I signed up for a 30-day yoga challenge this year. It is free, and for me, the challenge is to show up on the mat even on days when I’ve done Pilates or gone for a long walk. Too often I think “Oh, I’ve done enough” (and probably I have on class days!), but I want to push myself to see that I’m capable of more. It’s also been a nice thing to have at home on all these cold, snowy days.
I used to practice yoga a lot, but I haven’t in quite a few years. One thing I forgot is just how much time is spent on hands and forearms, either in plank, down dog, or hands & knees, and I’ve been feeling it. My hand and upper body strength isn’t great, and I often get very tight in my right forearm thanks to using a mouse for all my computer work. This has always been a problem for me, but I thought that’s just the way my arm and wrist were.
But this isn’t just a problem for those of us who sit at a computer all day. Check out the difference in flexibility in Mandy’s wrists.
The truth is, we ALL need to work on these hidden muscles. Any time we get onto our hands, we are putting a lot of stress on the muscles, tendons, and fascia or the wrists and forearms. What to do? Mandy mentioned to me about forearm twists and rotator cuff work. Ok great, though those seem like two completely different parts of the body to me.
However, today I realized that my pectoral (right at the front of my armpit) hurts, and so does the outside of my elbow and wrist. And then I looked up fascia arm lines. Low and behold, they’re connected! There are 4 fascial lines in the arms: superficial and deep lines along both the front and back of the arm.
What does this mean? That fascial tissue connects all the muscles in these lines. So an injury or tightness in one part can lead to pain in another part of the line. AND? We can do exercises and release work to help it all feel better.
I never really considered that there were exercises I could do for it! You may have noticed that our Pilates in Holland teachers are incorporating more of this into their teaching. All that twisting on discs, hand strengthening on the Bodhi, and rolling out the feet and back of the arm, that’s all part of the master plan. They have been learning from Carrie Miller who focuses on fascia and Pilates. It’s been a way of connecting the minds and bodies of our PIH clients in new ways. We want to help you learn about all the connections in your body to take the best care of yourself possible.
As I’ve been more of this work, I am experiencing less tightness and pain…a welcome relief. It makes for a more easeful yoga practice, which makes me much more likely to continue. It’s also obvious in my Pilates work and in things like opening a tight jar when I’m making dinner. I hope you find some of these helpful too. It’s like magic!
Forearm pronation & supination
Keep your hand evenly spread on a solid surface such as the floor, a desk, counter, or table. Have the inside of your elbows face each other then forward without moving your hands. Repeat 10-12 times.
Lying on your side, keep your elbow pressed into your side and lift and lower your forearm. This can be done without a weight or with a 3-5 pound weight, or even with a can of soup. Remember to engage your shoulder blades as well as your arm.
Place your hands on a coffee table or the arm of a study sofa. Use your core to jump up, looking at your belly as you go up. This is a great exercise for your wrists and core, and adds a little cardio to your day!
Regular pushups can often be too much for your wrists. This alternative takes some of the pressure off of the wrists while still strengthening them. The trick is to bend backward, not straight up and down. The first part of this shows the motion in an exaggerated way, but try to keep your hips and butt from going so far back as in the second half of the clip. You can pretend you are up against a wall.
Roll out back of deltoid (which wrap around to the back of the arm) and pectoral