Have you ever felt pain while putting weight on your wrists during yoga poses? While doing yoga poses such as Downward Dog, Plank or Handstand you may have felt a pain in your wrists and wondered how to strengthen your wrists and prevent wrist injuries.
The hands are made of 39 muscles working together in order to hold your weight. The top of the arm has the wrist flexors group of muscles which bend the hand at the wrist and the fingers. We tend to have tense wrist flexors due to the over usage.
On the opposite side of the hand, the extensor muscle group, is usually weak due to underuse.
There are several poses and exercises to balance both wrist muscle groups. Here are several ways that I have found useful in my Yoga practice:
- Strengthen your Core – studies demonstrate that a strong core can increase the ability of your rotator cuff muscles which stabilize your shoulders, and decrease weight load on wrists.
Practice core strengthening yoga poses like:
- Boat Pose (Navasana)
- Boat Pose Sequence: 10-20 seconds at first and then slowly hold the pose up to a minute.
Kundalini: Breath of Fire with Stretch Pose
Keep the heels or toes lightly touching the floor.
Hold for 2 minutes while doing:
- Inhale while allowing air and belly to fill the lungs.
- Exhale by quickly pulling the navel point in and up toward the spine as you force the breath out.
- Breathe like this rapidly to 2 to 3 cycles per second.
Avoid this pose if you are pregnant or menstruating!
Strengthen and Engage your Shoulder Rotator Cuffs
When you engage your shoulders, they stabilize your shoulders, and take weight off of your wrists. Try the pose Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II).
Stabilize Your Wrists
Make sure your wrists are shoulder width apart so the weight spreads correctly. Your fingers should be pointing forward instead of out and away. To protect your wrists, more weight should be placed on the heel of the hand while using the fingers pads to spread the weight evenly. The heel of your hand can hold more weight than the outer portion of your hand. Here are some more ways:
Try Wrist Curls facing upwards and downwards. Use Wrist Curl exercises to strengthen the wrist ligaments. Do 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions with two weights, one in each hand. Use a 1-5lb weights (or with a clenched fist).
- Place your wrists over your knees with your palms facing down.
- Bend the wrists up and pause for a second. Then return back to the original position.
- Repeat with the palms facing up.
With any of these exercises, you should never feel any sharp pain, but if you do stop immediately and seek professional help.
On the other hand, by strengthening your entire body including your wrists you are actively preventing injuries and developing strong wrists. Yoga is a great way to identify wrist weaknesses and work towards creating a balance. I hope this article helps you gain understanding about the wrists and you are able to feel comfortable in poses like plank and downward dog!