In an ideal world, you would leave your yoga class or finish your at-home yoga session feeling relaxed, de-stressed and at peace with yourself and your body. At times, though, you can leave with aches and pains. One particular problem area is the wrist. Think about it: after spending most of your life carrying your weight on your feet, you slip into Upward-Facing Dog, Handstand, the Crow or a similar pose that requires you to support yourself on your hands. Your hands and wrists just aren’t used to this kind of challenge. Working on flexibility, strength and alignment can help.
Place the palms of your hands together in front of your chest to stretch your wrists. Press your hands toward your belly button, while keeping your palms touching each other. By increasing the flexibility in your wrists, you make it easier to get your shoulders over your hands in poses where your hands support all or part of your weight. You can perform this stretch periodically throughout the day, for about a minute each time.
Kneel on your hands and knees and place your hands on the floor in front of you to build up strength. Place a little bit of weight onto your hands and hold the position for about a minute. Over time, you can place more weight on your hands by holding Plank Pose. Remember that yoga is not a race. Give yourself time to build strength gradually. Don’t immediately jump into poses that require you to support your body weight on your hands.
Employ blocks, foam wedges or similar props, or change the position of your hands when in you’re in class. Ask your teacher for foam wedges that allow you to place your hands on an angle that is more comfortable for the wrists. Or grasp dumbbells or support yourself on your fists, instead of placing your hands directly on the floor. The first time you use a prop or change your hand position, be cautious. Your alignment will be different, and you might feel a bit uncoordinated at first.
Distribute your weight equally on the heels of your hands as well as on the base of your fingers. Spread your fingers and extend them away from your palms. Just as you wouldn’t walk around on your heels all day, you can’t support yourself on the heels of your hands.
Recruit other muscles to help your wrists. As you press into the floor with the base of your fingers, feel your forearms pulling up toward your elbows. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged. All these small movements help engage other muscles that are larger and stronger. By feeling your weight lifting out of your wrists, your wrists won’t be as compressed and will be less likely to hurt.
- If you experience wrist pain when you are not doing yoga, eliminate the poses that strain your wrists to give them a chance to recover. If the pain persists, consult a sports medicine specialist or other health care professional who is familiar with the physical demands of yoga.
Kat Black is a professional writer currently completing her doctorate in musicology/ She has won several prestigious awards for her research, and has had extensive training in classical music and dance.