I envy people who look back on high school with nostalgia. Tainted by bullying, my memories of my all-girls high school aren’t so fond but one thing I am eternally grateful for is the belief instilled in us that women can do and be anything.

That and the ability to administer a decent handshake.

You can tell a lot about someone from a handshake

For example, I bet you’ve experienced the arm-pumping, knuckle crunching grip of the domineering alpha male; and the limp wrist and curled fingers proffered (reluctantly) by Timid Tim or Nervous Natalie.

What does your handshake say about you?

Specifically, what does your handshake say about your grip strength? How about the mobility of your wrist and the dexterity of your fingers? Could you benefit from strengthening your hands and wrists?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record… 

We spend a large portion of our days hunched over, accumulating tension in the upper body

It’s not only typing, texting and mouse-clicking that are to blame. Driving, cooking and bending over to care for young children add fuel to the fire. And, depending on the nature of your yoga practice, you may be reinforcing or exacerbating these patterns of tension, imbalance and weakness every time you roll out your mat.

But I thought yoga was good for you?

It is. But like most things, it’s not perfect. There’s a lot of pushing and holding (think plank, downward dog and chaturunga) but no pulling. So, unless you are getting this via other forms of physical activity such as TRX, Reformer Pilates, strength training, rowing or rock climbing, you’ll likely lack strength and range of motion in your hands and wrists and, possibly, your arms, shoulders and upper back.

When the larger muscles are weak, the smaller muscles have to work even harder to compensate. Poor form (as a result of muscular weakness) coupled with repetitive movement can lead to injury… which is so much worse than a bad handshake.

If you struggle with weight-bearing exercises like plank, check out the free resources below. We’ve created two videos to help you increase mobility and strengthen your hands, wrists, forearms and shoulders.

1. Release Your Wrists

Five simple exercises you can do anywhere, anytime. No props or special yoga clothes required.

2. Yoga to Strengthen Your Hands and Wrists

Develop a new appreciation for your hands as you stretch and strengthen, preparing your body for weight-bearing postures such as plank and downward facing dog.

Two firm blocks will help you get the most out of this sequence.

As always, please be mindful of any injuries or limitations you may be working with. If something doesn’t feel productive or wise, back off or stop and seek professional advice.

Discover more in the Yoga for Modern Life series, designed to alleviate common aches and pain associated with prolonged sitting and use of technological devices.

 – Georgina –

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