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Do This For Happy Wrists

Yvette is 6.5 months pregnant, and has been experiencing wrist discomfort that keeps her awake at night and interferes with her day-to-day activities.


Wrist discomfort is really common during pregnancy and postpartum.


During pregnancy, the most common wrist issue is pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome.  You can thank your hormones for that.


Your hormones cause increased fluid in your body, as well as ligament laxity.  The swelling caused from fluid retention, and the softening in your ligaments can squish and irritate your median nerve, the nerve that runs through your carpal tunnel (an opening in the bones of the wrist).  This can lead to pins and needles sensations, numbness, and pain in your hands or wrists.


Pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel is usually resolved by giving birth, but for some folks, it can linger postpartum.


If you have nagging wrist discomfort postpartum, the most likely cause is De Quervain’s Stenosing Tenosynovitis, or “Mommy Thumb”.  De Quervain’s is caused by repetitive motion, like holding and cradling your baby.  Lots of holding and cradling a baby (or holding your phone) require a specific motion and position of the wrist, but if you aren’t counterbalancing that with opposite movements, the tissue around your thumb can get irritated and inflamed.


The good news is that you can find relief.  I have been working with Yvette weekly for a month, and she has noticed a significant improvement in her symptoms.  Her wrists feel better for a day or two after her sessions, and when her symptoms return, she knows some quick and easy movements that she can do from her desk that will provide her with temporary relief.


Here are some things we work on:


1.  Nerve stretches for the median, ulnar and radial nerves


You aren’t really “stretching” the nerve, but instead, restoring the nerve’s ability to glide around the surrounding tissue, and relaxing anything that can be compressing the nerve.


2.  Wrist mobility


Most of us spend our day with our wrists slightly flexed… typing, scrolling your phone, steering a car, holding a baby, etc.  Your body doesn’t like to be stuck!  Spend some time moving your wrist in the opposite direction to get your wrist unstuck and moving well.


3.  Shoulder strengthening


Strong shoulders can help support your wrists.  I teach Yvette variations of this sequence every week, and when she joins Yoga for Moms with New Babies in the spring, she’ll continue to work on this sequence.


In Yoga for Moms with New Babies, we do all these things.  I sneak nerve stretches into low lunge and Warrior 2, and wrist mobility into Bridge Pose.  We strengthen your shoulders, so you can easily bear weight on your hands. When Claire first started the series a year ago, she couldn’t bear weight on her hands, but now, she can hang out Tabletop without any problems.


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