The delicate intricacies of the wrist joint

Humans spend all their lives on their two feet, walking, standing and running. Arm balances and inversions in a yoga practice challenges the human anatomy by flipping our bodies upside down which work on a different set of muscles altogether to hold up the poses.
The wrist joint is an integral part in this equation – it has to support some of our body weight in an inversion. Looking at it anatomically, the wrist is made up of eight small carpal bones which make up the carpus. These are firmly bound and provide stability and a little bit of movement. The underside (the palm side) of the carpus is slightly concave creating a channel through which tendons, nerves and ligaments pass from the forearm through to the hand – this is the Carpal Tunnel.
The carpus bones link to the ends of the forearm bones: the radius and the ulna, and the five metacarpal bones of the hand. Because of the complex range of movements the wrist and hand can perform, the joint has a crosshatching web of ligaments connecting all these bones so that there can be mobility without losing stability.
For most part of our day, our wrists are only slightly flexed. Our desk-bound jobs leave us with weakened wrist strength and flexibility with hours spent typing away on a keyboard and then with yoga, we are expected to bend our wrists perpendicularly and even support our body weight to an extent.
Here are some simple tips to prevent wrist injury in your yoga practice:

  1. Warm up the wrist with these exercises
  • Padahastasana: Slide the palm facing up under your foot to reverse the action of flexion of the wrist
  • Wrist releases: Flex your wrist towards you, with the palm facing forward and the fingers pointing downwards. Grab your thumb and gently pull back towards you. Hold for a few breaths, continually softening your shoulders down your back and spreading the fingers of your right hand. Move on to the pointer finger, the middle finger, and so on, holding each finger for a few breaths. Your hands will want to scrunch up; don’t let them! Repeat on the second side. Roll out the wrists a few times in each direction to complete the stretch.
  • Wrist rotation: Clench your fists and rotate your wrists in a clockwise direction for 10 time. Repeat for anti-clockwise direction.
  1. Be mindful of the palm placement

When performing asanas, be mindful where the weight is concentrated on. Ideally, the weight should be evenly distributed across the knuckles and not on the heel of the palm.

Of course, always remember the evergreen rule – Listen to your body. Back off when your body is telling you that a certain part is strained and take the time needed to rest and recuperate.
Michelle Ng
200hr weekend Jan’15 batch

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