We text, we type, we grip, we grab. On any given day we ask our arms and hands to do a million and one complex tasks. We may even go to the gym to strengthen those muscles. But once again our underlying drive is that it will enable us to grip, grab and move even heavier things than we did before.
But how much time do we actually spend balancing out all that contracting with relaxing, loosening and stretching those same, often forgotten muscles and tendons of the forearms? This is where using Qigong for elbow and wrist pain can do wonders.
The complex manual dexterity that our fingers and hands provide, is reliant on the proper functioning of the 20 different muscles in the forearms. However, the problem lies in the fact that the tasks we tend to perform, recruit the same set of muscles, moving the joints through very similar ranges of motion.
What is the cause of pain in the Elbow and Wrist?
These repetitive movements cause facial adhesions to build up, forming scar tissue between the muscles. That scar tissue leads to internal muscle friction, restriction, and eventually inflammation and degeneration.
Once scar tissue has built up in the muscles affecting the elbow and wrist, irritation is just around the corner. The problem is, our hands never get a rest. Try going through just one afternoon without using your hands… AT ALL! Not easy. Because they never get to rest, it is very hard for them to heal once injured.
Other than actually breaking your arm and putting it in a sling, it’s the only time that the muscles and joints of your upper limbs can take a vacation.
Once again the problem lies in the way we live our lives. Disease is truly a product of behaviour. Although we may do many different things in our day, when it comes to our hands, grabbing and holding STUFF tends to be 90% of their job description.
Maybe we need to take mid-day shadow puppet sessions or break out our flamenco castanets to change up the motor recruitment a little. This would challenge us to move our muscles and joints in new and exciting ways which would, in turn, break up some of the connective tissue glue that is causing so much discomfort.
What muscles affect the function of the Elbow and Wrist?
Much of the pain we experience is due to the dysfunction of two specific compartments of muscles. The first is the lateral compartment (outside of the elbow). The Brachioradialis and the Extensor digitorum communis muscles that lie on the lateral side of our forearm, tend to be the focus of much of the treatment and rehab exercises when it comes to elbow and wrist pain.
These are the guys causing what we used to call tennis elbow, now more commonly known as mousers elbow. They are responsible for extending the wrist and fingers.
The second is the medial compartment (inside of the elbow). The flexor carpi radialis (FCR) and the pronator teres muscles that lie on the medial side of our forearm, tend to be the focus when it comes to the golfer's elbow. They are responsible for flexing and rotating the wrist.
But the basic pathology is the same. Certain muscles get overused leading to fascial adhesions and motor recruitment restrictions. As things get tighter, friction on underlying structures is increased leading to different irritations and resulting inflammation. All of which leads to pain and discomfort.
How Can Qigong Exercise Help Elbow and Wrist Pain?
This is where Qigong exercise comes in,.... well.... handy! The movements of Qigong often employ soft rotational movements performed through rather large ranges of motion. This helps to balance out the forearms by engaging all, instead of only a few of the muscles responsible for the movement of the fingers and hands.
By challenging the muscles and motor pathways with gentle, yet complex and diverse movements, you can very quickly bring those cranky elbows, stiff wrists, and achy knuckles back into harmony.
Qigong Exercises for Elbow and Wrist Pain
Qigong Exercise #1 - Turning the light bulb- This Qigong movement helps to activate and balance the supinator and pronator muscles of the forearms. It can even be done while sitting at your desk. It’s great for those people who spend their day hammering away at a keyboard. Every 2 hours take 1 minute and Turn The Light Bulbs!!
Qigong Exercise #2 - Stretch and Receive - This Qigong movement helps to tie in the supinators and pronators with the flexor and extensors of the wrist and hand. Once again, this exercise can be done while sitting at your desk without drawing too much attention to your secret Qigong office workout.
Qigong Exercise #3 - Tea Cups - This movement activates the entire arm from shoulder to fingertip. It is the signature movement of the Wiji Qigong set. It has been said that this exercise is a “full-body fixer-upper!”
It can be used as a stand-alone full-body moving meditation that provides stimulation to every acupuncture meridian. It is however done in a standing position so you may want to invite your colleagues to join in so you don’t look like you’re practicing the latest Tic Toc routine!
These three exercises can be done as often as you like. Do them first thing in the morning to prepare your arms for whatever you have in store for them on that day. Use them in the afternoon to relieve the stress and strain of repetitive movements at work or in the garden.
Finally, you could use them at the end of the day to bring the arms back into balance after a hard day's work. Whatever the time, using Qigong for elbow and wrist pain is always a good choice.
...Give it a try!
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