As humans, we don’t walk around on our hands all day, we have feet for that. But in poses such as Dog, Plank and Handstand, your hands carry a lot of the weight. When it comes to weight bearing combined with the immense range of motion demanded in Yoga, your wrists can undergo a lot of strain. But unsurprisingly, there are some easy and simple tips to prevent wrist injury while practising. Like with all forms of movement you just follow some basic guidelines to enjoy an injury-free practice. It’s all about being prepared and knowing how to take care of yourself while still coming to your mat on the regular.
Warm up gently
Do you often find you have sore wrists when practising Yoga? The answer can simply be to warm up gently before placing your full weight on your wrists. It may sound logical, but many overlook this simple advice. Warming up is a necessity for everyone. And as you get older, or if you have a history of wrist issues, you must warm up even more gently.
Warming up not only improves lubrication of joints but also strengthens the adjoining muscles and improves the local blood flow. You can do this by alternately making a tight fist and then expanding the fingers as wide as they go. If you do this for a minute or so, you should really start to feel your forearms burn, this is good.
Warming up also prepares your body for opening up. Keeping your arms out in front, make a fist. Then simply point your knuckles to the ground and then up towards the sky, continue a few times. You might start to feel the front of your wrists open up.
The classical Sun Salutation is a very effective way to ensure that your body and your wrists are warmed up properly. But if you need an extra warm up for your wrists, keep your knees on the ground and instead of doing the plank and dog poses, turn your fingers to face the sides of the room and gently rock side to side a few times. This will prepare you to move on to bearing the full weight on your hands of these postures. You can also take the backs of your hands to the ground working to open the tops of the wrists a little more.
Test your range of movement
There are many techniques that will help to strengthen your wrists. But is it a weakness or a lack of mobility that’s making you uncomfortable? Do you find it difficult to flatten your hand to the floor? Well, it could be a low range of movement that’s causing the problem. To check your range of extension, lower onto all fours and place your hands, palms on the floor, directly below your shoulders with your wrists at a ninety degree angle. If you feel any weakness or discomfort in this position, it’s advisable to work on your range of mobility before building strength. Try doing some mobility exercises for your wrists and notice the difference you can feel.
Relieve your wrist pain in Downward Facing Dog
Engage your legs and try coming down onto your forearms (hello dolphin) in downward facing dog to reduce the amount of weight that is transferred to your hands. When you do come up onto your hands, make sure there is an external rotation of your upper arm bones and that you’re pulling your shoulders down your back. One technique for relieving wrist pain when you take a break is to try pressing your fingers into the inside corners of your hands – the place between your thumb and pointer finger.
Listen to your body and rest when you need to
Another option is to skip the Yoga flow that includes Chaturanga Dandasana and rest in child’s pose instead. Allow yourself to rest there for 5 or 10 breaths or longer if you need it. You can even do a quick stretch by clasping your hands together, straightening your arms and pressing your palms forward and up overhead. If you can make it to a Hatha or Yin class, you might find you learn some stretches that bring more mobility into your wrists and hands.
Practise on a stable foundation
So there’s a very good reason why most Yoga mats are on the thin side and that’s because thick cushioning causes unstable ground. If you like a thicker mat to protect your knees, consider using a thinner mat and folding it under your knees or using a folded towel. The bamboo flooring we have at the studio and the mats we choose to practise on were chosen specifically for their combination of stability and rebound effect in sustainable fabrics.
Avoid putting all the weight into the ‘heel’ of your hand
If you try to press the knuckle of your index finger firmly into the ground it will avoid dumping all the pressure into your wrist bones. To exaggerate that effect, you could try going into downward dog and lifting the ‘heel’ of your hand off the floor so that the weight is supported by your knuckles, and you should find that there is zero wrist pain.