If we have poor strength and mobility in our wrists and ankles we can suffer from pain and discomfort, not just in these joints but often the next available joints, for example the knees or hips.
Prevent Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
RSI is usually associated with doing a particular activity repeatedly or for a long period of time. Many of us are sat at a computer all day with poor posture.
Here are a few guidelines:
- Make sure your seat, keyboard, mouse and screen are positioned so that they cause the least amount of strain to your fingers, hands, wrists, neck and back.
- Adjust your chair so that your forearms are horizontal with the desk and your eyes are the same height as the top of your computer screen.
- Try to take regular breaks away from your desk.
And, please remember, pain is your body’s way of shouting “back off”, so in any pose, if your experience any sort of pain, respect your body and ease off.
One of the best things that you can do for your overall health and well being is be active. Just 30 minutes a day of movement, even just walking, will help keep your joints lubricated and flexible.
Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints – so drink up!
Kick off your shoes!
It’s not just stilettos that cause problems, wearing any type of shoe all-day long means that we become too reliant on our footwear to support us and keep us balanced. Being barefoot is beneficial to our musculoskeletal structure. So, kick off your shoes and you’ll strengthen your feet, ankles and lower legs and even those abs, you'll improve your posture and balance and also increase circulation and blood flow.
During yoga class
Those new to yoga often put too much pressure on their wrists. Instead, think of pushing away from the floor with your hands and using the strength in your arms, shoulder and back rather than ‘collapsing’ into your wrists. Likewise, ensure you plant your feet and toes firmly on the ground to ensure a solid foundation. The images in this post are excellent at demonstrating what you should be doing.
Exercises to do at home
Obviously yoga is a great way to help flex, extend, rotate and strengthen our various joints but there are also some simple exercises you can do at home.
Wrist stretches & strengtheners
- Prayer stretches: Start with your palms together in front of your chest. Slowly lower your palms (keeping them together) until your forearms form a straight line. This should look a little like you're praying and you should feel a gentle stretch in your forearms. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat several times for best results.
- Wrist flexor stretch: Extend one arm in front of you with the palm facing up. Point your hand at the floor by bending your wrist — don't turn your arm. Apply gentle pressure with your other hand until you feel a moderate stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch hands.
- Wrist extensor stretch: Extend one arm in front of you with the palm facing down. Point your hand at the floor by bending your wrist. Apply gentle pressure with your other hand until you feel a moderate stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch hands.
- Wrist squeeze: Begin this exercise holding a stress/tennis ball. Squeeze the ball as hard as possible and comfortable without pain. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times for each hand.
- Wrist circles: Stand or sit with your hands out in front of you, palms down. Move your wrists in a slow circular motion to the left, then back to the right. You may want to clench and unclench your fists as you do this to add an extra degree of motion to the exercise. After you've worked out any kinks, turn your palms over and start over.
Also, why not try doing things with your less-dominant hand, for example, brushing your teeth or stirring your dinner?! If you stick with practicing you’ll be amazed at how much stronger the less dominant wrist becomes.
Ankle stretches & strengtheners
- Alphabet range of motion: Sitting down, cross your left leg over your right leg. Using your right ankle, trace the letters of the alphabet from A-Z, imagining your big toe as a writing instrument. Repeat on the other side.
- Toe raisers: Stand on the ground with your feet parallel, raise your ankles so that you’re standing on your toes and then go back down. Repeat this until you get tired!
- Toe tappers: Sit in a chair, keep your heel on the floor or ground and tap your toes up and down, increasing the duration and speed as your progress.
- Heel drops: Put a large book on the floor; stand on it with the balls of your feet so your heels touch the ground. Raise your feet up so they form a 90° angle with the book. Hold the position for a few seconds and then come back down. Again, repeat this until you get tired.
If you are suffering with severe wrist and/or ankle pain or swelling please consult with a medical professional. Please do always speak to your yoga instructor before class if you are having any issues as they can advise you on alternative positions for certain poses.