Sunday, April 01, 2007

RSI Wrists

I have RSI. It all started ten years ago with my first job, and my first stints of sitting for long hours in front of a computer. Before long, I was wearing wrist guards on both wrists, and sometimes the pain would make it hard to sleep. According to Deborah Quilter, these are bad signs.

When I started practicing yoga, things improved dramatically, but when I started practicing Ashtanga, it all went downhill again. In fact, during my (Ashtanga) teacher training, I constantly had tennis elbow in my left arm. A few months later, on my honeymoon, I would ask my husband to hold my wrist instead of my hand because the pressure made the aching feel a bit better. Now I don't think the problem was with the practice, but with how I was going about it. To me, it wasn't a 'proper' practice unless I did every vinyasa, every asana, injury or illness be damned. I am not quite sure where I got this silly idea, but I think some of it was from that teacher training course, where another girl, who didn't follow the rules with quite as much ardour as me (yes, I did practice on a sprained ankle every day for two weeks), was cold-shouldered. She wasn't up to standard. Eventually I looked for a gentler, more intuitive way to practice.

But the thing is, after a decade of wrist abuse, I still experience pain. If I drive a lot, and I do, the pain gets worse. Most days I drive for about 4 hours, and then spend a few more in front of the computer (blog, anyone?). And I demonstrate far more yogasanas than I should. Poses like caturanga get me the most; I have tried to correct my alignment so my wrists are directly under my elbows, but the thing is, my wrists don't extend to that angle. Never have. Looks like they never will. They are a little broken. Poses like peacock have never been in my realm of possibility because, although I am muscularly strong enough, my wrists just cave when I try to bend them that way. Embarrassingly enough, I have tried, quite a few times!

I am really struggling at the moment - I have got my shoulder girdle, arms and wrists to a healthier state than they have been for years, but I am beginning to realise that maybe, just maybe, caturanga is never going to be a good idea for me. I really like caturanga, I really like the kind of sun salutes that involve caturanga. But they hurt. If not during the practice, then (usually) afterwards. So I now have to face that my ego is the problem here, and that hurts! I mean, me, not do super flashy sun salutes any more? Puh-lease. Isn't it awful when you catch yourself not practicing what you preach?

13 comments:

Mary said...

What a great post and yep, I've been having to fight my ego too a little lately. I still can't get from downward dog to bring one leg forward in a lunge fluidly. I still need to help my foot forward and have been a little embarrassed that I am still not able to do this. Maybe I never will?

Be kind to yourself babe and definitely be mindful of your limitations. My teacher dislocated her knee in her early days and that is a constant reminder for her not to get too "big for her boots" in her own practice.

Work with your body, not against it :-)

Nadine Fawell said...

Ahhh, so good to know I am not alone! Your lunge issues may be bone related, you know - one hip socket may be angled differently to the other...
Pity we actually need our egos to get us through some bits of life, and can't just have them removed.

Cupcakes & Yoga said...

Here's a funky question, can you do chaturunga with your hands in a fist instead of placing your palms flat on the ground? Early in my practice, my right wrist use to bother me (Carpel Tunnel) and that's what I resorted too and it helped. Now the pain is gone.

Maybe this is an opportunity to come up with another kind of creative, fun sun salutation. Don't keep hurting yourself, you don't want to cause more damage.

may said...

When I was 3 I fractured my elbow, which resulted in a very awkward left elbow allignment. Now, at 24 and an active yoga practioner, I find that there are certain poses - especially poses to do with forearm balances - that I simply cannot do.

I guess it's a matter of acceptance. I work on building strength in my arm and elbows instead of trying too hard and over staining.

Good luck!

Nadine Fawell said...

Oooh, great idea Marilyn - I'm gonna try! Yay! A way to keep my fave pose in the running. And yes, you are right, I already have around 20 different sun salutes, so why not make up a few more...
Hmm, far too many exclamation marks in this post.

Nadine Fawell said...

Thanks May!
I know we all face our challenges, hell, I see it every time I teach, but sometimes I still go a bit stupid. Sigh. ANd as they say - there are thousands of poses, not doing a few shouldn't limit us.

Karen said...

I'm really competitive by nature, so when I started yoga I would try so hard to look just as great as the people around me, if not comparing to the instructor even! (Thank goodness that I'm quite flexible or I'm sure I would be broken everywhere already!) I have learnt through my yoga practice that this is not yoga, and I try not to compete with others, but the thing that I struggle with now is my breath. Having asthma doesn't allow in to breathe in and out for as long as others, so while my body can hold a pose forever, my breath doesn't allow it! So sometimes that results in not breathing (sorry Nadine!) or breathing a lot!

Nadine Fawell said...

What! Not breathing! GASP! Hee hee. It is interesting that those of us whose bodies comply nicely, often struggle with the breath, and then sometimes, those of us with the dodgier bodies find the breath a little easier.

Regina Clare Jane said...

Nadine, I am sorry I am so late with this... it's amazing what yoga teaches us about our bodies and our minds!
I have fairly strong wrists considering I use them all the time- I am a massage therapist. I have yet to feel any wrist pain doing any asana so I guess I ma lucky in that respect. But my darn hamstrings... there's a different story!
I guess we all have something that makes us keenly aware that respect for our bodies and listening to it- or not listening to it- can directly affect us in so many ways. I really feel for you, though, Nadine- I love chaturanga- it's one of my favorites...
I am sure you have tried massage and acupuncture and all the rest?

shinyyoga said...

This post completely reminded me of something my yoga teacher told me when I was doing my training... that was a couple of years ago but I still remember it clear as day.

She was talking about a teacher she knew who was a smoker, who after class would go out and smoke and feel so torn apart - here she was talking about breathing and our beautiful body, but then she was addicted to this horrid smoking habit.

But you know, it's life. I like the odd tipple (and not so odd tiple!), I eat not so fab at times, and my personal practice isn't as great as I'd like due to work... appointments... sleep ins.. and a hectic life.

If anything, I think these hardships and not so perfect mannerisms give you the ability to be at one with your students. After all - you don't stop being a student just because you start to guide others in the practice.

You will be the best wrist teacher around because you're speaking from experience. In my books - that is what's important.

x
(sorry for long post!)

kb said...

Hi Nadine, with you on this one. I can understand that it would be very frustrating to be coming into constant contact with these physical barriers. But you certainly seem to have the right ideas and mindset for dealing with it. It certainly isn't going to keep you from your yoga practice which is really good.

A friend here was having some major wrist problems from typing at a computer all day. She stopped being able to work entirely because of the pain. The doctor had her wearing wrist braces and stopped her from exercise or full motion. That made matters worse and she eventually somewhat overcame the problem by working in the opposite direction and strengthening them through sport training and dance.
I would hope that yoga would in the end be a help even if it did cause immediate pain or discomfort. Probably, there's some middle ground that it sounds like you've wisely finding. Good for you.

Nadine Fawell said...

Thanks Stella!
I love your thoughts, here and on your blog! Bless Mary for linking to you.

Nadine Fawell said...

Hi KB!
Seems I don't have firm grip with the responses...
Anyway, thank you for the kind words. Sounds like your friend realy struggled (tee hee - makes me feel better)
N