I would agree with blogger and yoga teacher Kristen Warren that wrist pain is the most common complaint for new-to-yoga students. My first advice is always: stretch your shoulders! Most wrist pain is due to tight shoulders… funny enough. This article gives detailed explanations and advice regarding the dreaded wrist pain experienced in yoga asana sessions. I’m reblogging from Kristen’s site:
How to avoid Wrist Pain, or deal with it if you’ve got it!
Wrist Range of Motion (ROM):
To start, it is very important to understand the ways in which a person’s wrist can move. To visualize, place your right arm in front of you with your palm facing away from you and move your wrist as I describe the ways to move it.
Bend right hand towards the inside of your forearm or radial bone (hand is moving left) – ABDUCTION
Bend right hand towards the outside of your forearm or ulna bone (hand is moving right) – ADDUCTION
Bend your hand down towards the floor so fingers point down – FLEXION
Bend your hand up towards the ceiling so your fingers point up – EXTENSION
Rotate your wrist so the thumb is midline to the body – PRONATION
Rotate your wrist so the thumb is away from the body – SUPINATION
Now visualize the various poses offered in a typical yoga class: All 4’s, Crocodile, Cobra, Upward Facing Dog, Downward Facing Dog, Crow…just to name a few. Think about what the wrist is doing. With these poses, the wrist is often in a 90˚ “EXTENSION” and is this not when the complaints arise?
In yoga, many times wrist EXTENSION is pretty intense and new people aren’t used to this intensity so it hurts. Think about it, in general, how often do any of us have our wrists in full extension? Umm, not too often. So as long as person doesn’t have a wrist injury, past surgery, or even Carpal Tunnel Syndrome there are a lot of options out there to help alleviate the intensity and also to strengthen the wrist so you’ll be able to do those poses more comfortably.
Props: Wedges, folded towels, or hands placed on edge of a folded mat, will lessen the angle of extension which can alleviate the intensity of the wrist’s pain. There are also “Wrist Assured Gloves” (WAG) which provide support like a brace. And recently these yoga eggs which are a hybrid between a ball and a block also lessen the angle. I’ve seen these eggs advertised in Yoga Journal, and YogaFit offers trainings which incorporate them. Other props change up the hand position. These include small (non-rounded) hand weights or Gripitz or even just creating fists vs. having the wrist in extension is another option. (I’ve found a great selection of these types of props at Dick’s Sporting Goods store).
Choosing Other Pose Options:
Sphinx vs. Cobra/Upward Facing Dog
Hovering Palms in Cobra vs. Cobra with hands pressed in the mat
Dolphin vs. Downward Facing Dog (or use props such as eggs, wedges or towels, straps or chairs)
Focus on Hand Placement and Pressure; Are You/They Actually Doing the Pose Correctly:
- Stack the joints (hands under shoulders) and spread fingers out like “starfish” –and ensure your index finger is pointed forward verses angled out. This distributes the pressure.
- Press down where the fingers join the palms and allow it to continue down towards fingertips with most weight being on the thumb side of the hand, ensure middle fingers are parallel to each other. The thumb side of the hand is stronger than the pinky finger side.
- Engage those leg muscles! When you are in Downward Facing Dog, you aren’t supposed to place all your body weight into the hands; however, lots of people are guilty. Pursue the pose correctly and/or instructors fix their alignment! Exhale as you enter into the pose, relax the head and neck, ears should be between the biceps, shoulders are relaxed and pulling towards the hips, not the ears. And of course, follow the above steps 1 and 2 for the hands.
Daily Strengthening Wrist Exercises:
- Place hands together at “Heart’s Center,” lower palms down as elbows lift. This will help you get used to the “EXTENSION.”
- Make a fist, rotate your fist clockwise 10x and then 10x counterclockwise, end with stretching “Starfish Fingers.”
- Make a fist, palms up and do wrist curls. Rotate palm down, and do “upward” wrist curls. Try first alone and then with hand weight as the wrist strengthens.
Be kind to those wrists. Send them some love. Enlighten yourself and your participants! Enjoy the benefits of practice!
Let me know if this is helpful to you. ~lisa