Sore wrists in plank, down dog and arm balances are common for many yoga practitioners. For most of us we spend a lot of our working day in forward bends with our wrists and arms in unchanging positions. Wrist pain is partly caused by stiffness in the wrists, but can also be caused by postural habits of our upper back and shoulders. Shoulder rotations and chest opening movements will therefore also have effect on the pain reduction in the wrist joints.
If you experience sore wrists in yoga, practice, as always, with kindness to yourself and make adjustments to your poses in order to alleviate the pain. Ahimsa or non-violence to the self and others is one of the basic principles of yoga. Working within the range of your abilities and limitations is conducive to a healthy and healing yoga practice.
Tips to reduce wrist pain when practicing yoga
Check the following:
1. Practice your planks, down dog and arm balances on a hard surface. Soft yoga mats or fluffy carpets let the heels of your wrists sink, a cause for more pain.
2. Plant the entire palm on the mat and stretch the fingers. Air under you hands can aggravate the wrist! Shift the weight evenly into all of the joints of the hand and fingers, moving the concentrated weight away from the heel of your palm. Use your hands and fingers like snow-shoes; achieve maximum connection to the floor.
Use any of these 5 modifications:
1: Elevate the heel of your wrists, by placing your palms on a folded hand towel, a wedge or a block with the fingers sloping downward.
2: Bend your elbows during plank to help move the strain away from the wrist area.
Elbows must bend backward (toward the toes)
and not out to the sides of your body. Keep your elbows in line with your wrists.
3: Bend your knees and lower them to the floor! This modification in plank and down dog, moves the weight out of the wrists and into the legs.
4: Bring your forearms and elbows onto the floor, when practicing plank and down dog. This will help to strengthen the shoulder girdle, which will eventually contribute to reduced wrist pain.
5: Plant your fists instead of palms on your mat. This modification takes the weight completely out of the wrists and helps strengthen it.
Complement your practice with:
1. Notice and adjust your weight distribution according to the sensations in your wrists. Take rests when needed.
2. Practice wrist and shoulder rotations in between poses that are challenging your wrists.
3. Practice chest-opening exercises during your working day like:
- a. Interlacing your fingers behind your back and rolling shoulders backwards or
- b. Lift elbows in front of body with hands touching, then open and shut elbows,
while keeping these in line with the shoulders.
4. Stretch wrists by:
- Lifting wrists in cat or dog pose. Lift the heel of the palm then lower it. Repeat till tiredness sets in.
- Hands in prayer pose (anjali mudra) in front of chest and lower hands towards the belly, pressing fingers and heels of hands together.
Final note: If wrist pain still persists, please contact your relevant health professional for further investigation and don’t forget to let your yoga teacher know what the best outcome and treatment is for the healing process.