6 Yoga Warm-Ups for Wrist Pain and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

In this excerpt from his new book Yoga Therapy: Foundations, Methods, and Practices for Common Ailments, Mark Stephens offers methods for warming up and massaging the wrists to reduce pain in yoga practice.
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Although wrist pain is clearly an overly general description and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a specific diagnosis, we discuss these together because of the various interrelated factors involved in them. Wrist pain almost invariably extends beyond the wrist, especially into the hand, and even when it does not, its cause can derive from factors extrinsic to the wrist itself. The pain can also manifest in different parts of the wrist, offering some clues as to the cause. CTS occurs when the median nerve is entrapped in the small passageway on the palmar side of the wrist joint through which several tendons and the medial nerve pass. Inflammation of the tendons places pressure on the nerve, causing pain or discomfort in the wrist, outer fingers (thumb, index finger, and middle finger), and sometimes up the forearm. Wrist and hand pain can also manifest in the fourth and fifth fingers due to pressure on the ulnar nerve.

Healing depends on the condition and its cause. Persistent wrist tenderness or strain usually benefits from ice, splints worn during sleep (due to the ways we tend to flex the wrist and otherwise place pressure on it during natural movement while sleeping), and anti-inflammatory agents (including turmeric and ginger). Repetitive stress injuries invite one to reduce or stop the repetitive actions and to assess the dynamics of posture and movement that are involved. In practicing yoga, there are several ways to play with slight modification of position and energetic action to variably affect pressure in the wrists, while props minimize the pressure from wrist extension. Acute injuries often require medical attention, and many chronic conditions also indicate receiving medical attention. 

See also Hand Positioning Tips To Bear Weight + Prevent Wrist Injuries

Basic Wrist Therapy

Students and clients experiencing mild wrist pain can benefit from warming up their fingers, hands, arms, and shoulders before beginning their practice. Wrist and forearm massage are also effective in helping reduce pain. So long as the pain is mild, the following exercises can be healing.

Persistent wrist tenderness or strain usually benefits from ice, splints worn during sleep, anti-inflammatory agents (including turmeric and ginger), acupuncture, and other alternative treatments. Encourage students and clients to explore all possible measures and to consult a doctor for additional guidance.

Excerpted from Yoga Therapy: Foundations, Methods, and Practices for Common Ailments by Mark Stephens, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2017 by Mark Stephens. Reprinted by permission of publisher.