Lending a Hand

When it comes to hands, we usually think of them as being used for tools, opening things, phones/computers, etc.  For most people, that’s pretty much true.  Our hands are mostly used for things that require fine motor control.  Our hands do have other functions, one of which is weight bearing. Wrist pain can cause issues when you need to bear weight.

We don’t usually consider our hands as weight bearing body parts, but they actually do this quite often.  Most of the time when we go to rise from the floor or a chair, we press off of our hands.

An extreme example of weight bearing through the hands would be something like gymnastics.  A less stressful but far more common form of weight bearing through the hands is yoga.  Many yoga poses or practices involve long periods of time weight bearing through the hands, and it’s not uncommon to have wrist or hand pain as a result.  Strength issues, mobility issues, and or just awareness of your positioning can all factor in to whether or not you’ll experience wrist pain in your next yoga session.

  • Wrist strength – Having strong wrists is vital for something like yoga.  Yoga requires significant endurance and strength of the wrist and finger flexors, otherwise all of the pressure goes into the carpal bones (shown here) of the wrist (more on that later).  One way to develop wrist and finger strength is through wrist push ups (shown here in quadruped).  These can be done standing over a counter to make it easier, or in a full plank/push up position for a challenge.  Try 10-20 reps with at least a 2-3 second hold for 2-4 sets 2-3 times a week, or any days that you aren’t doing yoga.
  • Mobility – Certain yoga poses like planks or any positions where you’re inverted require a significant amount of wrist extension (the wrist bending upward).  If you’re lacking in wrist extension, these positions will tend to be uncomfortable or downright painful.  A good trick to work on wrist extension is a handy little self mobilization (pictured here).  Try 10 reps for 2-3 sets at a time daily.  This works great as a warm up for yoga.
  • Awareness – As mentioned above, having all of the weight dump into the carpal bones isn’t something you really want.  Bones are good at certain things, including weight bearing, but the carpal bones aren’t so good at that, at least without sufficient muscular support.  When you’re bearing weight into your hands, the weight should be spread throughout the knuckles and finger pads more than into the wrist itself.  Much like your foot, your hand has an arch to it (multiple, in fact).  Being aware of this positioning alone can make a big difference in any discomfort.  Practice keeping the fingers spread wide while keeping the finger pads firmly into the ground (the fingers should still be flat, not curled), with pressure going into the knuckles on the palm side of your hand.  If this is hard, just do your best to hold the position as long as you feel is possible.  Integrating this into your normal practice is best, and the wrist push ups above will do a great job of building up the strength you need to hold the position longer.

When it comes to our hands and wrists, our normal lifestyle doesn’t usually require a lot of weight bearing.  Activities like yoga do, so we need to make sure our hands and wrists are ready for that. If you’re having trouble with hand or wrist pain with yoga, see a physical therapist or occupational therapist to get some help!  It would also be a good idea to ask a yoga instructor for some pointers.

Got questions?  Feel limited in what you’re able to do?  The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to discover your future without limits.

***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice.  Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.

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