Protect your wrists by paying attention to alignment and maintaining body awareness.
Yoga practitioners who suffer from wrist pain, either chronic or temporary, do not have to give up their asanas just yet. One of the most common causes of chronic wrist pain is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). CTS is often caused by repetitive activities, and can be aggravated by bending and applying pressure on the wrists.
In yoga, two poses that tend to cause the most discomfort in sufferers of CTS are Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) and Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana).
However, with proper alignment and awareness of your body’s limitations yoga is not only possible for CTS sufferers; yoga can improve CTS, according to the American Medical Association.
In 1998, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a report on a trial conducted to determine if a yoga-based stretching regimen could improve CTS. The study followed two test groups of CTS sufferers—one group who practiced 11 yoga poses, twice a week for eight weeks, and one group who were only given wrist splints. The study found that those in the yoga group experienced significant improvement in grip strength and less wrist pain.
The 11 yoga poses, each held for 30 seconds and then repeated, were:
- Sitting with extension of the trunk (Dandasana)
- Hands in prayer position (Namaste)
- Arms extended overhead (Urdhva Hastasana)
- Arms extended overhead with fingers interlocked (Parvatasana)
- Arms interlocked in front of the body (Garudasana)
- Chair twists (Bharadvajasana)
- Standing, Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
- 90-Degree forward bend to wall (Half Uttanasana)
- Arms extended overhead with palms together in prayer position (Virabhadrasana 1, arms only)
- Dog pose with chair, with special emphasis on hand placement (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
- Hands joined in prayer position behind the back (Namaste)
Even if you are diligent in practicing these 11 poses, it is important to always focus on proper alignment and awareness of your body’s conditions. If you are inclined to work harder poses, such Downward-Facing Dog, into your sequence, consider implementing a modification, such as relieving pressure on your wrists by imagining pushing your weight through the ends of your fingertips when they are on the floor.
For a different Downward-Facing Dog Pose modification, make your yoga strap into a loop and hang it from both door knobs on a door. Step through the loop, face away from the door, and then practice the pose with the strap around the lower thighs, which takes some of the weight off your wrists.