Achy wrists is one of the most common yoga ailments. Mostly they hurt as they strengthen up, then once they are stronger they won’t hurt as much—if at all.
In Side Plank, your wrists could be hurting because your alignment is off, your core isn’t strong enough, your wrists are not used to that degree of extension or flexion or perhaps because you have a history of Carpal Tunnel.
There are a few things you can do to help put your wrists while they strengthen up.
1. Warm up
Arrive to your mat early and do a few wrist warm ups to stretch and open up the small structures in the wrist and help get the blood moving through the entire hand and forearm area.
Try circling the hands in both directions, pressing back on the fingers and thumb one at a time, forward and backward, and squeezing the wrists themselves. You can even try doing a few Cat-Cow poses with your hands reversed (fingers pointing towards your knees).
When you’re in Side Plank, check in a mirror to ensure your wrist is directly under your shoulder. This stacking concept takes stress out of the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. If you are unsure, then talk to a teacher, this is exactly what they are trained for—keeping you safe and open.
3. Adjust Your Hand
Move the weight out of the heel of your hand by pressing into the first and second knuckles of your middle finger. You can also try gripping with your fingertips. Eventually, you want to be able to relax your palms into the mat evenly, but if you are having wrist pain, grip with your fingertips until your wrists are stronger and less achy.
4. Avoid Thick Mats or Too Much Cushion
A firm base is super important for wrist health. The extra foam might feel good on your knees, but it makes your wrists over-compress in positions like Plank, Side Plank and Downward Facing Dog.
5. More Alignment
Have your yoga teacher watch as you transition from one posture to another to make sure you aren’t over-stressing your wrists in other postures or transitions, making them hurt more when holding your body weight.
6. Core Intensive
The more engaged your abdomen, arms, and legs, the lighter the weight in your wrist will be when you’re in Side Plank. Engage your core to try and lift your hips and keep them high and not slumped.
To build form, alignment, and strength, modify your pose. These mods are not just for beginners or injured souls; they build strength in adjunctive areas and allow you to focus more other aspects of the hold.
So even if you’re not experiencing problems right now, try to use them regularly in between the full posture. Try using your fists (this actually strengthens the wrists), or come down to your forearm or knee in Side Plank and practice lifting up and away from the floor without the pressure on your arm.
If you feel sharp pain in any posture, you should always back out and modify until your body is strong enough to align properly and hold the shape. If your wrists hurt in Side Plank and you have a current case of Carpal tunnel, you should modify until the inflammation has gone down.
Remember it’s not about how deep your posture is, it is about the feeling it brings about in your body. It should feel challenging, but great. Namaste, yogis.
Image credit: AlissaYoga