As a busy writer and avid yogi, my wrists get a lot of action. Chances are, yours do too. If you practice yoga regularly, it's natural for your wrists get some wear and tear. But keeping your wrists strong and flexible is key to avoiding a yoga related wrist injury. Let's explore some of the ways we can care for our wrists so that we can continue our long and fruitful journey as yogis.
One of the best wrist warm-ups you can practice before stepping onto your yoga mat is a simple wrist circle. To do this, make fists with your hands and gently roll your wrists several times in one direction, and then several times in the other. Getting into the habit of warming up our wrists, just like we do our spine and neck, is important for preventing wrist injuries. It also allows us to be better prepared for any weight-bearing yoga asanas that require wrist support.
Use Forearms and Fists for Support
If your wrists are fatigued, or recovering from an injury, you can always do a hands-free practice by skipping sun salutations, plank, and downward-facing dog. Or better yet, use your fists and forearms instead of your hands and wrists. A good example would be if you were in side plank and your wrists are killing you. Ease on down to your forearms, and prop yourself up with them instead of using your hands. Practice plank pose with your hands in fists from time to time. These simple modifications take a load off those precious wrist joints.
Build Wrist Strength
Certain yoga asanas actually help you build strength in your wrists. Downward-facing dog and chaturanga dandasana are both wrist-strengthening poses. So, the more you mindfully move through sun salutations, the more you’re going to upgrade the health of your wrists, which is bound to prevent injury. (Read on in How to Hold Proper Chaturanga Alignment.)
Modify Your Sadhana as Needed
There are a number of ways you can modify yoga poses to take the pressure off of your hands and wrists. Using props such as yoga blocks, wrist wedges or a chair can all help bring the ground closer to you in an asana like downward dog. There’s nothing wrong with modifying your asana practice, especially if it prevents injury and supports your practice in the long run. Consider the many ways to use your props that might take the pressure off your wrists, bring the ground to you and shift the weight from your arms, hands and wrists to your strong and sturdy leg muscles. (Read more in Different Yoga for Different Days.)
Practice Proper Alignment
Alignment is key when it comes to injury prevention, and that includes wrist injuries. So, get to know your anatomy and alignment in those poses that put a load on your hands and wrists. Your shoulders need to be aligned with your outer wrists in poses like upward-facing dog, chaturanga dandasana, plank pose and other arm balances. Another way to practice good wrist alignment is to engage hasta bandha. This is the hand lock. It’s subtle, but powerful. Come onto all fours and as you press your hands into the floor, pull upwards through the center of your palm, engaging your arms. This moves energy up and takes pressure off the wrists. (Learn more in Why Is Alignment Important to My Yoga Practice?)
Correct Weight Distribution
Balance the distribution of your weight, and you’ll find your wrists are supported by other areas in the body. In downward-facing dog, for example, mindfully bring your weight more into your heels, rather than your hands. Experience how different this feels for your hands and wrists. You’ll also want to make sure your weight is distributed evenly between each hand in every weight-bearing asana. (Learn more in 6 Tips to Maintaing Balance on the Mat.)
Practice on a Stable Surface
Ever done yoga on the beach? How about without a yoga mat or on a slippery rug? I have, and it doesn’t take long to realize these are less than optimal situations if you want to ensure good alignment and wrist support. Shaky foundations equal shaky wrists. So always make sure you do yoga on a high-quality, sticky mat on top of a firm foundation like a hardwood floor. This helps with wrist support as well as proper alignment in general. (Read more in Which Yoga Mat Should I Buy?)
There you have it, seven amazing tips for wrist support, wrist alignment and wrist injury prevention. It's important that you consider these tips and incorporate them into your yoga practice. Nobody wants to be injured or in pain, and no yogi wants to get stuck in the middle of their yoga journey because wrist injuries are holding them back.