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What to do when your wrist hurt in yoga?

Why do the wrists hurt in ashtanga or vinyasa classes?

Vinyasa classes are in fashion in current times due to the many benefits it offers. Some key benefits to be mentioned are weight loss, toned muscles, better mood after practice, and easier to master advanced postures.

But it comes with a small cost for a small but significant number of students, that is, painful wrists.

The wrist joints contain 13 small bones and a web of ligaments to keep the joints stable.

Ray Long, MD, author of many yoga anatomy books, quotes,

"… misalignments in bones, ligaments, and muscles during weight-bearing poses are bound to happen, which can trigger wrist pain and two common conditions in particular. The first, called ulnocarpal abutment syndrome, indicates pressure where the ulna meets the carpal bones on the wrist's little-finger side. This may occur if the ulna bone has an unusual shape—something just a small percentage of us are born with—or if the wrist is repeatedly turned out toward the little finger in weight-bearing poses like Downward-Facing Dog.

The second syndrome, tendonitis, is characterized by tendon inflammation, often due to misalignment and weight transfer in poses such as Chaturanga Dandasana, where the wrist joint is in full extension. Chronic wrist injury is also common in yogis with relaxed or hyper-mobile ligaments, which can cause inflammation, pain, and ultimately arthritis."

Here are 3 common reasons why do wrists hurts, mainly in ashtanga?

1. Surya namaskars of ashtanga are dynamic in practice, and when we start doing it, most of us have the weak core strength that results in a jump to Chaturanga where the most weight falls unevenly on wrists. As you lower your body from high plank to Chaturanga and the elbows bend, the elbows must lined up right over the wrists. If they are too far forward, this can strain the wrist. You can see the adjustment below.

How to solve this issue? Place your knees on the ground and try to lower the body in Chaturanga with the right alignment.

2. Another cause of wrist pain in yoga is weight gain. Since Covid 19, this is one of the main causes. Arm balancing postures mainly depend on the ratio of body weight to triceps' strength and deltoids of arms. If your hips touch the floor before anything else when you lower down from Chaturanga (or Plank) to the floor, then the arms are weak for the body's weight. As one gains weight, the weight falls on wrists much more substantial, causing pain or inflammation. This tendency will be more if postures like bakasana or purvottanasana are added to the practice.

How to solve this? Either by losing some kilos or making your core strong with some additional posture such as Navasana, shalabhasana, and pachimottanasana etc.

In an image below, Rubesch Linda, ashtanga and sup yoga teacher showing the combination of core strength and right body weight ratio.

3. Yoga mats plays an essential role, mainly in dynamic practices at-least for people who are new to ashtanga or vinyasa classes. Hot yoga styles and hatha yoga practice can go on any yoga mat, but ashtanga or vinyasa requires a grip and shock absorbing facility in the mat. Thin mats doesn't provide much protection for wrists and knees.

The best way to solve this? Either Manduka, Jade, or Liforme or mats of at least 4mm thick. These mats are expensive but can last for 10-15 years.


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