Wrist Pain Remedy

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Read Desirée Rumbaugh's response:

Dear Rosalie,

I am sorry to hear about the pain in your wrists. That certainly makes practicing yoga more difficult. The good news is that there is a yogic solution to this problem. What seems to aggravate or even cause carpal tunnel syndrome to flare up is practicing weight-bearing poses such as Sun Salutations, Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog), Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand), and arm balances without having enough muscular energy to strengthen and integrate the entire body.

Often the people who are attracted to yoga are more flexible than strong (especially women), and they come with a lot of enthusiasm only to find out that soon their yoga practice is creating or aggravating joint pain. Wrist and knee problems are fairly common for such practitioners. The cure for this painful and annoying wrist condition [is learning how to "claw the floor" by pressing down firmly with the finger pads, palm of the hand, and the knuckles with all fingers and thumbs evenly spread. You are pulling energy inward from the finger pads towards the center of the hand. Just practicing this simple action on all fours will bring a new feeling of strength up into the arms. From there, we learn to keep that muscular energy engaged as we hug to the midline and draw our hands towards each other isometrically. Isometric strength is gained when we engage muscles and hold them strong or when we press our hands or feet into the floor and "drag" them towards each other without actually moving them. The abdominal muscles also need to be strengthened to promote the full integration of the arms and legs with the torso.

Learning to keep the muscles engaged while doing Down Dog and Sun Salutations will strengthen one's arms, chest, and abdominal muscles to safely support the weight of the body so that weight does not fall on the weaker hinge joints, such as the wrists and knees.

I feel very strongly that beginners should be taught how to do simple pushups and situps in alignment with nature, before being asked to do these powerful and often more quickly moving and complicated yoga postures. If we don't strengthen our students—or our own bodies, for that matter—we are doing more harm than good with our weight-bearing poses. If we do develop integrated strength and flexibility, no matter how long it takes, we are doing ourselves a great favor.