Happy Healthy Wrists
Wrist pain is often inflicted on new Mothers and new yogi’s.
Think repetitive weight on your hands in fundamental poses such as Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), and tired new Mumma who is suddenly picking up her baby, that gets heavier by the minute, consistently through day and night. Combine motherhood and yoga and you have the perfect storm.
Top that off with a career as a massage therapist and you have me after my first baby. I suffered lightning bolt pain that was frustratingly inconsistent, it would hit me with a very subtle wrist movement that would make me scream out at random and added a touch of crazy to my general dishevelled appearance.
From my heart to yours, here is everything I know for a long, happy, healthy wrist life. Maybe the fellas would like this one too? Especially during the new-born phase 😉
Reduce Inflammation naturally.
Before we can begin strengthening and increasing mobility, we often first need to reduce the inflammation that is sending our pain receptors into a frenzy. The healthiest approach to this is to eat beautiful, enriching and nourishing foods. Decrease or eliminate sugar, dairy, refined and processed foods because these increase inflammation in the body. And double your intake of fruits and vegetables as the micro-nutrition of these is proven to reduce inflammation, amongst many, many other life enhancing properties. Crowd out the bad with the good. It’s easy! I promise you. Here are some yummy, affordable recipes that you can introduce into your daily eats.
Carrot and Apple Granola!
Try substituting your morning cereal with this recipe, you can’t help feeling rather chuffed that you had carrot for breakfast! It’s also really sweet and yummy.
1 grated carrot
1 grated apple
¼ cup of coconut flakes
¼ cup of chopped walnuts
¼ cup of pumpkin seeds
1 Orange – juice of
1 tsp cinnamon
Coconut yoghurt or cream to top
Mix it all together and devour!
Smoothies are an ingenious way to pack more nutrition into your day, simply because of the amount of fruits and vegetables you can consume in one go.
A little tip is to prep in advance by chopping and freezing your fruit and greens. It’s so quick and easy this way and freezing doesn’t disturb the nutrients.
Here is a nice recipe to get you started.
1 cup of spinach
½ cup of fennel
½ cup of pineapple
Handful of fresh mint
1 cup of water or coconut water
Blend and enjoy
Afternoon pick me up
I drink a matcha every afternoon instead of coffee and it sustains my energy right through to the evening, even when my beautiful baby girl wakes me every hour. It’s high in caffeine but also contains a special compound called L-theanine which alters the effects of caffeine, promoting alertness and helping avoid the crash in energy that often follows a coffee.
It has a super high concentration of nutrients and antioxidants, and its health benefits are voiced by ancient and modern healers and nutritionists throughout the world.
Wiz up 1 tsp of matcha, 1 tsp of honey and your favourite nut milk to lift your vibration.
Toast made with Life Changing Bread.
This recipe is so quick and easy, I whip it up every week in 5mins. It transforms your staple food from empty calories to highly nutritious which is, as it says, life changing. (I will give you my recipe here which is a slightly bigger version)
2 cups oats
2 cups nuts/seeds
¾ cup of LSA
3 Tbls chia seeds
4 Tbls Phsyllium husk
1-2 Tbls of natural sugar (I use Molasses)
1 tsp of salt
2 and a bit cups of water
¼ cup of favourite oil (coconut or olive is good)
Combine dry ingredients, mix in wet ingredients quickly and then immediately press into a loaf tin. Let this sit for a few hours before baking at 180 degrees for an hour.
Yoga to strengthen the muscles that support the wrist.
Like any imbalance in the body, our modern world wrists suffer from chronic tension and weakness simultaneously. The backs of the forearms (the part we see when typing) are generally tight and hardened due to the way we hold our hands in so many daily activities such as chopping and preparing food, typing, writing and playing incy-wincy spider with your babies.
We use the underside of the forearm to push away with our hands and due to lack of this action we experience weakness here. If we ignore our hands in yoga, particularly in weight-bearing poses, then the area of tension is further compressed and often pinches at the joint, and the area of weakness (underneath) has a lot of pressure and lengthening shearing through already weak muscles as well as placing strain on the sensitive nerves and arteries that flow through here.
Yoga, if done properly, can be really good for the health of our wrists, hands and forearms, unfortunately the hands are often not focused on in classes, powerful bandhas and mudras such as hands in prayer, Anjali mudra, are glazed over and used without intention.
Anjali Mudra is used many times throughout most yoga practices – at the beginning to open, throughout in your sun salutations in Tadasana, and at the end to seal the practice.
Wrist care can begin here, by using this posture with intention - physically and energetically.
“Anjali Mudra is used as a posture of composure, of returning to one’s heart, whether you are greeting someone or saying goodbye, initiating or completing an action. As you bring your hands together at your centre, you are literally connecting the right and left hemispheres of your brain. This is the yogic process of unification, the yoking of our active and receptive natures. In the yogic view of the body, the energetic or spiritual heart is visualised as a lotus at the centre of the chest. Anjali mudra nourishes this lotus heart with awareness, gently encouraging it to open as water and light do a flower” - Shiva Rea, The Yoga Journal.
In my studies in India, I learnt that the healing powers of the body come from the heart chakra. It is from here that we can send healing energy to our own body and to others. This ancient practice of Anjali Mudra then, is a beautiful posture to begin sending healing energy to your wrists. Try it now.
With your hands in prayer, thumbs resting gently on your sternum, close the eyes and take 3 full conscious breaths to begin increasing the flow of prana.
Now, with your internal gaze allow your heart centre, the middle of your chest to take all of your attention. Feel the heart as a hub of energy and sensation.
Now take a deep inhale and with the out breath imagine you are sending this energy from your heart to your hands, feeling it flow out the left and right sides of the heart, travelling down your arms and into your hands. Use this powerful energetic practice whenever you need healing, calm and centering.
The physical practice of pressing the hands together in Anjali Mudra is also key in strengthening the muscles of the forearms. Slightly spread the fingers in prayer and press the hands firmly together. Spread the chest open from the inside, lengthen the side waist as you gently bring the elbows in line with your wrists, slide your shoulders away from the ears. Pressure should be evenly spread through the underside of all ten knuckles.
Hold this for ten breaths, take a rest, and repeat. You should begin to feel a burn in your forearms as you fire up muscles that have been laying dormant.
A Bandha is a physical and energetic lock and is used in different parts of the body to intensify and support your practice. Hasta means hand so hasta bandha is literally a hand lock. Understanding this movement and implementing it into your practice will strengthen those underused muscles and support your wrists and elbows.
Start on all fours, wrists are directly underneath shoulders or ever so slightly in front.
Spread the hands wide to find a little stretch in the space between your fingers.
Bring your weight gently in your hands and send this weight into all ten knuckles, as you did in Anjali Mudra. Notice where the weight naturally moves to. Is it the outer edge? If yes, you are not alone, this is the most common shift of weight for new yogi’s, it’s also the weakest side of the joint and is not designed for weight-bearing.
Press firmly now into the index finger and thumb and the muscular part between them. This sends the weight through the stronger structures of the forearm which travel through upper arm and shoulder to fully support your body.
Next imagine your hands are little starfish and begin to suction your palm up, you may feel like you want to claw a little with your fingers, keep the pressure through the knuckles.
This is hasta bandha. To recap – we spread fingers wide, pressure through all ten knuckles with extra energy into the index finger and thumb, lift the palm so there is lightness here.
Try this now in your downward facing dog, and for a deeper challenge try plank. If done correctly this should relieve your pain. Like most people you will need to build your strength here so if you need to stay on all fours for a while then that is perfect, there is no rush. Eventually this will become second nature!
So keep practicing, remembering to consistently bring this intention into your practice.