By Faye Martins
Are there any modified Yoga poses for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? The short answer is: Yes. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is characterized by pain and stiffness in the elbows, lower arms, wrists, and fingers. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a repetitive stress injury often caused by too much time on the computer or doing a similar task.
Where does it Come From?
Nerve compression starting in the neck and going down through the wrists and hands, is the primary cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Several Yoga poses help to relieve nerve and joint compression, thereby relieving pain and increasing flexibility.
Cures and Snake Oil
We read about different “cures” for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that might work in days or weeks. Sometimes, Yoga asanas are praised as cure-alls for ailments and diseases. I’d love to jump on the bandwagon, but our bodies respond differently to medicines and exercises. Downward Facing Dog is sometimes given as a cure.
Seriously? Unless Downward Facing Dog is modified, it will only cause pain flare-ups for those suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Think about it: Does more pain seem to be a cure? The more pain you push through, the worse you feel, no matter how tough you are. Modified Yoga poses for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are pain-free and help relieve pain.
Modified Version of Downward Facing Dog with a Chair
Downward Facing Dog stretches the front side of the chest, arms, and shoulders. This pose also relieves tension in the upper back and hamstrings. When performed properly, Downward Facing Dog helps to re-align the neck and elongate the spine, which helps to relieve radiating nerve compression in the forearms, wrists, and hands.
Place a chair in front of the head of your Yoga mat. Start by standing in Tadasana at the top of your Yoga mat. Slowly bend at the hips and fold forward while letting your hands lightly rest on the upper backrest or seat. Step your feet three to four feet back. Your body will make an inverted “V” shape when you step your feet back and place your hands shoulder-distance apart on the chair in front of you. Your feet should be a little more than hip-distance apart. Take several deep, slow breaths as you sink into the pose and feel the stretch in your chest, arms, shoulders, neck, upper back, and hamstrings. Repeat the pose two more times. Between each repetition, you may want to counterpose with a standing backbend.
Kneeling Prayer Stretch or Pose with a Bench, Roller, or Blocks
Like Downward Dog, you can modify this posture to work around the pain for maximum benefits. Prayer Pose is aptly named because it resembles praying to the Divine. Prayer Pose stretches and elongates the cervical spine, triceps, lateral torso, and shoulders, relieving nerve compression that often causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
To practice Prayer Pose, you will need two Yoga blocks or a bench. Place the blocks a few inches in front of you at the front end of your Yoga mat while kneeling in the center of your mat. The blocks should be placed on the long side about shoulder distance apart. While on your knees, place your elbows on the blocks with your fingers interlaced and your hands pointing toward the sky. With your spine extended, breathe in and melt into the pose as you exhale. Go to your edge, where you feel a good stretch without pain. Hold this posture for three to five breaths. Repeat two times and then counter pose in Camel or rest in Balasana.
Hands-Free Yoga Sequences
If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, yoga can be a great way to ease your symptoms and improve your range of motion. Hands-free yoga sequences can be particularly helpful, as they allow you to focus on other parts of your body and give your wrists a rest. Yoga can help stretch and strengthen the muscles around the wrist and forearm, which can help to take the pressure off the median nerve.
Additionally, the deep breathing that is often used in yoga can help to relax the mind and body, which can, in turn, reduce pain and inflammation. There are many different hands-free yoga sequences that you can try, depending on your level of experience and comfort. There are streaming videos and creative sequences if you need help with modified Yoga poses for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
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