Do you, or someone you know, feel pain in the wrists during, or after, a yoga class?
Wrist injuries have become a common side-effect in many contemporary yoga classes. Many of these classes incorporate poses such as Plank pose, Four-Limbed Staff pose, and Downward-Facing Dog in order to build arm, shoulder, and wrist strength. However, many yogis try to rush through these transitions in Sun Salutations without paying attention to detail in their alignment.
When you dump your weight into your wrists, it begins to create problems down the road. Spiritually speaking, when you experience wrist issues, it can represent a stubbornness within—it's important to handle problems with ease and flexibility instead.
Practicing proper alignment, repeatedly, can help prevent wrist injuries in the future. You can create correct muscular lift at the wrist, protecting the delicate carpal tunnel. In turn, the effort to work the underside of the forearm, balances the muscle tone between the top and bottom of the forearm.
The next time you are flowing through your favorite sequence, be sure to pay attention to the following cues.
Use every inch of your hand to support your weight. Press into your fingertips, knuckles, and palms with an emphasis on the index finger and thumb, to pull your weight away from the pinkie and heel of the hand (closer to the wrist). By pressing down through the mounds of the fingers, you are also engaging the underside of the forearm.
Use a strong activated core to create a lifting action in Table Top pose, Plank pose, and Downward-Facing Dog. In Plank pose, lift through the space between your shoulder blades up to the sky, press back through your heels, lengthen the back of your neck for a long spine, and squeeze your glutes to prevent lower back tension.
In Downward-Facing Dog, use your core to lift your body up and back through your heels. This does not mean that your heels need to touch the ground, it just means you should send your weight in that direction.
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If you are new to yoga and your wrists have not developed enough flexibility yet, try a wrist wedge in these poses until you are comfortable without it. This prop provides you with a lift of the heels of your hands while shifting more weight to the mounds of your fingers.
If you are using a wedge, place the mounds of your fingers on the floor, and the heels of your hands on the wedge. If you do not want to financially invest in a wedge, try rolling your mat up a couple of inches at the top, placing your wrist on the rolled mat and finger tips on the ground, to give the lift that you need.
If your wrists are already feeling injured or sensitive I recommend the following modifications:
Try forearm variations.
Try forearm variations such as Forearm Plank pose, Sphinx pose, and Dolphin pose instead of regular Plank pose, Cobra pose, and Downward-Facing Dog. Your forearms symbolize attaining goals, so therefore, using this modification is a step toward building more shoulder and core strength to help with your alignment.
You have the option to clasp your hands together, with your elbows aligned directly under your shoulders and your third eye aligned with your wrists, or keep your arms parallel, similar to train tracks with your fingers spread wide and index fingers pointing forward.
In the later variation, make sure that you are still pressing into all parts of your hands and forearms as you use the core to lift weight away from your shoulders. If you have a block, you can also clasp your hands around it, longwise, in these forearm variations.
Rest and heal.
Another option is to skip the intense yoga flow and rest in Child’s pose or, consider taking a Hatha or Yin yoga class, which avoids the constant Chaturanga Dandasana. These stretches can bring more mobility into your wrists and hands. Hold for 5 or 10 breaths, or longer, for each variation.
Clasp your hands together.
Clasp your hands together, straighten arms, and press palms forward and overhead.
Reverse your palms.
From Hero pose or Table Top pose, turn your fingertips toward your knees so that the wrist creases are facing forward. Using mindfulness, begin to lean your weight back toward your heels until you find the perfect balance between tension and ease. Then, keeping the reverse direction of your fingers, turn your palms to face the sky, and press the tops of your hands and fingers into the ground.
Massage your hands.
Place your right thumb in the center of your left hand. Use the remaining four fingers to squeeze into the back of the left hand. Continue this pinching action as your spiral clockwise around your entire palm and up through the wrist. Gently provide pressure to your fingers as your right hands pinches in an upward direction, from the webbing to the fingernails.
Circle your wrists.
In poses such as Warrior II pose or other open arm positions, allow your wrists to find more mobility as you create clockwise and counterclockwise circles with each hand.
Remember to listen to your body on and off the mat. How can you tap into more attention, mobility, and ease to balance your body? By following these simple modifications and tips for preventing wrist pain, you can easily flow through your favorite sequence with confidence.