How Yoga Healed My Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
I started practicing yoga over 11 years ago as a travelling technology consultant who was subjected to a hectic, stressful and irregular schedule.
It enabled me to find balance, relaxation and confidence to address my very demanding work.. During my professional career, I had been confronted with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) a couple of times and I started to practice under the guidance of some fellow senior yoga teachers to develop a way to create relief and build strength. CTS is caused by compression of the median nerve in the wrist and is often the result of repetitive movements and non-optimal working conditions. As a road warrior I don’t always have the luxury to create a comfortable working environment and every minute of professional down time is one too many. This means many of the traditional approaches to handling CTS (including braces, splits, corticosteroid injections and surgery) were solutions I hoped to avoid.
Since using targeted exercises aimed at prevention I haven’t suffered from CTS. Teaching these exercises to many people over the years demonstrated how yoga could be a very powerful way to allow your body to recover from CTS and to prevent it from happening again.
To increase the range of extension on your wrists, I teach the following postures to my Beginning Students and Private Clients
Start on all fours, bringing the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips. Close your eyes. Imagine your spine as a straight line connecting the shoulders to the hips.Visualize the line extending forward through the crown of the head and backwards through the tail bone. Keep the neck the natural extension of the spine.
On the inhale: Curl toes under. Drop your belly. Gaze up toward the ceiling. Allow the movement in the spine to being from the tailbone, neck is the last part to move.
On the exhale: Release the tops of the feet to the floor. Round the spine like an angry cat. Release the head down. Gaze gently to the navel.
Repeat the Cat-Cow Stretch on each inhale and exhale, matching each movement to your own breath.
Namaskarasana (Prayer Position): Bring your hands-palms together in Namaste (Prayer Position) in front of your chest. Keep heels of your hands together. Keep fingers pointing up
Gently press hands down toward your waist. Keep heels of hands together, do not let them come apart; if you do, you'll lose the wrist stretch. Hold stretch for a minute or two while focusing on your breath
As your yoga practice continues, you will gradually be able to move the wrists into deeper extension.
The postures / warm-up exercises noted above will bring awareness to your own personal level of extension in your wrists by placing the heels of your hands directly below your shoulders. It is important to realize that a set of exercises and their execution can and should be adjusted according to one’s individual needs, wishes and body type. Exercising 2 to 3 times a week should be enough to yield results within two months.
Furthermore, while these exercises are easy to learn and accessible to everyone its always recommended to make use of professional training and advice for those not familiar with yoga, even if it’s for just a couple of classes. Yoga is not only about doing the right exercises, it is also about relaxation and obtaining the right mental state. Find a place where you feel at home and where you feel safe to be vulnerable. Ask around in your yoga community about the local possibilities and don’t feel afraid to shop around; nothing is more important than feeling comfortable.
It’s always very important to listen to your body and have respect for the signals it’s giving to you. Pain and physical discomfort is your body telling you that there’s something wrong and that you want to pay attention as it could be indicating a more serious problem. Have compassion, simply to listen to your body and adjust your exercises accordingly. Your body will thank you down the road.