3 Stretches to Help Achy Wrists and Prevent Carpal Tunnel
I meet a lot of people, particularly women, who have wrist pain during yoga or lifting. This pain can actually impact a person's ability to complete a workout or limit a person's ability to do poses like crow, handstand, or even down dog.
Tips to Prevent Wrist Aches and Carpal Tunnel
- Release wrists with stretches after standing on your hands or performing actions that demand repeated flexion of the wrists.
- Avoid poses that demand deep flexions on days when your wrists are flaring up. A lot of wrist pain comes from inflammation, and stretching will not help reduce that inflammation. If you are experiencing sudden pain impacting your ability to perform certain activities, just skip them for the day. Typically, wrist pain comes and goes, and you can do these activities on days when you are not experiencing a flare-up.
- Take an anti-inflammatory if your wrist pain is extreme. But, be warned, anti-inflammatories can mask the pain (duh!), so it's best to still avoid demanding postures until you are well enough to complete them sans medicine.
- Try a yoga wedge if you are repeatedly experiencing wrist pain during flexion in your yoga class. The wedge lifts the heel of your hands a touch higher than your fingers, taking some of the flexion out of the wrists.
- Even without a wedge, try to lift weight out of the heels of your hands when holding poses such as down dog. This is particularly important if you are practicing on a soft surface where the wrists have tendency to sink in. In fact, if you're practicing yoga on grass or sand, it's best to avoid long holds on the hands.
Three poses to stretch out achy wrists:
Gorilla Pose (Padahastasana):
Come standing with your feet hips width distance apart. Bend your knees as you fold forward, bending as much as you need to firmly touch the ground with your hands. Lift your toes, and slide your hands under the soles of your feet, palms facing up, and fingers pointing toward the heels. Slide your hands all the way under until your toes can massage your wrist creases. Hold here, wiggling your toes if it feels good, for up to twenty breaths.
Chicken Dance Pose:
Okay, this is not an official term, but you'll see why I use it. This can be done standing or seated. Extend the arms beside the body, bend the elbows, and wiggle your wrists up into your armpits. The palms should face out, fingers pointing down toward hips. As you lift your chest, you will feel the backs of your hands stretching out. Hold for up to twenty breaths.
This can be done standing or seated. Reach your right hand out in front of you, parallel to the ground. Flex your wrists back, fingers pointing the ground, palm facing forward. Spreading your fingers wide, gently pull back on your thumb. Hold for a few breaths, continually softening your shoulders down your back and spreading the fingers of your right hand. Move on to the pointer finger, the middle finger, and so on, holding each finger for a few breaths. Your hands will want to scrunch up; don't let them! Repeat on the second side. Roll out the wrists a few times in each direction to complete the stretch.
The good news is yoga actually strengthens the wrists. Down dog, handstand, arm balancing, and all poses where the hands are bearing weight are great for your wrists. Working on releasing the wrists after you practice and remembering to abstain from these poses on days when your wrist pain is too much will help keep you safe.
Photo 1 courtesy of Shutterstock.
All other photos courtesy of Bethany Eanes.