Theresa Murphy: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common injury, a situation that lots of people find themselves in; lots of keyboard work and lots of hand work can make the wrists, forearms and hand muscles really tight and constricted, and can cause pain.
The syndrome, actually, isn’t necessarily always isolated to the wrists; it can start from the neck and shoulder area, if someone has a bad posture, say, or they’re constantly in this position. Whether they’re holding a baby, or working over a countertop or a keyboard, the shortening in the collar bones and the chest, and overrounding the upper back, can create impingement and pressure underneath the collar bones, then compressing the nerves and the line of muscles that go down to the hands. So, while today we are going to work on opening up the hands and getting more mobility in the wrists, we’ll also look at all the other relationships with the shoulders and the neck area, and the upper back.
There is a band of tendons that wraps around the wrist; it’s called the retinaculum, and this band can get constricted and can cut off circulation and flow to the bones and muscles and tendons and veins of the hand and wrist, and it can actually cause some of the muscles in the hands to atrophy, particularly this guy, thenar muscle. When this starts to happen, it actually can affect circulation in the heart and in the lungs. So, there’s a lot of correlation between the palm of the hand and the upper chest; thumb and index finger relating to lung health, pinky finger relating to heart health, if you look at Chinese medicine.
In many traditions, the hands are like a vortex, or the palm of the hand like an eye – open hands means an open heart. So, having flexibility, mobility, and spaciousness in the hands, through the wrists, all the way to the arms, shoulders and neck not only is good health for your circulation of your blood and your lymph, keeping you well, but it’s also good energetically, in being able to have full, open self-expression. A lot of the actions and poses we did focused specifically on the hands through the arms, opening the chest, and being mindful that it’s not just a problem in the wrist. So having a holistic approach, using some yoga props (or, if you don’t have any yoga props, a few basic household items) to help support you in opening not only the hands, but the chest, neck and shoulders.