With a lot of weight-bearing poses such as Downward-Facing Dog, Upward-Facing Dog, Plank pose, and Handstand, asana practice is not kind to our wrists. The weight combined with the immense range of motion students demand in yoga classes often leads to wrist strain or wrist issues. There are some easy and simple tips to prevent injury to our wrists while practicing yoga.

By following basic guidelines we can avoid injuries and prevent wrist strain, and we can enjoy practice.

Tips to avoid wrist pain in yoga

If you are suffering from a wrist injury you may need to seek treatment from a doctor or physical therapist, but if it’s only mild or occasional soreness you can easily address wrist pain in your yoga practice with the following twelve tips.

1. Bring the ground to you

Downward Dog can be a weight-bearing pose. Instead of placing your palms on the ground, bring the ground to you. Place yoga blocks, wedges, or even a chair under your hands to essentially raise the floor and force your weight out of your wrists. Think of it this way: the higher up you bring your hands, the more your body weight will shift to your legs.

2. Use your fists and forearms

One reason your wrists might hurt during yoga is because of the angle at which your wrist joint is bending. Too much wrist extension during weight-bearing postures can strain and inflame the joint. You can modify just about any pose by making fists or coming onto your forearms instead of using your palms. For example, practice the Dolphin pose instead of Down Dog. You will still get all the benefits of the pose while keeping your wrists safe and pain-free.

3. Bend your knees

In poses like Plank or Downward-Facing Dog, we have a tendency to dump our weight into our hands, especially if we don’t have the core strength to support us. By bending our knees—or even bringing them to the ground—we relieve some of the efforts and it becomes easier to shift our weight back.

4. Learn your alignment

Whenever we are practicing arm balances such as Plank, Chaturanga, Upward-Facing Dog, or similar yoga poses, many of us move our shoulders way past our wrists. Instead, think about aligning the position of the outer shoulder joint with the center of the wrist. This will stack your arm bones and keep you from putting unnecessary pressure on your wrists. Maintaining correct alignment in yoga postures will help to protect your wrists from injury.

5. Engage hasta bandha

Hasta bandha, also known as the hand lock, is a subtle movement with a big impact. Hasta bandha is when you spread your fingers wide on the ground and draw upwards through the center of your palms. This movement helps engage your arm muscles, draws the energy up your arms, and relieves some of the pressure on your wrists. It can be challenging at first, but it can benefit your practice immensely as a lack of strength in this area can lead to wrist problems.

6. Warm-up beforehand

We often warm up our spines with cat pose and cow pose at the beginning of class. We might do neck rolls or stretch gently from side to side. These are all ways to prepare the body for the more intense postures throughout the class. We can do the same for our wrists by doing some wrist stretches. Try making a fist and moving your fist clockwise and then counter-clockwise.

7. Distribute your weight evenly

In Downward-Facing Dog focus on shifting the weight into your heels. In arm-balance poses such as Crow Pose, think about lifting through your core. The more you move your weight out of your wrists, the less repetitive stress there will be, and hopefully, you’ll notice a positive difference.

To prevent wrist pain from yoga, it’s important to be mindful of your hand positioning during poses. In any pose where your palms are on the ground, distribute your weight evenly throughout your hands. Don’t put all or most of the weight on your wrists—work on shifting the weight through your whole hand. To have Your hands rooted down evenly, work on pressing your knuckles and fingertips into your yoga mat.

8. Embrace props and modifications

Props and modifications can be the difference between wrist injuries and wrist freedom. If your wrists are causing you problems, consider dropping a knee on Side Plank or gripping blocks in a handstand. When you use props and modifications you allow yourself to enjoy all the benefits of a pose without experiencing negative and harmful side effects.


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Courtesy / Credit: Yoga Basics

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