This past week my friend A. asked me about how to prevent repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinoisis from working at the computer. Even if you don’t work with computers or your hands, what I have to say will help you bring your “yoga mind” to any kind of work you do.
What do I mean by “yoga mind”? Check out my video below to find out.
ACTION STEP: In a spirit of compassion rather than judgment for yourself, ask yourself : How have you either ignored or didn’t pay attention to your body’s signals at work? And how can you start paying attention?
In the comments, tell me what you are going to change to bring your “yoga mind” off the mat.
If you’ve got any questions about yoga, meditation, healthy living, let me know and I’ll answer you in next Thursday’s Q and A video.
Category: Active Hands Yoga ⇔ Tags: rsi, tendinosis, tendon sheath inflammation, video, work, yoga ⇔ No Comments
I wrote the following letter to a friend who started a new job and reported that she started having pains in her hands and wrists. If you too suffer from pains in your hands and/or wrists, read on for my advice. I am not a doctor, so consult with one before you take my advice below. And if you do act on my advice, let me know how it worked out for you!
F— told me that you recently noticed pain in your hands and wrists and suspect that you may be suffering from tendon sheath inflammation like me. I’d first go see a doctor to hear what s/he has to say. My primary care doctor referred me to an orthopedic doctor, who referred me to a physiotherapist who massaged my hands two to three times a week. Let me know what kind of treatment your doctor recommends.
I can offer, however, a few tips on what to do at home in conjunction with your doctors’ recommendations.
Do you have acute pain?
When I had acute pain in my hands, wrists, and forearms, my orthopedic doctor told me to do nothing that involves my hands, ice them from time to time,
During this time of acute pain, I recommend meditating or practicing yoga nidra to not only relax but also to take your focus off of the pain and towards your inner self. I remember that I got slightly depressed during this time, since I felt so useless. I couldn’t work, cut vegetables for dinner, clean, ride my bike, or wash my hair with ease (because of how thick and heavy it would get with water). In general, I had to rely on my friends for everything. I started to let my illness define me. Yoga nidra really helped me to find my center and separate myself from the illness.
Prevention for the future
Although I have no proof, I believe my inflammation started because I was holding my hands and wrists in the same strained position for too long without movement.
Sitting at a desk all day gives us back pain and tight hips and strained arms. Sitting in front of a computer often forces us to sit in an un-natural position, hunched up, shoulders tensed, with an incorrect back alignment. The problem is even worse for laptop users, who must change the position of their neck to see the screen and also contort their posture even more in order to use the keyboard on their lap. Combined with the mental strain of staring at a screen, using computers actually places a great deal of stress on our bodies.
Research shows that no one can manage the long term strain that continuous computer use places on the body for ten years without some problem developing. Repetitive activities like bending the wrist to type and to click a mouse, focusing eyes continuously at the computer screen, working with intense concentration or long periods of monotonous tasks may result in carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), repetitive strain injuries (RSI), headaches, tired and weak eyes. In particular, “computer desk posture”‚ basically, sitting too long with bad posture, can, over time, train our shoulders to roll forward and our chins to jut out. Sitting for long hours with distorted posture may result in upper back pain and shoulder pain. In addition, mental fatigue, stress, and distracted minds may also result.
While sitting at the computer, make sure that your posture supports you comfortably as much as possible.
- Extend the spine to sit up straight, and relax the shoulder blades down the back and open outwards.
- Maintain awareness of the breath while working.
- Your work station should also be set up correctly. For desktops, the monitor screen should be eye level or slightly below eye level.
- Wrists should be level when typing or using the mouse.
- Feet should be placed on the floor.
The solution research offers to repetitive stress injuries is to rotate between work and other activities at regular intervals or, even better, don’t use the computer for prolonged periods of time. If that is impossible, take frequent breaks, notice discomfort in the body, and practice some exercises to counteract its effects.
Take breaks every 30 minutes to become aware of your body rather than continually focusing on your work.
- Either walk around,
- breathe deeply for 2-3 minutes, or
- do some eye or wrist exercises for 2-3 minutes while seated at your desk.
You may also alternate among these three break practices, depending on how your body feels. Your body is your best friend, the closest one you’ll have for all your life. Listen to your body. Be kind and gentle. It’ll help you. Love yourself enough to take care of yourself.
- Try a few minutes of trataka or yogic visual cleansing exercises: look in each of the eight directions, focusing the gaze on an extended, moving thumb; and focusing and defocusing their eyes without blinking on a flame at eye level.
- Practice some neck, shoulder, and arm stretches at your desk. Simply rotating your neck, arms, and hands will bring some fresh blood and energy to your body. Even though your pain is in your hands, your shoulders, upper back, neck, and hands are all connected.
Live for a healthy body
To promote general health, try to live healthfully.
- Outside of work, try a yoga class to compress and stretch all parts of your body.
- Try yoga nidra or meditation to reduce stress and tension on the muscular, mental and emotional levels.
- Sleep at least eight hours per night, because the body repairs itself when we sleep—especially between the hours of 10 PM to 2 AM. Get ready for bed at 9 PM, journal or meditate to calm the mind, and see if you can fall asleep by 10 PM.
Eat foods that decrease inflammation slowly and mindfully to chew the food well. Saliva helps digest food and so when we chew a lot, we don’t overtax stomach.
Omega-3 fatty acids: walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sardines
Deeply-colored fruits, especially blueberries and cherries and pomegranate seeds
Uncooked olive Oil
At least 2 Liters of water a day to flush out the toxins in your system
What foods trigger inflammation?
Sugar, including soft drinks
Meat, especially beef and pork
Nitrates (e.g.: in cured meats like ham, bacon and salami)
Solanine – a specific trigger for joint pain (a plant chemical in tomato*, eggplant, capsicum, chilies, potato and tobacco)
Animal fats (including dairy products)
I know it’s a long list. I find it hard to avoid all of these foods too!
My strategy is to eat as much of the anti-inflammatory foods as much as possible, and if I drink some coffee with soy or dairy milk, I don’t stress myself out about it.
Another strategy is to limit the foods that trigger inflammation that you love the most to once a week. Having a few days “off” rather than just ingesting smaller daily quantities of the foods that trigger inflammation allows you to detox from it.
My final question for you is to think about what in your life caused this pain?
Is it your new job? The 50-hour work week? Think about how to make these components of your life impact your life less negatively.
Do you have any questions? Let me know, and I’ll be happy to share my experience and knowledge with you.
Get well soon!
Category: Yoga Solutions ⇔ Tags: tendinosis, tendon sheath inflammation ⇔ No Comments