Hand and Wrist Health

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The pantheon of yoga poses is heavy on hand and wrist use, but curiously light on hand and wrist poses.

You may have seen the position where you step on your palms as a means of stretching your wrists. It looks like this:

While better than nothing (think of the amount of time spent in downward dogs and other wrist-intensive poses in the course of a single yoga session), it’s not as promoting of hand happiness as is this approach.

If you’re practicing yoga, you should already have all the equipment you need to release residual tension in the hands: a yoga mat.

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1. Roll up your yoga mat tightly (the smaller the hole in the center, the better the yoga mat rolls on your hands in this practice), kneel, and spread your left hand on the floor.

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2. Place your rolled-up mat atop the left palm.

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3. Now bend your left elbow a little and put your entire upper body weight on your right hand. You want to flatten your left palm onto the floor with the weight you’re applying on the mat.

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4. Roll the mat back and forth with all your upper body weight on it. In other words, don’t massage the left hand here with the weight of the mat (it’s too light to have any effect); massage it by rolling the mat with the weight of your upper body. Again, remember to keep your left elbow bent so the left hand doesn’t hold up your upper body: all the upper body weight should go to your right hand.

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5. Do this for about 20 seconds, breathing fully, and then repeat on your right hand.

Benefits: Stimulates the connective tissue in the hands: once you stop the massage, the connective tissue “bounces” back and absorbs more fluid. Releases hand tension in a gentle and effortless way. Easy enough to do anywhere and without any preparation. Good for before and after doing hand- or wrist-intensive yoga poses.

Avoid if: If this practice is enough to create pain in your hands or wrists, I highly recommend that you seek out a physical therapist with experience in working with the hands and wrists, whether it’s because of arthritis, inflammation, or any other issue. You don’t want to let this go untreated or at the very least fail to diagnose what’s causing the pain, whether it’s repetitive motion injury, toxins accumulated in the joints, an incorrect position of your hands when typing or playing the piano for hours. In my Visual Yoga Blog I have other wrist-stretch poses, but this is the more effective one… and if it hurts, it’s time to have someone help you with it.

Final Thoughts: The improvement on the health of your hands isn’t so you get a better grip on your bottle of beer after yoga. But if it is, at least bring your rolled-up yoga mat to the pub to show everybody. It’ll make you seem like you have something fascinating to talk about.

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