Yoga And Wrist Pain

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Yoga provides many benefits – it increases flexibility, tones muscles, builds strength and helps the worries of the day melt away. But like all physical activities, practicing yoga can accidentally lead to or worsen certain injuries, like wrist pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.

How to Prevent Wrist Pain During Yoga

One of the most common causes of wrist pain stems from yoga poses like downward facing dog. Often people inadvertently put too much weight on their wrists; that is they tend to dump their body weight on the base of their hands, accidentally straining their wrists. Instead, you should be supporting your body with your fingers and the base of your fingers. Yoga instructors call this practice Hasta Bandha or “hand lock.” This chart by YogaByCandace illustrates how body weight should be distributed to avoid wrist pain:

In poses that put weight on the wrist, the entire hand should be on the mat, but the areas marked in green should bear most of your body weight. Although this might feel unnatural at first, supporting your weight in this way will build strength the muscles in your hands and fingers. Practicing yoga properly can also ease arthritis pain. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation suggestions people with arthritis practice yoga regularly.

Still not sure if you are doing your yoga poses correctly? If you are doing yoga at home with one of the many online yoga videos, you may want to sign up for a class at a local studio and ask the instructor to help you with your poses. If you’re already in a yoga class, before class begins ask the instructor to evaluate your poses and help correct any misalignments.

How to Treat Yoga Wrist Pain

If you are already experiencing wrist pain during your yoga practice it’s important to evaluate all aspects of your life to see what may be contributing to the wrist pain. Most likely, it’s not just yoga. Do you type all day? Work at a manual labor job that puts strain on your wrists? What other repetitive motions may be contributing to wrist pain? You may have a sprain or strain, a repetitive motion injury or a condition like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Minor sprains and strains can be treated at home using RICE:

More severe sprains or strains – including persistent pain or numbness – should be evaluated by an orthopedic physician. An orthopedic physician can:

  • Establish what is causing your wrist pain
  • Provide treatment to help your wrists heal
  • Recommend stretches and exercises to improve strength and flexibility in your hands and forearms

While your wrist injury heals, acupuncture is one option for all natural pain relief. Your orthopedic physician can provide an acupuncture referral, or you can get affordable acupuncture treatment in the Portland area through Working Class Acupuncture.

Because sitting at a desk and typing is a major cause of wrist pain, even if you are only experiencing pain during your yoga practice, you should still evaluate your work station:

While you treat your wrist injury, you don’t have to stop doing yoga. Instead, modify poses to avoid putting pressure on your wrists while they heal.

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About Author

Dr. Britton Frome

Dr. Britton Frome is an orthopedic surgeon with a specialty in hand and microvascular surgery, complex trauma to the upper extremity, and soft tissue reconstruction. She has practiced in Portland since 2005, and she is the immediate past president of the Oregon Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons. She cofounded Go To Ortho in 2017, the first immediate injury care clinic in the Portland metro area. Dr. Frome was recognized as one of Portland Monthly’s “Top Doctors” in 2018.

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