Yoga and various forms of fitness have long been addressing areas of the body to strengthen. Perhaps the Most popular are the Abs, and Buttocks and thats because strengthening these areas not only helps most people feel good but they are also associated with looking good in most cultures. Many areas of the body are often over looked even though many people experience discomfort in them, especially as we age. As I teach around the world, one of the areas of the body that seems to be neglected and causing discomfort across the age groups are the Hands and Wrists.
1.Health of Your Wrist.
The number one reason to strengthen anything in your body is to feel good. If you are a Yogi, Acrobat, or Breakdancer you are no stranger to being on your hands, but simply being on your hands doesn’t necessarily increase strength or health of the wrists. I define health of the muscular system as balanced strength, and range of motion. We often define our strength by the muscles we can see or the actions we can do, and the problem with that is many of our muscles are not visible from the outside. To address the deeper muscles of the body, you have to first learn what they are and what their roll is in supporting your body and its functional movement.
While my personal Yoga practice has brought me tremendous body awareness, I am continuously open to various forms of movement and exercise in order to discover ways to keep my body in balance. I remember many years ago thinking Yoga was all I needed to keep me feeling good- and that was true for many years…until it wasn’t. This is normal of course- if you start something that is physically or emotionally healing for you its likely because it helps to reverse your patterns and bring about balance. For me when it comes to increasing health of my muscular system I seek out the muscles in my body that are underused, or misused and train my mind to become aware of them, and my body to use them. The seeking process starts in my yoga practice, and then I apply my new awareness to other movements like pull ups, chopping wood, playing hockey, dancing, or something as simple as chopping vegetables. I do my best to practice “Yoga” (presence) in all actions so that I can discover what is feeling good and where does my potential exist. After I discover new ways to move and create balanced strength in my body I then revisit my yoga practice and find ways to include my new found strength and awareness. For me, I spend tremendous amount of time in Handstand so I have designed wrist strengtheners for my self that can be applied in many of my yoga poses like plank and down doge, that keep me feeling good and actually make handstand far easier…which brings me to number two.
Take a day and acknowledge all the things you do with your hands/wrists. Maybe you are like me and there are some obvious things like handstand, arm balances, downward dogs, planks, pull ups, push ups and so on.When You are strong in your hands/wrists you will be amazed at how much potential you will unlock in your body. The very first thing I teach in my Handstand workshops and trainings is how to use what I call “The Breaks” which is wrist and finger strength, and that awareness alone opens up a world of possibility for people. In addition to your yoga practice look at the other ways in which we use our hands and fingers. Texting, typing, eating, reading, chopping, filming, drinking, holding, changing closes, shampooing, high fiving, picking that thing up, and the list goes on. It is no secret that those of us that have one or two hands use them for nearly everything we do. Coming from an italian family I can say our hands don’t even get a break when we speak 😉 Most of us, present company included don’t pay attention to something until it is causing us pain or discomfort, and at that point it is a much longer journey back to ease than if we address imbalances early on. The work of a Yogi, or mind body practitioner is to try and become more present in body and mind which includes appreciating what is going well, and look for ways in which we have room to grow. If you are not appreciating your strengths you will be scared to look for where you are weak. Use your yoga practice and your presence in your daily life actions to appreciate where you are already strong, celebrate those areas, and have the courage to see where you can grow. Don’t be fooled, this method won’t prevent you from inevitable aches and pains or injuries but you will become so aware of your body that when things happen you will have the skills to asses what your body needs to return to the state of balanced. When your the muscles of your hands and wrists are in balance you have greater available functionality to enjoy all that you do with your hands without the distraction of aches and pains or lack of ability.
Lastly, it is in our nature as a species of this earth that we grow older, and while we have no control of this, we do have a choice about how we take care of ourselves. Obviously certain health issues are beyond our control, but using that as an excuse not to take care of yourself is an easy way out. Many of us have friends, parents, grand parents that we wish would live a healthier life, and take control over their health. It is always easier to see other peoples lack of actions then it is to see our own. If you don’t take control of your health now you will not take on the responsibility as you get older. Pattern yourself now, in the same way we help our young ones to develop health patterns like brushing their teeth and taking showers. Get in the habit of appreciating your current health and taking care of yourself to maintain health. With the subject at hand, develop your strength of your wrists/hands/fingers so that you have the skills to keep them healthy as you age.
Putting it into Practice
Approaching health in the body can be overwhelming, knowing where to start can be a scary unknown, so easier to simply avoid it until your body screams loud enough for you to listen. But as we all know there is another way. Start small, focus on the strength of your fingers, then the wrists. Develop the skills to get to know your body by directing your attention to understanding one area. Developing the skills to become present to the hands will translate to every other section of the body. Here is my recommendation: Observe all the possible movements of your index finger. Then, choose one movement and apply resistance (using your other hand). To give you a head start ill give you a specific exercise to try right now.
- Look at the back of your left hand and try to pull the back of your hand toward you bending at your wrist joint, otherwise known as extension in anatomical terms. Your will likely see or feel muscles engage along the side of the forearm that you are looking at.
- Next simply take your other hand and create a resisting force by attempting to push your left hand into flexion. With your left hand resist until you feel these muscles are forced to work harder, now you are developing strength.
- Take this approach to other actions of the wrists, and fingers.
If you are looking for more guidance in strengthening your hands and wrists check out the Handstand Strength Training video program, where I share my favorite exercises that not only increase your ability to access arm balances and handstands but could also bring about great awareness and balance in your wrists. In addition I always encourage researching youtube for the wealth of free knowledge that is out there. If you are in a place of pain try and find people that can help you understand your body on a deeper level. There are specialist in bones, muscles, the nervous system, energy lines and so on, and being open to learning from everyone will give you the best opportunity to heal. Most of all take action and take control of what is controllable, and do your best to breathe through everything that is “out of your hands.”
I am always available for a free Skype or Phone Consultation to help you figure out what is appropriate for you and what your next step might be. If this intrigues you and you want to learn more there are numerous ways to continue your study with me: