By Sara Picken-Brown
One of the positives to come from being in isolation is the ability to focus and commit to a physical practice with more consistency and determination than you have been able to prior. This is a wonderful opportunity to dive deeply into your Yoga practice and create lasting and real changes. However, as often happens when we increase our physicality load or we start something all together new, the body lets us know it is not happy by presenting with pain and niggely complaints. This can really put a dampener on new found enthusiasm and sometimes can become a real block to our progress. It need not be the case, we simply need to adapt and overcome.
In this post and accompanying video, we will go through some great ways to manage one of the most common issues that presents frequently in many a new and seasoned, yogis journey (mine included). This complaint can periodically crop up whenever we start attempting new postures or ways of progressing our practice. It is also something I am seeing a lot of recently in classes with students. The dreaded Wrist Pain.
Wrist pain is usually caused by a lack of conditioning and strength in the arms and shoulder girdle relating to holding ones body weight in postures like ‘chatururanga’, ‘Adho Much Svanasana’-DownDog, ‘Bakasana’-Crow or ‘Vashistasana’-Side plank. It can also be directly related to lack of strength or activation endurance through the core. You may be able to do a kazillion sit-ups but holding a solid and aligned high plank for 10 full breaths may be another thing entirely. So look at where your possible challenges, potential weaknesses may be and begin to work with these so you can turn your weakness into future strengths. Look at your environment. How thick is the mat you are using? If it is a thicker mat we tend to find a lot of movement created at the wrist when baring load and this micro movement over time can really cause issues. Are you on a carpet or hard floor, again carpet has more give than a hard surface, so look at this as a possible cause. If all is ‘solid’ in your environment then let us begin to work with your wrist pain and modify where necessary so that you continue to create positive movement patterns in the body while building that essential strength in progressive stages. As your overall strength improves you will begin to see your whole practice flourish.
The following wrist mobility and care plan can be used as your warmup prior to your daily practice or anytime you feel your body needs a little love and attention.
You will need:
2x yoga blocks OR 2x hand towels rolled up
2 x 1kg hang weights OR 2 x 200ml bottles of water (or similar)
The Program: Hands
- Fist Circles
Make 2 fists and holding the in front of your body begin to circle them clockwise and anticlockwise (10-20 times each direction)
- Prayer Palms
Pressing the palms together so you feel your chest engage, begin pressing down on the right palm to full extension toward the right and repeats to the left (4-6 times)
- Prayer Palm Domes
Pressing the palms in prayer mudra so you feel the chest engage and then press the pads of the fingers together, as you do this begin to lift the centre of the palms away from each other. This replicated the feeling of your hands on the floor in all the major positions and will develop the small muscles around the in the palm of the hands.
- Finger Splay
Make a flat paddle shape with your hands, fingers together, then splay the fingers apart as far as they will go (repeat 10-20 times)
The Program: Arms & Shoulders
- Forearms Stretch
Extend the right arm in front of your shoulder fingers pointing down, gentle draw the finger tips toward the body using the left hand. HOLD for 5 breaths. REPEAT with fingers pointing to the sky. HOLD for 5 breaths. REPEAT on the left arm.
- Extended Fist Flex & Extend
Hold the arms straight, palms up, directly to the side from the shoulders. Then make a fist with the hands. Curl the fist up to the sky then reverse to curl to the floor. REPEAT 5-10 times.
- Setup for your major postures that impact your wrist alignment and mobility. (see the video at the bottom of the article for more tips)
For all your ‘chatururanga’, ‘Adho Much Svanasana’-DownDog, ‘Bakasana’-Crow or ‘Vashistasana’-Side plank, feel free to modify or use a prop where possible until you have build the strength and mobility through the wrist to relieve the pain. Additionally, pain management techniques are also important to mention here, use an ice pack after practice to reduce any inflammatory response and if you find that a wrist support is helpful then feb free to use these. I would caution however that props and supports are only good as an interim measure, ultimately we want to get the body strong to then remove their use, so don’t use these as a crutch. Aim to get rid of them as soon as you can.
Above all honour your body on any given day, remember pain is a signal that your body is not happy. Building greater understanding and awareness the ways you can make the practice work for your progress is essential. Learning how to work with, rather than against your body within the practice is important so that you can continue to reap the benefits without ‘suffering’ or injuring yourself. Remember if anything in your practice is moving you away from healing and health then it is not supposed to be in YOUR PRACTICE. Modify, manage and make it work for you.
Until next class, stay safe, wash your hands