Whether you have struggled with carpel tunnel syndrome or neck/shoulder tension, you know: It can be a major barrier to day-to-day life.
From lack of quality sleep to pain, numbness and plain ol’ misery, the effects of imbalance in the neck, shoulders and arms can be frustrating at best and debilitating at worst.
Right now, some pain and minor debilitation is creeping back into my life. I want to share my process for relieving my carpool tunnel symptoms through yoga and what I’ve come to call movement restoration.
Hopefully, at the least, my story will give you some tools for managing your own symptoms and maybe help you on your path of long term management.
As always, make sure to listen to your body and the advice or recommendations of your Physical Therapist or other specialist.
So, here we go!
1. Stop the bleeding. Not literally of course, I mean stop doing the activity that is causing a flare up. If it’s your job that’s causing, seek options. Take a couple of long weekends in a row to have a longer rest time, or take more stretching/movement breaks at work. If symptoms are brought on by repetitive tasks, then we need to break the cycle.
In my case, it’s a combination of job and play. I will plan to back off of play activities and practice better self-care at work.
2. Open up. Stretching the palm, lower arm and front of the shoulder start “opens up” constricted fascia and promotes better blood flow and prana.
Postures I like for this are: Cat-cow, child’s pose (with open palms, pictured), star (try working your way to “spider man” wrists), and restorative bound angle.
Important: weight-bearing on the hands should feel good. If you are experiencing loss of sensation or pain in the wrists with palms on the floor, the issue may be with your alignment. Try performing at a wall until you can seek guidance on correct alignment.
3. Breathe. Practices that focus attention, activate the parasympathetic nervous system and open up construction have been key to my recoveries time and time again. Living with Carpel tunnel is not a one-and-done thing; it’s a lifetime of management and learning. To start, sit in a quiet place and begin to count your in-breath and out-breath. See if you can gradually get them equal to the count of four. Gradually, try to lengthen the short pause between those breaths, and maybe also make the pauses equal to that count of four. This is called the 4-Square breath, or in yoga: Sama vritti. Do this for a few minutes, and don’t struggle. There is no wrong way, so don’t worry about whether you’re “doing it right.”
As you breath, create an image in your mind of untangling a complex web or smoothing a sheet. Each breath untangles or smoothes the rough areas in your body.
4. Just move. I’m pretty sure the saying comes from physical therapy, but it’s oh so true: Motion is lotion for our joints. Move around, especially if you tend to be locked into a certain position most of the day. (I’m looking at you fellow desk jockeys.) Dance, do tai chi or some really ‘flowy’ yoga, swim, or find some other gentle, body weight fluid movement that works for you. Move each joint in all its natural directions, from the tips of your fingers to your toes. The body is connected by amazing, interconnected webs of facia. Loosening one thread may well relax the whole web.
Somatic exercises and somatic yoga are my go-to for this. I’ve had amazing results, and so have my clients. I also like tai chi for this! I went to a few classes a while back, but now I just make up my own stuff. It’s probably not really Tai chi, but it feels great!
Drop a comment and tell me what works for you!