Easy Yoga for Hand Arthritis

Fitness expert Peggy Cappy shares her simple but effective yoga for arthritis program.

Bonnie Siegler

When yoga teacher and author Peggy Cappy, 62, began having hand and wrist pain, she suspected the culprit was osteoarthritis—the same joint disease that had plagued family members. But rather than accept the pain, she turned to what she knows best and developed a yoga program to improve joint flexibility and ease discomfort. "A person may not want to move for fear that the pain will increase," says Peggy, creator of PBS's "Yoga for the Rest of Us" DVD series. "But the best thing to do is to move that painful joint in a gentle and mindful way." Here, she shares hand and wrist stretches from her DVD, "Easy Yoga for Arthritis."

Wrist Rotation
Extend your arms in front of you. Working from your wrists, slowly rotate your hands outward in circles. Repeat 8-10 times. Then reverse, rotating your hands inward in circles 8-10 times.

Back-of-the-Hand Stretch
Extend your arms in front of you and lift your palms up, facing outward. Slowly pull your palms back to gently stretch the back of your hands. Then lower your palms to stretch the front of your hands. Alternate back and forth 8-10 times.

Joint/Finger Stretch
Hold your hands in front of you, palms forward. Slowly curl your fingers inward, to form a gentle fist. Then, slowly uncurl your fingers like a fern unfolding, until your fingers are straight. Slowly curl and uncurl your fingers 8-10 times. "It's a movement we don't usually make," notes Peggy. "But it's effective for gently moving all of the joints in your hands."

Wrist Stretch
Hold your hands in front of you, palms up. Curl your fingers in toward your palms. Then bend your wrists forward while uncurling your fingers and bending your wrists back. "This is a gentle, simple movement that increases the circulation in your hands and wrists," says Peggy.

Finish by placing your hands in your lap.

October 2012