Many women develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) during Pregnancy and find that it can linger well into the Post Natal period making the early months and even sometimes years of 'momming' a tough job. At best, the symptoms of CTS are uncomfortable and at worse, they can be pretty debilitating. CTS is caused by the compression of the Median Nerve that passes through the Carpal Tunnel at the supinated wrist. It is usually characterized by a numbness, tingling or a lack of power or ability to load through the affected hand/wrist. A lack of ability to put pressure on this hand (like when performing a press-ups or tricep dips off a bench) and in some cases the pain in the hand is accompanied by some degree of pain and discomfort further up the arm, into the shoulder and up to the neck. Bad news for a busy mom but a pretty regular occurrence for many of the women we serve!
The median nerve can be compressed by a decrease in the space within the canal due to an increase in the size of the contents. Sometimes the swelling of lubrication tissue around the flexor tendons is part of the puzzle. As pressure/restriction builds within the canal, this can lead to compression of the Median Nerve. The Median Nerve is derived from the Brachial Plexus (C5-T1) and descends down the arm, lateral to the Brachial Artery. It enters the forearm via the cubital fossa and travels between flexor digitorum profundus and flexor digitorum superficialis before entering the hand via the Carpal Tunnel.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be triggered by repetitive hand/arm movements such as typing and the repetitive movements of early motherhood, chronic postural habits that change the musculoskeletal system surrounding the journey of the nerve from the Brachial Plexus (think deep Biceps and forearm muscles and the muscles/connective tissue of the wrist and palm of the hand) that accompanies the journey of the Median nerve from the spine to the hand. CTS can be related to arthritis of the wrist and hypothyroidism (an increasingly common hormone dysfunction in the Post Natal period (1).
Below is a really brilliant video of a really simple strategy 'Median Nerve Floss' to try with your client if you suspect or it's been confirmed that she has Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
With thanks to Martin Haines for the use of his brilliant video.
'Cures' for CTS can include Steroid injections and surgery.....but as in most things, conservative measures need to be exhausted before medication or surgical intervention and for sure, there are man 'whole-body' strategies that can be applied that have the potential to not only reduce but irradicate the symptoms of CTS completely.
So, if CTS is confirmed, there are many simple 'homeworkables' that you can teach your client that should improve the symptoms, from conscious whole body re-alignment strategies to local to the hand Soft Tissue Release Strategies....the video below contains some of my go-to strategies that are simple enough for the client to incorporate into her daily life and which usually work when a whole-life approach is taken to the issue as well as the movements performed consistently as part of a 'self-care'/preventative strategy.
- 3-Point Dynamic 'Arm Line' Release
- Wall Contract/Relax (PIR) for the forearm, bicep anterior delt
- 'Yogic Waves in Hip Flexion' - Thoracic Rotation, Rhomboid Release + Anterior Arm Line Release Combined
- Anterior Neck/Platysma Release
- IAM Tool for the forearm
- Self Wrist Soft Tissue Release STR
'Back Line' Realignment Strength Exercises/Strategies
- Rhomboid Release with Yoga Balls
- Rhomboid 'Razors'
- Wall Angels
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