6 Week Programme: Week 5 - Hands, Wrists & Arms
Updated: Aug 2
The Hands, Wrists & Forearms
The hand has 29 joints making it extremely effective and versatile, but also vulnerable to injury. The health of the wrists depends upon the strength and tone of the forearm muscles, and how we bear weight on our hands and wrists. Repetitive use can cause damage to muscle tension, however issues can also be caused by the way we put weight on our hands. We want to ensure that when we come into weight bearing poses we work with the anatomy of our body not against it. The thumb, index and middle fingers are connected to the radius which is the stronger of the two bones in the forearm. The radius transfers weight to the humerus (upper arm bone) and thus to the shoulder girdle. However, the little finger side of the hand, connects to the ulna, which connects to your elbow – a joint not designed to directly bear weight, its job is to facilitate rotation in forearm.
For most, the bottom of the forearm, from palm up to inner elbow is very weak and underused, its required when we want to push with our hands. The top of the forearm is used to lift our hands when bending from the wrists. Over time the imbalance can lead to tendonitis in the wrist and elbow. There are many sensitive nerves from the palm to inner elbow, therefore we need to ensure muscle tone is there to protect it, if not it can result in inflammation and nerve pain or damage.
In yoga there are many poses where the whole palm is on the ground, when we come into these positions, we must try not to ground into the heel of the hand, instead spread the whole palm of the hand and direct weight into finger mounds, particularly the mound of the index finger. By pressing down into the mound of the fingers we’re also engaging the underside of the forearm, building strength and muscle tone helping protect the nerves on the underside of the arms. An exercise we can perform to warm up the hands and wrists is the hand dance:
- Come down into a table top pose
- Spread fingers and ground down through finger mounds
- Take a few breaths here and feel the sensation of where the weight is being placed in the hands
- Turn fingers to face outwards and then inwards
- Then bring wrists to face the front of the mat fingers pointing backwards (as pictured above)
- Repeat a couple of times
We will now bring our attention to the upper arms, specifically the biceps and triceps.
The biceps attach to the scapula and the radius, and the triceps attach to the scapula, humerus and ulna. These two muscles work together in a pair, their main role to move the arm at the elbow joint.
We need strength in our arms for everyday life; maybe to lift a small child, carry your shopping home or push a heavy door open. Having strong arms allow us to complete daily tasks with ease.
Many weight bearing yoga poses help to build strength in the arms, such as chaturanga dandasana (lowering down to the ground from plank). Another example is fallen triangle:
- From downward facing dog hug right knee underneath chest for tiger curl and then take knee across to tap inside of left elbow
- Extend the right leg out to the left side, and place edge of foot down onto the ground
- Press down through right hand and lift left arm up to the sky, gaze towards top hand (if neck feels ok)
Sources used to help create this blog:
Note: Please ensure you warm up before completing activities listed above; by engaging in these activities you do so at your own risk.