Wrist Support: 5 Poses to Help Stretch & Strengthen your Wrists

Whether you're new to yoga, or a seasoned practitioner, there's a good chance you've experienced wrist tenderness at some point in your practice.  Many of the postures we regularly perform - Crow Pose, Wheel Pose, Chaturnaga, and even Downward Facing Dog - have us bearing weight in the delicate wrist joints.  Misalignment in these poses, or lack of necessary strength and flexibility, are some of the major reasons our wrists can feel sore during or after a practice. 

Poses that bear weight in the wrists

Poses that bear weight in the wrists

Incorporating targeted stretching & strengthening exercises into your routine is an effective way to alleviate wrist soreness and help prevent injury.  Below is a sequence of 5 poses to strengthen and mobilize your wrists as well as reduce tension in the surrounding areas (such as the hands, fingers, and forearms).

1. Wrist Circles

Wrist Circles

Wrist Circles

  • Curl your hand into a fist with your fingers wrapped over your thumbs.
  • Tightly clench your fists as you rotate your hands in a circular motion. Make the movements slow and deliberate, bringing your awareness to the muscles of your wrists.
  • Circle each wrist ten times before switching to the opposite direction.

2. Hand Under Foot Pose

  • From Mountain Pose begin to fold forward.  Bend your knees as much as necessary so that your belly connects with your thighs.
  • Place your hands on the ground with your palms facing upward.  Slide your hands under your feet until your toes are touching your wrists. 
  • Play around in the pose by shifting your weight forward and pressing the toes into the muscular part of the palms.  Your knees can remain bent, or you can straighten them for more of a challenge, if you feel comfortable doing so (make sure your hamstrings are properly warmed up first).
Hand Under Foot Pose (with bent knees)

Hand Under Foot Pose (with bent knees)

Hand Under Foot Pose

Hand Under Foot Pose

3. Upward Bound Finger Pose

Upward Bound Finger Pose

Upward Bound Finger Pose

  • Begin seated with your fingers snugly interlaced. Place the back of your hands on top of your head with the palms facing upward.
  • Slowly begin to straighten your arms as you raise them up toward the ceiling. Make sure to keep the muscles in your back and neck relaxed.  If you feel any tightening in the shoulders, back, or neck, pause and soften them before continuing.  
  • Once the arms are fully extended, slowly lower them back down so that your hands return to the top of your head with the palms facing upward.
  • Repeat this 5 times.  You can also perform this exercise by extending your arms straight out in front of your chest, and then returning your arms back above your head.

4. Table Pose Wrist Stretch

Table Pose Wrist Stretch

Table Pose Wrist Stretch

  • Begin in Table pose, with the hands on the floor directly under your shoulders and the fingers pointing forward.
  • Slowly begin to rotate the hands outward in a semi circle until your fingers are pointing back towards your body.
  • Hold for 6-10 breaths.  For a deeper stretch  you can gently ease the hips back and shift more of your weight into your heels.  You should feel a very deep opening in the wrists and forearms.  Take care to only go as far as feels right for you. 

5. Reverse Prayer Stretch (Phalen's Test)

Reverse Prayer Stretch

Reverse Prayer Stretch

  • Place the backs of his hands together at chest level, with both wrists completely flexed.
  • Press the hands firmly together (from the knuckles to the fingertips)  for up to one minute.
  • NOTE: Pain or tingling along the inside of the wrist may be an indication of carpal tunnel syndrome (always consult a medical professional first if you're experiencing any unusual pain).

10 Reasons to get Upside Down Everyday

An inversion in yoga is a posture where the head is positioned below the heart.  Most of the time we think of these as advanced poses, such as handstand or shoulder stand, however there are more accessible and gentler variations you can take.  Asanas like Downward Dog and Legs up the wall are considered inversions and will give you many of the same benefits as the more advanced postures.  Those with injuries and limitations such as high blood pressure should speak to their doctor before attempting any inversions.

10 Reasons to Get Upside Down:

1.       Encourages Blood Circulation – gravity does the work by promoting fresh blood flow throughout the entire body.

2.     Improves Concentration – oxygen to the brain is increased, leaving us feeling invigorated and more alert.

3.      Strengthens the Immune System – getting upside down helps the body release toxins and bacteria which are eliminated by the lymph nodes.

4.      Alleviates Mild Back Pain – inversions help the spine to decompress, relieving pressure and easing back pain.

5.      Strengthens Your Core – the inner abdominal muscles are required to get into, out of, and to hold many unsupported inversions.

6.      Relaxing – legs ups the wall and other cooling inversions help calm the nervous system, reduce stress, and create a sense of serenity.

7.      Builds Confidence – facing our fears teaches us to overcome our reservations, and accomplishing new things is highly rewarding.

8.      Increases Body Awareness – moving into unique postures forces us to be more conscious of our body in space.

9.      Provides a New Perspective – getting upside down literally changes our viewpoint and gives us a fresh outlook in other aspects of our lives.

10.  Mood Boosting – Inversions are fun!  Once you become more comfortable with inversions you can practice them anywhere and all of the time.  Practicing a headstand on the grass or handstands on the beach adds playfulness and joy to your everyday life.