Pain-Free Practice: The Importance of Wrist Mobility for Yoga

Mar 12, 2024 3:07:39 PM | Renew Pain-Free Practice: The Importance of Wrist Mobility for Yoga

Improve your yoga practice by enhancing wrist mobility & preventing discomfort. Strengthen muscles, manage pain, & enjoy a healthier, pain-free experience!

Yoga is a transformative practice that brings harmony to the mind and body. However, the journey to mastering yoga poses can sometimes be hindered by wrist discomfort. The wrist is subject to potential overuse injuries in yoga because of the amount of time we spend putting our weight into our hands. Renew Wellness Physiotherapist and Midtown Yoga member, Samantha April helps us explore techniques and modifications to prevent wrist discomfort while enhancing wrist and grip strength.

Understanding the Wrist

To better understand and prevent wrist discomfort and injuries, it’s important to understand the anatomy of the wrist. The wrist, a pivotal joint in yoga, often bears the brunt of our weight during practice. It is primarily controlled by the forearm muscles—the extensors on the outer elbow and flexors on the inside of the elbow. But we can’t forget the role that the shoulder and hand play in preventing excessive reliance on the wrists. It’s important to respect all of the directions that the wrist moves and then work in those directions and load to strengthen appropriately. 

Common Reasons for Wrist Strain and Injury:

  1. Excessive Load or Overuse: Engaging in frequent and intense weight-bearing poses like downward dog, plank and handstands can overload the wrists. This strain increases when proper weight distribution is neglected, potentially leading to discomfort and injury.
  2. Lack of Wrist Mobility: The intricate movements required for poses like push-ups demand a substantial range of wrist mobility. Lack of mobility forces the wrist into unnatural positions, contributing to stress and potential injury.
  3. Muscle Weakness: Insufficient muscular strength poses a challenge in supporting the body during yoga practice. Strengthening the wrists is crucial for stability, preventing unnecessary strain. Building resilience in the forearm muscles enhances the body's ability to withstand the demands of various poses.
  4. Pushing Through Pain: Ignoring signals of discomfort or pain and continuing with challenging poses can exacerbate existing injuries or give rise to new ones. Listening to the body's cues and modifying activities accordingly is key to preventing long-term damage and promoting overall wrist health.
  5. Incomplete Warm-up: Rushing into a yoga session without a thorough warm-up denies the wrists the preparation they need for upcoming movements. An inadequate warm-up hampers blood circulation and flexibility, leaving the wrists susceptible to stress and potential injuries. Prioritizing a comprehensive warm-up routine sets the foundation for a safe and fulfilling practice.

Stretching and Mobility Exercises

To ensure optimal wrist health, it is essential to include stretching and mobility exercises in your routine.

Click here to watch Dr. Sam April demonstrate her top exercises for enhancing flexibility and mobility.

  1. Wrist Extension Mobilizations - These are great to mix into your warm-up routine before jumping into a yoga class. Cross one hand on top of the other flat on the floor and rock from one side to the other on your wrists. You can use a block to modify this stretch if putting weight into your wrists is too much.
  2. Floor Flexor Stretch - Don’t forget to warm-up your wrist flexors prior to weight bearing poses. Sit down on your mat and place both of your hands palm down behind you. You can gently ease into this by rocking into each of your hands.
  3. Wrist Flexor and Extensor Stretches - A common way to stretch your flexors and extensors is to extend your arm in front of you with your palm down. Use your opposite hand to gently bend your wrist farther until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearm. Simply flip your hand to stretch your flexors on the inside of your elbow.  

Modification tip: Roll the top of your mat or place towels under your hands for extra padding if wrist extension is a painful part of your practice. 

You can also modify different poses to fit your practice and wrist strength, like adding blocks to downward dog or modifying side plank by bending the knees. Don’t be afraid to talk to your yoga teacher before or after class to learn different modification techniques!

Remember, this is your practice so take what you need and leave what you don’t. The journey is not just about mastering poses, but also understanding and nurturing your body. By incorporating these stretches and mobility exercises, you can spend less time focusing on discomfort and pain and more time being present and mindful in your practice. Strengthen your wrists with Renew Wellness, empower your practice at Midtown Yoga, and enjoy the transformative benefits of yoga.

Renew Wellness

Written By: Renew Wellness