Righting the 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.