Giving Loving Attention to the Arms
As a writer, I’m highly dependent on my arms, wrists and hands. They are used extensively and if I don’t take care of them, I can quite quickly become injured.
As part of the process, I’ve become very conscious about my own personal practice. As a direct result, I noticed that I tend to hyper extend my arms. Not only that but when I try to readjust (as others in the practice emphasize doing), I really struggle. Could my natural hyper extensions be causing further injury?
Traditionally, when hyper extension occurs a micro bend is suggested to remedy the hyper extension. However, holding these micro bent postures can be challenging to say the least. A microbend in a posture like downward dog practically changes its intent creating a strength posture (an interesting pose, but not one that I would like to practice frequently).
The majority of research confirms that hyper extensions especially in fitness should be readjusted, but there is one author who’s view point is a bit different.
In this fascinating article , the author presents a challenge that perhaps what we once consider over extension (more than 180 degrees) of the elbow may not be harmful for some individuals. The emphasize was on recognizing your own body and paying attention to pain. If a movement creates pain, than it should not be continued.
As I continued to read this article, it just seemed to make sense. In a nut shell, it was really stating pay attention to your body. Be present and recognize that everyone is different. However, that being said there are some changes that I’ve made to become more conscious on the positions of my arms:
1) In extended arm positions (like in Downward Dog), I am making a conscious effort to watch the position of my fingers. I found that pressing my hands into the pose and ensuring that the weight was equally divided relieved the pressure of off my joints.
2) Completing some postures on my fore arms like plank (now becoming forearm plank), Downward Dog (now becoming dolphin) and even table top instead of on my hands. This simultaneously provides a rest for my wrist while ensuring that my arms aren’t hyper extended.
3) Using props to help with the strain. My favorite new prop are Yoga Jellies. I usually give myself at least one rest class a week where I will use the jellies for the entire class. On weeks where I’ve been doing a lot of writing, I will use them the entire week.
4) Taking rest periods which are non hand/wrist bearing. Especially in a Vinyasa (Flow style class) where I may complete several Sun Salutations.
5) Involving several stretches (counter poses) for both the wrists and arms. I complete this both in my practice and throughout the day.
6) Practicing proper rotation of the elbow in poses like Downward Dog.
Whatever technique I choose, I once again need to continually remind myself of the unique abilities in all of us. Listening to our body is the key to ensuring that our yoga practice is safe and healthy for all of us.