Wrist Pain in Yoga
There are a variety of yoga poses that can load the wrists. Downward Facing Dog, Upward-Facing Dog, Plank and Chaturanga are among the most common poses, especially in a Vinyasa-style class.
Several bones make up the wrist joint – 13, in fact! These bones work together to provide flexibility and stability to the wrist. As a result, wrist pain can occur in many places, but the most common would be just below the thumb in the small divot that shows up when you spread all your fingers. It is also familiar to experience pain in both the front and back of the wrist.
Yoga Recommendations on How to Reduce Wrist Pain
When starting yoga, there is a common tendency to grip the yoga mat like a bear. This aggressive grip can end up causing pain at the base of the wrist. When you’re in the plank position lowering down to Chaturanga (or half push-up), your elbows need to stay close to your body. Your legs should remain engaged while you lower down to the floor. Proper body positioning will keep your weight distributed throughout the body rather than using only your hands to lower your body.
One of the primary instruction cues that yoga teachers remind students during a weighted wrist pose is to focus on pressing down into the base of the thumb and index finger. This focus helps to take the pressure off of your wrist. Unfortunately, when starting yoga, it’s easy to lift your thumb and index finger off the mat, which causes excess tension and body weight to transfer through your wrist.
Another essential strategy to reduce wrist pain is to activate your core a little more so your body weight shifts away from your wrists. It’s also important not to forget your legs. Activating your legs in any pose (even a handstand) will help you lift your weight out of your hands and spread it more throughout your body.
It can also be helpful to stretch your wrist muscles and opposing movement to help relieve any of the repetitive strain you may feel when practicing yoga.
If yoga students need to reduce or avoid weight-bearing through their wrists, yoga instructors can adapt poses to help reduce wrist strain. These poses could include weight-bearing through the forearms instead of the wrists (e.g.baby cobra instead of upward facing dog, for instance) or using a closed fist (e.g. during Chaturanga) to help maintain the wrist in neutral alignment.
Finally, it may be necessary to transition to a more gentle class style with fewer wrist-loading poses.