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Righting the Wrists

Many of my students (myself included) have wrist problems, such as weakness and carpal tunnel syndrome. Do you have any ideas for strengthening wrists?

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— Betty

Read John Friend's response:

Dear Betty,

Clearing wrist problems is not only a matter of strengthening the wrists; a high percentage of wrist problems have their origin in shoulder misalignments, too. The first thing to do is to open and balance the shoulders through a variety of poses performed with good alignment.

The next key therapeutic step for the wrists is to strengthen the flexor muscles of the forearms (the muscles on the underside, or palm side, of the forearm). Do this through isometric actions in basic positions, while bearing light weight on your hands. It is essential to place the hands on a firm surface, shoulder-width apart; and make sure the creases of the two wrists (where the back of each hand meets the forearm) form a straight line. The fingers and thumbs should be evenly spread. The four corners of each palm (the index finger mound, mound of the thumb, little finger mound, and outer heel of the palm) should be evenly anchored on the firm surface.

To build isometric strength in the flexor muscles, claw the hand on the firm surface so that the tips of the fingers and the four corners of the palms press down and draw back toward the shoulders. Keeping the finger pads down, bend the fingers slightly and lift the center of the palms up without lifting the four corners of the palms. The flexor muscles should firm as you attempt to move the head of the arm bone backward in relationship to the torso.

It is important to note that wrist problems will be aggravated if:

  • Your weight falls to the outside of your hands.
  • Your index finger knuckle lifts away from the foundation.
  • Your weight collapses to the heel of the palm.

Basic positions include an L-pose with hands on a table top; Child's Pose with the arms extended forward; bearing your weight on all fours with hands in front of the shoulders; and Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog).

Start with poses that bear less weight, then increase the weight on the wrists as you are able to maintain good alignment and proper muscular action.

If you follow this general advice, you will experience some freedom from your wrist problem. With regular therapeutic asana practice, carpal tunnel syndrome and other common wrist issues can usually be eliminated.

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Reader Comments

Erin Keely

I broke my wrist very badly a year ago, and I now have a plate screwed on to the bone. I have been having a lot of trouble going into any weight bearing poses on the wrist. I can now do downward dog, but not for long, and table pose is very painful. What exercises can I do to strengthen this wrist and be able to do handstands again?

ashley

I have Tenditious, from my job. Went through Physcail therapy, but still dont do poses that put pressure on my wrists

Selena

Are there any special stretches you recommend for the palm of the hand? My family has a history of Dupuytren's Syndrome. Basically, some of the connective tissues in the palms of the hands and feet contract and form sort of lumpy ropey things and it can be debilitating (eventually you can't open your hand all the way and your hands become claw-like). The doctors say you can avoid surgery if you stretch the hands.

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