Painful, stiff fingers stop you from enjoying so many activities. There are various causes, each needing different treatment approaches. Whether you have repetitive strain injury or arthritis, yoga hand exercises called mudras can help you get your much-needed flexibility back.
Causes of Tendon Stiffness
Your hand tendons connect your muscles to bone, basically functioning like rubber bands that help your flex your hands to grip, clench your fist and do so many everyday activities. Cutting or tearing your tendons stops you from bending your fingers fully, and all kinds of accidents can cause this. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common health cause of the problem, and although this is more associated with aging, it also develops in younger people. Putting the hand in a splint is a typical treatment but more serious damage may need surgery. Repetitive strain injury, or RSI, makes the tendons swell, causing pain and stiffness. A repeated action, such as using a computer mouse, causes the condition.
Clinical Studies on Yoga
A study by the University of Pennsylvania that evaluated the usefulness of yoga for people who had osteoarthritis in the hands showed that the group using yoga experienced significant pain relief and improved movement compared with the control group who had no yoga therapy. At the Patanjali Research Foundation, research on the effects of yoga on hand grip function in people with rheumatoid arthritis indicated that there was an improvement in hand and wrist mobility after a one-week intensive yoga course. The participants practiced a variety of yoga poses for five hours daily, with at least 25 percent of the exercises focusing on shoulders, arms, wrists and hands. At least 50 percent of the time was spent on breathing exercises and the rest of the time participants learned yoga postures benefiting the whole body.
Yoga hand exercises should help you manage a chronic condition such as arthritis and speed your recovery from a cut or torn tendon. One of the great advantages of yoga hand exercises is that you can do them anytime. There's no need to get your yoga mat out and change your clothes; you can do them while watching television, sitting in a meeting, or when you take a break from typing. The hand mudras connect various energy channels in your body to allow the free flow of energy and remove blocks that cause physical health issues. Combine these with some body postures and you'll benefit even more because, as Gertrude Hischli says in her book " Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands," the flexibility of your hands is directly related to the flexibility in your entire body. It's probably best to find a yoga teacher who can work out a routine of hand mudras and postures for your condition with you, rather than try to put together something yourself from books and DVDs.
Tips for Using Yoga Mudras
If you have a chronic complaint such as arthritis, Hirschli recommends that you use mudras as a matter of routine. She also says that if you can't get your fingers into a particular mudra, don't be discouraged; hold them in place with your other hand. Hirschli also suggests that you use yoga breathing, plus affirmations and visualization techniques while practicing mudras to enhance the effect.
- Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands; Gertrude Hirschli
- Journal of Rheumatology: Evaluation of a Yoga Based Regimen for Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Hands
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Flexor Tendon Injuries
- BMC Research Notes: Effect of One Week of Yoga on Function and Severity in Rheumatoid Arthritis
- NHS Choices: Repetitive Strain Injury
Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.