Giving the nature of the yoga poses, wrist pain is a common thing in yoga practice. So why the pain and what to do to protect your wrists?
To try and understand what’s happening, let’s have a look at the anatomy of the forearm and wrist.
Joints stay healthy by movement. There is a gel-like susbtance in the joint that remains fluid by movement and if you stop moving the articulation, the gel will slowly harden and in the long run limit your range of motion. So by flexing your wrists to 90 degrees and supporting your body with the wrists, you are keeping them healthy and mobile. But the same movements make you more vulnerable for injuries if not performed correctly.
The wrist joint is a complex joint that connects the forearm and the hand. It allows a great range of movement as the hand is capable of flexion/extension, pronation/Supination and lateral deviation (towards the Ulna or the Radius). The wrist iteself is made of eight small carpal bones that are firmly bound together and forms the Carpus. The forearm is made of two bones, the Ulna and the Radius. The Radius is the bone that runs from your elbow to the thumb side of your forearm. It has a broad connection to the wrists at the carpal bones. The Ulna runs towards your little finger but is connected to the wrist by a cartilaginous disc. This structure reduces the pressure on the Ulna and allows the Radius to cope with more force load. This means that you need to avoid putting too much pressure of the oustide edge of your palm and wrist, and distribute the weight more evenly on the palm.
Let’s take one of Yoga’s basic pose as an example: Adho Mukha Svanansana (Downward Facing Dog). Like in many other poses in yoga, your hands are about shoulder width apart which can easily result in collapsing on the outside edge of your palm.
So how do you avoid wrist pain?
- Ground your palms into the mat. What that means is actually that you need tog round the index finger and the thumb firmly onto the mat. We often think about externally rotating the shoulders in Downward Facing Dog but we forget to create a slight pronation (internal rotation) of the forearm to really press the index finger and the thumb down
- Build strength in your forearms muscles
- Always warm-up before practice
- Listen to your body: if you feel pain, your body is telling you something is wrong. Try a modification of the pose (in Adho Mukha Svanasana, you could come down to your elbows for example to Makarasana, Dolhin pose) and give your wrists a rest.
I find this image quite helpful in how to ground the palms onto the mat:
In the long run, learn the foudation, build strength and be mindfull in your practice, you will come a long way!
Notes on Carpal tunnel Syndrome:
The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that causes weakness, pain, and other symptoms. It occurs when the median nerve is pressed or squeezed at the wrist. Please consult your physician if you suspect Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or if you wrist pain does not go away.
Kali – 200Hr weekday – November 2014