Can you spend hours at the computer?
Have work which entails repetitive grasping or delicate manipulation with hands, awkward positioning of the torso, sustained reaching with all the arms, or bending the neck? Have you noticed sensations of tingling, numbness, tightness, or pain in your hands, arms, neck, or upper spine? If so, you might be at risk for repetitive strain injury (RSI).
These include carpal tunnel syndrome, cervical (neck) strain, trapeziums muscle strain and most severe of thoracic outlet syndrome. Their common denominator is a lot of an inexplicable action, done for a long time, without sufficient rest or time to regenerate.
Unchecked, RSI can result in tissue damage that’s severe enough to trigger abnormal function. Injured nerves become irritable and hypersensitive, which causes abnormal signs throughout the neural networks at the spinal cord all the way into the mind, and this arouses ‘pain’ at abnormally low thresholds.
The next yoga postures are useful in healing RSI. They concentrate primarily on the neck, upper back, and torso. Opening and releasing tension in these areas of the body has a direct, positive effect on the symptoms of RSI.
This easy stretch helps restore proper alignment to the neck and head.
Stand in mountain pose with your right hand over your navel and the back of your left hand against the back of your waist. Inhale, drawing up the breath from the ground to expand the navel centre between your hands. As you exhale, bend your head to the right, maintaining the left shoulder to extend the left side of the neck. Keep on breathing softly as you gradually turn your chin to the right shoulder, then slowly up to the left. Then back to the ideal shoulder, then finally rolling the chin forward toward the centre of the chest. Inhale up to centre.
Repeat on the other side, reversing the hands and bending the head to your left.
This sequence alleviates pressure round and between the shoulder blades. It’s also a valuable stretch for the thoracic spine and adjoining nerve channels, which scientifically influence the arms.
Sit near the front edge of an armless chair, feet flat on the ground. Inhaling, gently expand the chest and let the arms swing out into the sides a bit. As you exhale, slump from the abdomen and torso and cross your arms in front of your torso, crossing elbows if you can, and hit to get the opposite shoulder blade or upper arm.
Gradually straighten up. If your elbows are crossed, see if you can straighten your forearms so they are perpendicular (the palms will be facing away from each other) and fold the reduced palms to the upper palm.
A gentle supported opening in the torso, together with relaxation, re-educates the body and nervous system, and release deep-seated tension.
Take a thick cotton or wool blanket and fold it in a strip six to eight inches wide. Sit on the ground, knees bent, and slowly lower yourself down so that your chest rolls over the blanket with the lower points of the shoulder blades directly at the top edge of the blanket. Stretch out the arms on the floor, elbows relaxed, palms up. You should feel a gentle but decisive lift from the torso without pressure in the trunk or harshness from the breath. If you feel prepared, slide one heel out, then another, until the legs are right, the back of the hips grounding into the floor.