The secret language of bones
The littlest bones of the human body are inside the ear.
But there are a set of small bones that make up a section of our body also referred to as the ‘wrist’.
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome is one of the conditions affecting the wrist area and causes much pain and discomfort.
In the blog I will attempt to clarify some the kinaesthetic language that underlies the explanation of CTS. This may prove useful towards clarifying our mental image of how the wrist functions as part of the rest of our structure. By gaining more clarity, we can then take useful measures to avoid or move towards recovering from CTS and other common conditions of the wrist area.
Firstly, if you are experiencing tingling sensations in your hand or wrist that may be shooting up the rest of your arm, please seek medical advise. As there are many contributing factors aside from overuse. That being said, most musicians who suffer from CTS have found that by investigating their movement habits, they have been able to overcome CTS.
The word on the street about wrist pain management
According to a fact sheet provided by the National Institute of Health:
“The carpal tunnel – a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand – houses the median nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the median nerve to be compressed. The result may be pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm. Although painful sensations may indicate other conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common and widely known of the entrapment neuropathies in which the body’s peripheral nerves are compressed or traumatised.”
1. Although the carpal tunnel is indeed a narrow passageway, created by 8 carpal bones, there is nothing ‘rigid’ about these or any other bones and ligaments in our body. Bones are strong but not rigid, they are alive, pinkish in colour and produce marrow. One of the most important structural qualities of our bones is that they are actually very resilient, resonant and have rebound. Bones provide constructive bounce so that our joints and ligaments can function optimally.
2. The medial nerve compression may have been a cause of underlying disease, but if the way we move may have contributed to this compression, we do have a certain degree of choice of undoing our movement habits. If CTS is a use based condition, then we learn to undo the compression and ease the symptoms. Our brain is in control of the nervous system and WE are in control of our brain.
3. Find out where things are at: Since the median nerve starts from the lateral and medial cords of the brachial plexus (see drawing below) and has contributions from the neck area as well, it is certainly useful to address the overall relationship between head, neck, shoulder and torso, so we can create less overall strain and more coordinated movement.
4. Place the palm of your hand comfortably on a table, so your elbow is slightly higher than your wrist. Take a moment to notice your overall contact between your sit bones and your chair and your feet on the floor. Slowly roll your hand so that your palm faces the ceiling by rotating around the pinky side of your hand. Only do what is comfortable. Notice the flow of movement from fingers, to the wrist area, lower and upper arm and your shoulder and head.
6. Listen to any tingling sensations and seek appropriate medical advise before the symptoms become pronounced. Use the tiny bones in your ears, and listen, your vestibular area is also rich with the ability to improve your kinaesthetic awareness and balance. Practicing the Alexander Technique and improving body awareness can help you recover from use bases CTS, by giving you more choice as to how you do what you do.
The first port of call when you’re experiencing any wrist or arm pain should be your medical professional. If it’s determined that you are suffering from RSI symptoms, and are looking for a practical and realistic program for improving your postural support and reducing pain, Rediscover Ease can provide solutions.
Here is a video of a few simple stretches from Aikido training that are designed to calm your mind and body and help you gently warm up before you play your instrument.
I would love to hear about your stories of overcoming wrist pain.