog, any arm balance…look at your thumbs and your index fingers, and ask, are they superglued to the floor?

Daily life: 

Notice how you use your wrists.

In the office: When using your computer, notice are your hands extended straight from your lower arms or do you bend at the wrists? Are you sitting tall, aware of your core when typing, or are you slumped in your seat, shoulders hunched, with your head 2 inches forward of your spine? For 5 days a week?!Yoga for your Spine

Try drawing your ears back so they are in line over your shoulders and relax your arms down by your sides. Then bend your elbows, hands forward, so that as you type, your palm base & wrists rest on the “WRIST REST”! (…ahhh, so that’s what that foam pad in front of my keyboard is for…) As you type, keep your elbows tucked in by your waist, broaden across your upper back, shoulder blades softening down to your back pockets. Allow your fingers to do the typing, keeping the wrists straight.

It’s amazing how something as simple as switching on your lower tummy muscles affects how you use your shoulders, and arms, all the way down into your wrists. Notice when driving, are you slumped in the seat, sitting back on your tailbone, or hunched over, clenching the wheel with your wrists super-flexed and knuckles white? Relax those shoulders and drive from your tummy button, not your wrists. Check out the straight wrists on this puppy. (Aww.)

Driving-to-puppy-park-l

If you cycle to work, notice how you cycle. Release this tense fingers gripping onto the handlebars! Actively lengthen the front of your body, engage your lower tummy and release your shoulders. Feel how your neck lengthens when you draw your arms back to your shoulder sockets and slide your shoulder blades down to your back pockets. Try to keep your wrists straight, in line with your lower arms, so your fingers hold the handle bars with ease, and you cycle from your centre, using your core muscles. Notice when you feel tension in the wrists. (White van driver cutting a left into your lane anyone?!) With the speed and alertness that commuter cycling requires, it’s no wonder we arrive at work with hunched shoulders and white knuckles! Take each red traffic light as a moment to allow your shoulders to soften, release your grip on the handlebars, and straighten your wrists. And in no time at all you’ll look like this guy:bike_to_work

He does look happy.

Try to attend a movement class, whether it’s Pilates, Yoga, or Somatics, at least once a week. One that focuses on safe alignment, tone and releasing tension, will help your wrists.

I didn’t even mention playing piano. Cat

Try the wrist stretches. Let me know how you get on. Remember, practice makes purrrfect. Sorry. (You can subscribe to Nora the Paino Cat on Youtube!)

Love your body, it can do amazing things.

Enjoy 😉

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It’s all in the wrists

wrist stretch on wallWhether you’ve been doing cartwheels (please teach me how!) or typing all day, take the pressure off your wrists and lower arms with these 5 quick and easy stretches.

1. Neck & Shoulder Release

Tension in the neck and shoulders leads to tension in the arms and hands. So we’ll start here. Stretching your neck and shoulders every day, not only helps your upper limbs, but also improves circulation to your Brain. Lymph node drainage, thyroid function, and even your vocal cords benefit from supple flexible muscles in this area.

Method:

Allow your right ear to release down onto your right shoulder, taking at least a minute for allowing the ear to rest down towards the shoulder.Repeat on the left hand side. Yes the ear should touch the shoulder. Please send me a photo when this happens!

Next, bring your chin down onto your chest. Keep the back of the next long and imagine you’re holding a soft peach under your chin.

Lift your chin up to the sky, imagine you’re holding the soft peach behind your neck. Allow the front of your throat to soften and your shoulders to release. Take a few breaths here, then slowly lower your chin back to centre and draw your ears back over your shoulders. Lengthen up  through the crown of your head to the sky.

From here, bring your chin down onto your chest, roll it very slowly over to your right shoulder, back to centre, then over to your left shoulder. Do this a few times, moving with internal awareness, one millimetre at a time…slowly!

2. Flex your Prayer Pose:

Bring your palms together in Prayer Position in front of your heart.

Method:

Turn the backs of your palms around to rest against each other. Line up the backs of each finger and the back of the thumbs.

Anybody remember the rhyme: “Here is the Church, here is the steeple, look inside and see all the people” No, just me?!

Namaste back of palms facing

Draw the forearms down until your elbows bend at 90 degrees. Like Katy’s….

Katy Bowman Church Palms

Hmm…Don’t worry if this doesn’t come naturally!

Allow the sides of your neck to release, all the way down to the wrists, and out into the thumbs. The more often you do this stretch, the easier it will become.

3. Opposable Thumbs

“Opposable” means that the joint of the thumb allows the tip of the thumb to touch the tip of each finger on the same hand. It’s the only finger that can do that!

Method:

For fun, see if you can get your baby finger to touch each other finger on the same hand, one at a time. It won’t be on the tip, but try to make contact even on the side. Then try to get your ring finger, then your index finger to touch all other fingers one at a time. How easy or difficult it is to do it depends on the tension in your hands, forearms or even neck. Give it a try and remember to do both hands!

4. Bringing Namaste back

As I mentioned, tension in your shoulders can affect your arms and hands. This stretch helps to identify tight spots in your upper back and shoulders, and how to release them:

Method:

Back of hand on backStep 1: Reach your right arm behind you, bending your right elbow and place the back of your hand on your mid-back. Keep the arm straight across and hold here for one minute. Your lower arm will be horizontal, parallel to the floor.

Palm on back vertical

Step 2: Now, try to bring it vertical, so the hand travels towards the back of your neck and your elbow releases down towards the right hip. Try not to arch your back, keeping your pelvis and spine in a neutral Tadasana, standing position.

Palm on back

Step 3: Lower the arm back to it’s horizontal position (Step 1). Then flip your palm, so it rests against your back. Draw the arm up to vertical once more, keeping the palm facing onto the back and the shoulder blades drawing down your back.If the Shoulder Blade is winging a lot, i.e the bony edge of the shoulder blade is poking out of the skin, bring your elbow forward towards your front. Repeat Steps 1-3 on the left arm.

Paschima Namasarasana

Finally, reach both arms behind you and bring the backs of the hands facing each other, lowering the forearms until the elbows bend at 90 degrees.

Then, flip the palms, so that they face together in Reverse Prayer Pose (Pashchima Namaskarasana) behind your back.

See more on Pashchima Namaskarasana here.

 

5. Yoga for Wrist Strength: Read Part 1  here.

Wrist stretch fingers on thighs

Daily Life: Whole Body Movement

When moving your limbs in a pushing or pulling motion, remember that your strength and energy comes from the centre of your body, and travels outwards from here to the extremities.

Whether playing tennis, pushing a buggy, or reaching for the water cooler, try to move from your centre. Whole body movement brings strength to the muscle and takes stress off your joints.

The next time you’re raising your arm to reach out, visualise the movement coming from your tummy button out into your arms, extending down through the fingertips, and reach beyond, so you bring strength in your actions through from your core. Whatever you’re reaching for, always try to move from your centre. This is Whole Body Movement.

YouTube loves your wrists

Wrist Stretches: from http://www.smartstretch.com

Carpal Tunnel SyndromeI prefer an empty glass to a bucket of sand 😉

 

If you have any questions on wrist stretches or on the sequences we do in class, please leave a comment. If you try the stretches & they work, please click ‘like’! Your feedback is appreciated.

Enjoy 😉

(Revolved) Namaste

 

Sources and credits:

Katy Bowman, Alignment Matters. ISBN: 978-0-9896539-0-9

http://www.yogaartandscience.com

http://www.smartstretch.com

Lee Hayward

Pain and Pleasure…Carpal Tunnel Syndrome & Chocolate-chip Cookies

When pregnant or breast-feeding, some mums may experience fluid retention, or Oedema. This can cause pain and swelling around the ankles or wrists. Some may even be diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Postnatally, some mums may continue to experience wrist pain on a level similar to arthritis or Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). All this AND sleep deprivation? You gotta be kidding!

Recently in Mum & Baby Yoga one of our Mums demonstrated a wrist exercise she learnt from a vineyard owner, for relieving RSI in their grape-pickers’ wrists. I’ll attempt to repeat it here. Reply with a comment if you need a photo!

Method: Hold a drum stick at arms length, hands at either end. Rotate it forward and back. Roll your wrists inwards, around and out again, without releasing the stick. (If you’re not a rockstar and don’t have a drum stick to hand, try a long wooden spoon, light rolling pin, ruler… you get the idea!)

If you have ongoing wrist pain, see your GP for a proper diagnosis.

For RSI or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it may be necessary to wear a wrist splint. This keeps your wrists straight, i.e. in line with your arms, so that you flex and move your fingers to perform repetitive actions such as typing, pushing a pram etc, instead of continually flexing at the wrists.

Thankfully there are many wrist stretches you can do, and safe alignment guides in yoga, to significantly improve your grip. See my top 5 below. Enjoy and most importantly, let me know how you get on!

1. In your practice:

In Pilates, and Yoga postures, every time your hands are on the mat, make sure your thumbs and index fingers are superglued to the floor, so that you can really feel the inner edge of your wrist is connected with the mat.

Check that the pads of your palms are pressing into the mat, hollow the middle of your palms up away from the floor. Spread your fingers out wide away from each other. Middle fingers face towards the top of the mat. Reach out into your baby fingers, really reach beyond, and feel your baby fingers pressing into the floor. Feel how the outside edge of your wrist is on the mat.

Look at your arms and notice are the elbow creases facing each other. Draw your arms back up to your shoulders and slide your shoulder blades down your back.

Next time you’re in Table Top or Downward Dog, any arm balance…look at your thumbs and your index fingers, and ask, are they superglued to the floor?

2. Day to Day 

Notice how you use your wrists.

In the office: When using your computer, notice are your hands extended straight from your lower arms or do you bend at the wrists? Are you sitting tall, aware your core when typing, or are you slumped in your seat, with your head 2 inches forward of your spine? Try drawing your ears back so they are in line over your shoulders and relax your arms down by your sides. Then bend your elbows, hands forward, so that as you type, your palm base & wrists rest on the “WRIST REST”! (foam thingy in front of your keyboard). As you type, keep your elbows tucked in to your waist. Watch how it’s your fingers that flex as you type and your wrists stay straight.

It’s amazing how something as simple as switching on your lower tummy muscles affects how you use your shoulders, and arms, all the way down into your wrists. Notice when driving, are you slumped in the seat, sitting back on your tailbone, or hunched over, clenching the wheel with your wrists flexed and knuckles tight? Relax those shoulders and drive from your tummy button, not your wrists!

If you cycle to work, notice how you cycle. Got tense fingers gripping the handlebars? Actively lengthen the front of your body, engage your lower tummy and release your shoulders. Feel how your neck lengthens when you draw your arms back towards your shoulder sockets and slide your shoulder blades down your back. Notice can you keep your wrists straight in line with your lower arms, so your fingers hold the handle bars with ease, and you cycle from your core muscles, not your shoulders and wrists.

Pushing the pram? Lead with your lower tummy as you walk. With the safety belt on 😉 try pushing the pram with just your index fingers resting lightly on the handlebar. Adjust the height of the handlebar, so that when you hold it your hands are in line with your lower arms, wrists straight. As you walk, keep your tummy and pelvis aligned under your shoulders, so you walk and push the pram from your centre (rather than pushing with your upper body, while your lower body trails behind it, adversely loading tension into your shoulders, sacroiliac, low back, etc… migranes anyone?!). Push off with your feet (like ice-skating) and fully extend as you walk, using those lower body muscle groups to maneuver that double buggy, not your wrists! Remember, strong glutes = toned pelvic floor and happy lower back. But that’s a blog for another day.

3. YouTube: Your wrist’s best friend

There are so many clips, it’s easy to find a short 3 minute sequence you can do everyday.

Here are two you can do, even in the office at your desk:

Wrist Stretches: from http://www.smartstretch.com

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: I used an empty glass instead of bucket of sand, lightweight!

4. Yoga for Wrist Strength:

Set Up:

Stand in Tadasana, Mountain Pose. Soften your shoulders down your back, releasing any tension in your neck. Keep the back of your neck long. Draw your armpits down towards your hips, engaging your lower tummy, spine in neutral alignment. Raise your arms forwards to shoulder height. Arms straight, extend your wrists, so that palms face forwards, fingers point up to the ceiling. Push out into the base of your thumbs. Spread your fingers wide apart and draw your baby fingers back towards you.

Move:

1. Turn your palms outwards, 90 degrees clockwise. Press into the base of your thumbs.

2. Turn your palms another 90 degrees so that your fingers point to the floor.

Progess: Stand with your feet together. Bend your knees, into a skiing position and contract your lower tummy. From here, keeping your arms straight (elbows facing forward), lower them until your fingertips touch your thighs, palms face the floor.

Repeat in Hero Pose:

 Wrist stretch fingers on thighs

On the wall:

Repeat move #4 standing at arms distance in front of a wall. Press the heel of your palms into the wall, keeping your elbows straight as you perform the movements.

wrist stretch on wall

5. Weight-bearing:

Set Up:

Come onto your mat on all fours in Table Top. Knees parallel, hip-distance apart, tops of the feet on the mat, heels in line with your knees. Place your palms on the floor, shoulder-width apart, middle finger in line with your shoulders. Check that your hands are a little ahead of your shoulders, fingers facing the top of your mat. Spread the weight evenly into all fingers, and from the inner to the outer edges of your wrists. Only practice this move when swelling has reduced and you are happy to bear weight on the wrists. If there is ANY pain present, repeat moves 1-4 only.

Move:

Wrist Extension: Turn your hands inwards 90 degrees, fingers face each other.Turn your hands inwards another 90 degrees towards you (try one at a time at first), fingers face your knees. Pretend to sit back onto your heels and press into the base of your thumbs, keep your elbows straight. Move your upper body forward so your shoulders are in front of your wrists. Feel the inner edge of your wrist on the mat.

Come back to Table Top and turn your palms forward so fingers face the top of your mat again.

Turn your palms outwards 90 degrees, fingers face the sides of your mat. Turn your palms outwards another 90 degrees, fingers face your knees.

Sit back towards your heels and feel the stretch down the front of your arms as you extend your wrists. Move forward until your shoulder go beyond your wrists. Come back to Table Top.

Only go as far as is comfortable. You want to feel the stretch but no pain.

Wrist Flexion: Turn your palms facing up, try it one at a time at first. Backs of your hands are on the mat, fingers face forward towards the top of your mat.

From here, turn your palms inwards, 90 degrees anti-clockwise; fingers face each other.

Turn them inwards another 90 degrees anti-clockwise, fingers face your knees. Feel the weight equally across from your baby finger to your thumb. Turn them another 90 degrees anti-clockwise, fingers face the edges of your mat.

Challenge yourself: Move your upper body forward and back, feeling the weight and the stretch along your wrists as you press evenly into your baby fingers and your thumbs.

So there’s my top 5. Turned into a wrist health nerd and need more? See my next blog post on the phenomenal Katy Bowman’s guide to wrist health.

Need some energy after all that wrist action?!

almond flour chocolate chip cookies

Almonds and chocolate, my two favourite foods in the world, ever! Thanks to Goop for this amazing cookie recipe. I used 1/3rd of the amounts listed, and played around with the ingredients. Here’s the original recipe, followed by the one I made up.

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies
INGREDIENTS:
6 cups ALMOND FLOUR
2 cup chocolate CHIPS (slightly heaping)
2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened— make sure it is shredded and not ground or in flakes (slightly heaping)
2 teaspoons BAKING powder
4 tablespoons FLAX SEED meal
1 teaspoon salt
2.5 cups maple syrup
2/3 cup COCONUT OIL
4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons vanilla
chocolate chips, for the top
SHREDDED coconut, for the top

PREPARATION:
REFRIGERATE batter until chilled (optional). Add more coconut and chocolate chips to the top (push down slightly), and bake at 325°F for 8 minutes.

The “Whatever’s in the press kids screaming Irish housewife happy yogi” version:
INGREDIENTS
1 cup Oat flour
1 cup Ground Almonds
1/2 small bag of Dr Oetheke Chocolate Chips & 1/2 cup dried fruit mix
2/3 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons linseed mix cereal topping (from Lidl)
1 tablespoon Flaxseed mix cereal topping (Linwoods brand, from Supervalu)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup maple syrup (Incidentally = 1 bottle Tesco Maple Syrup)
1/4 cup coconut oil
No vanilla
No chocolate chips for top
No shredded coconut for top
PREPARATION:
REFRIGERATE batter for 0 minutes. Bake at 325°F for 12-15 minutes
Send some, along with kids and husband for 48 hours, to Grandparents who heartily approve!
Of the cookies.
Get a full night’s sleep.
Enjoy 😉
Sources & Credits:
Weight Bearing on the Wrists Sequence from Elma Toland, Yoga Therapy Ireland
Yoga for Wrist Strength Sequence from Zoe Knott, Yoga Instructor, UK
Wrist Stretch Video from Ardash Williams http://www.smartstretch.com
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Video from Lee Hayward BodyBuilder