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Painful wrists during practice

Wrists feeling sore during poses? Yoga expert Adam Bornstein can help.

I’ve been doing hatha yoga for 10 years now, but in the past six months my wrists have begun to hurt during poses like Downward-Facing Dog and Upward-Facing Dog. What can I do to soften the impact on my wrists without removing these poses from my practice?

There are times when you need to take a break from poses that are aggravating your joints. In general, you need to slow down and pay more attention to your body alignment.  Here are some other practices you can do during these periods that will give your wrists time to heal.

Focus on pressing the underside of the knuckles downward and then forward towards the finger pads. This will help to relieve the pressure on the heel of the hand.

Squeeze the finger pads down into the floor to activate the wrist flexor muscles located on the underside of the forearms. This will create a stabilising effect on the wrists.

Actively lift the shoulders up and away from the wrists. Feel all the muscles of your arms draw inward to the bones and pull upward into the shoulders. This will go far to avoid collapsing weight downward into the sensitive wrists.

Use a prop under the heels of the hands such as a rolled up yoga mat or a yoga wedge.

In Upward-Facing Dog Pose, strengthen and lengthen your legs. Place your shoulders above the heel of the hands and not the palms. Move the breastbone forward and dynamically upward before arching the head back.

In Downward-Facing Dog Pose, energetically lift the sitting bones up and away from the wrists and allow the neck and head to lengthen out of the shoulders. Turn the outer armpits towards the floor. The outer hands will be planted down. Balance this by also pressing down and forward through the thumbs and index fingers. Feel as if you are attempting to stretch the floor forward with the hands.

Sometimes it’s the transition between these two poses, moving from one to the other that can cause the wrist pain. Use the power of the legs and the inward movement of the lower abdominal area as you transition. Breathe well and include Savasana in every session.

Adam Bornstein and his partner Akash are the founders of Radiant Light Yoga on the Sunshine Coast, QLD (www.radiantlightyoga.com). They run courses to train teachers and yoga therapists as well as classes, workshops, retreats and personalised sessions.