office yoga certificationBy Gopi Rao, CYT 500

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? The carpal tunnel is a narrow channel in the wrist, which encases tendons, bones, and the median nerve. When inflammation or injury – such as repetitive use – causes tendons to swell, the median nerve is compressed. Pressure on the nerve results in numbness, tingling, or pain in the hand, wrist, and arm. Although this is not a new condition, it has become more common as both children and adults spend increased hours slumped over computers and videos games.

Can Yoga Reduce the Pain of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

According to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who participated in a regular regimen of Yoga for two months were able to lessen the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome when compared to those who did not do Yoga. The exercises used in the study concentrated on specific poses: opening, stretching, and strengthening the upper body.

There are, however, a few precautions:

• Always check with a medical professional before undertaking a new exercise routine.

• Avoid poses that strain or place weight on the hands or wrists. With the help of a competent Yoga teacher, Arm Balances, Downward Facing Dog or Plank Poses can be modified for less or no pain.  Beware of Yoga teachers who cannot modify postures if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

• Remember that Yoga, while helpful, is not a cure for carpel tunnel syndrome.

Which Yoga Poses Alleviate Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

• Mountain Pose with emphasis on stretching the wrists, hands, and forearms.

• Modified Supported Bridge Pose or Backbends (such as Camel) that stretch the wrists and do not place weight on the wrists

• Wrist Stretches and figure eights with the wrist

• Cow Face Pose because it opens and stretches the shoulders, arms, forearms and tendons.

Can Yoga Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Although there are no definitive answers when it comes to preventing or treating carpal tunnel syndrome, there are several simple steps that may alleviate the wear and tear of repetitive injuries to the body.

Many of these steps or habits can be easily incorporated into brief breaks during the work day and fall into the following categories:

• Full body stretches

• Seated twists

• Neck and shoulder stretches or shrugs

• Stretching wrists and fingers

• Shaking off tension

• Massaging the hands and fingers

• Maintaining good posture and taking frequent breaks

Not only will these steps help reduce pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, but they will also improve general well-being by increasing circulation, boosting alertness, and eliminating muscle tension in the entire body.  Yoga for carpal tunnel syndrome is well worth the effort.

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