01 May How to Avoid Wrist Pain in Yoga
As humans we don’t walk around on our hands all day, we have feet for that. Feet and legs that are designed to carry all of our weight. But when it comes to yoga, we ask our bodies to spend a lot of time on our hands. And not surprisingly, that can take its toll if we’re not careful. Like all forms of movement that’s repeated again and again, there can be issues with being on our wrists all the time. But a lot of this can be overcome by being prepared and knowing how to take care of yourself while still coming to your mat on the regular.
Warm up is really important
Would you try to come into full splits without warming up and lengthening your hamstrings? We hope that most of you said no to that question. The same goes for bearing a lot of weight on our hands. We need to warm them up. The muscles in the hands and forearms are going to support your wrists during your practice and you can do a few quick things before class to ensure you’re ready to go.
To start, take your arms out in front of you and simply open and close your hands as quick as you can. You want to make a tight fist and then expand the fingers as wide as they can go. If you do this for a minute or two, you should really start feel your forearms burn, this is good.
After that we can open up the wrists and forearms too. 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.
One more you can do is from table top aka hands and knees. Instead of facing your hands forward like you would during cat and cow, take the fingers to face the sides of the room and gently rock side to side a few times. Then take the fingers to face your knees and rock forward and back a few times. You can also take the backs of the hands to the ground working to open the top of the wrists a little more.
Learn proper technique when weight bearing on the hands
Just like our feet, our wrists work better when the weight is distributed in the correct areas of the hands. Imagine if we tried to stand on our toes the whole class? Things would be hard, right? Well, when we put all the weight in the heels of our hands, we’re putting extra load on our wrists and making things harder than they should be. When we focus our weight and attention into the thumb and forefinger, the body will naturally distribute weight a little more evenly through the arms. You can do this in every shape where your hands are on the ground. Try it out and notice the difference you can feel.
Be ok with taking variations
Once we realise just how much pressure we’re putting on our wrists, it can be nice to embrace variations every now and then to give them a break – before pain arises. You can try coming into finger tips or even forearms (hello dolphin) in a lot of poses. And you’ll be surprised how changing how we do things here and there actually builds a lot more awareness and strength when we return to the natural way of coming into a pose.
Listen to your body and respond accordingly
It’s common in yoga to feel a pain or something strange and just assume it’s something wrong with us and push through. If you’re feeling pain in a pose, especially in the hands and wrists, don’t push past it. Allow yourself to scale back, take a modification, take some weight off the hands, change a shape, or even allow yourself a day or two off the hands. It’s about longevity remember, yoga is fundamentally about improving our lives, not our handstands.
Stretching and release makes a difference
So now that we know we need to warm up the hands are forearms to get strong wrists, it makes sense that if we’re feeling tight in these areas, that could in term be impacting our wrists as well. If your forearms are really tight, it’s a great idea to work into them with some yoga tune up balls, or even some self massage just with your hands. Like any other part of the body, they can hold tension and that tension can be released if we attend do it.
Ask for help
If you have a pain or sensation you don’t know what to do with or you simply want to make sure you’re in the correct alignment in a pose, ask your teacher for some guidance or send us an email. We’re here to help.