How to Cure Numbness Through Yoga

Everybody knows what it feels like to sit too long in one position and have a foot “fall asleep” or become numb. This tingling, or loss of feeling, may occur anywhere on the body, and can result from a variety of causes. However, it is most commonly found in the extremities – the hands, feet, toes, and fingers. Numbness is usually caused by nerve damage, or a lack of blood supply to a part of the body, but it may also result from inflammation, injuries, infections, strokes, diabetes, and tumors.

Seeing a doctor to rule out life-threatening illnesses, and prevent further damage, is especially important when dealing with numbness. However, the everyday problems that result from poor posture or a lack of blood supply may be managed through a good program of Hatha Yoga. Numbness in the neck, feet, and hands is often accompanied by anxiety or muscle spasms and often responds well to the gentle stretches and relaxation that Yoga offers.

Numbness in the hands and arms is frequently the result of bad posture or sleeping in a less than optimum position. When muscles that support the head become tight and contract, blood flow to the hands and arms slows down, causing tingling and loss of sensation. Repetitive stress injuries, and carpal tunnel syndrome, can occur as a result. Through Yoga poses – such as neck stretches, chin tucks, pelvic tilts, and back stretches – help to reduce numbness and restore the blood supply. Downward Facing Dog, a posture that lengthens the neck and spine, is especially effective.


Nerve compression causes numbness in the hands. Carpal tunnel, the most common type of nerve compression and hand numbness, according to the University of Chicago Center for Peripheral Neuropathy, often follows repetitive motion activities. When you repeat a motion, especially one that puts your hands in an unnatural position or that causes abnormal stress, you develop microscopic tears in the tendons and ligaments. Swelling develops in the injured area, which compresses the nerves and affects their normal functioning. High blood glucose levels in diabetes can damage nerves all over the body; 60 to 70 percent of diabetics develop some type of neuropathy, the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse reports. Some chemotherapy drugs can cause numbness from Raynaud’s disease, a type of vasospasm; alcoholism also damages nerves and can lead to numbness.

When to Exercise

Exercise can help some but not all type of numbness in your hands. The main risk of exercising a damaged area is the possibility of increasing the damage. In many cases, doctors recommend resting an irritated area rather than exercising it and risking further damage. Once the swelling and irritation subside and the damage begins to heal, gentle range-of motion exercises can keep the area from becoming stiff and difficult to use. To know what type of exercises to do to treat numbness requires a knowledge of which nerve is damaged and how moving your hand might affect it. Only do exercises your doctor or physical therapist recommend.

Types of Exercises

Tendon gliding or nerve gliding exercises help move the tendons and nerves into their correct positions, by gently stretching them. Nerve gliding exercises, such as curling your wrist and fingers toward your body, then opening them fully and extending them, followed by bending the elbow, could help ulnar nerve entrapment. Nerve-gliding exercises can help the median nerve move more smoothly through the carpal tunnel and under the transverse carpal ligament in some cases. But it can make things worse in others, by overstretching or irritating the nerve, cautions. Stretching your arms and fingers frequently might help numbness in some cases. If you have Raynaud’s disease, which causes vasospasm of the arterial blood vessels that causes decreased blood flow to an area, wiggling or massaging your fingers or hands frequently can help keep the circulation moving.

Wrist Extension Stretch

Keeping your wrist and hand strong can increase blood flow. Stand with your affected arm out in front of you with your palm facing the ground. Your elbow should be straight; your arm should be in line with your shoulder. Take your opposite hand and position it on top of your hand. Gently bend your wrist forward so that your fingers are pointing toward the ground. Stretch as far as you can comfortably go. Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds. Relax and repeat two times. Complete this exercise two to three times each day for best results.



Other Options

In some cases, treating hand numbness depends more on what not to do rather than on exercises. The solution could be as simple as not leaning on your elbows, if you have numbness in your fingers caused by ulnar nerve compression. Proper hand positioning when you do repetitive motions can help prevent re-injury. Wearing a brace, using an arm rest or changing your chair height can help prevent compression at your wrist or in your hand. Lowering your blood glucose levels can improve diabetic neuropathy.


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