It's all in the Wrists: Experiential Anatomy

Do you have hands? Do you use them? 

Do you use them for handling technology, for creating your art, for cycling, for golfing? If so, it's more than likely that at some point you've also experienced pain in your hands, perhaps the term "carpal tunnel syndrome" has entered your thoughts, maybe you've got some weird aches in your elbows, and your shoulders and neck feel painful and tight at times. For my next two installments of " Breathe In, Work Out" I thought I'd focus on the relationship between these parts. 

( to go directly to the workout, click here)

To begin with, let's get a basic sense of the structure we are dealing with. According to Tom Myers, it's as easy as "1, 2, 3, 4, 5". ( if we ignore the fact that there is a tiny bone that is stacked on another bone in the wrist, then he's on to something)


I don't write these blogs to lecture people on anatomy so much as I write them to give people a sense of how their bodies move on the inside, so I'm going to align with Tom's breezy delivery here, and explain it in a simple way.

You have one bone in your upper arm, which connects at the elbow to two bones in your forearm. These two bones connect to the first three bones of your wrist, which in turn connect to the lower four, which then connect to your 5 metacarpals( the finger bones in your palm) that then connect to the 5 lengths of the phalanges ( the finger bones that extend out of your palm).

To look at the way our hand positions travel up our arm, we would turn this upside down and arrive at "5, 4, 3, 2, 1".

Layered over your skeleton you have a beautiful and complex matrix of muscles, ligaments and tendons that move these bones in all of the intricate ways that have allowed humans to evolve beyond walking on all fours and eating only raw food. Indeed, it is in large part due to our manual dexterity that we have become the civilization that we are. And as usual, our strengths in certain areas create imbalances in others.

Most of our hand/wrist issues come from the need to maintain tight positions in order to manipulate devices, for example your cellphone, a paintbrush, your bike brakes, or a golf club. We repetitively do the same motion over and over for hours in order to create endorphin rushes, achieve artistic satisfaction, and earn our paycheck. Then we wonder why we hurt, or maybe we know why we hurt but we have no idea what to do about it.

Let's flip this 1,2,3,4,5 idea one more time.

Stand up and try walking for a moment just on the baby toe edge of your foot, then try the same with the big toe edge. Notice how you feel the impact not only in your foot but your shin, your knees, your thighs and your hips. Once again, acknowledge that you are, in fact, connected. 

By limiting range of motion in the fingers and palms ( we do this by only moving in certain ways all the time and  never exploring the other options ) we cause imbalances that travel up to the shoulders and the neck. 

So this week, I offer you an 8 minute sequence to restore range of motion in your hands and wrists. 




My mission is to create a world where people are happy in their bodies.
I believe that happier people will bring us closer to a world that exists in

Breathe On