Wrist Rehab & Core Strength

Protect your wrists in practice and add some grace to transitions

Here's a little snippet of my pre-teaching play to quickly warm up the spine and hips, fire up the core, and stabilize the shoulders with some rolling Vinyasa + a somewhat unconventional "figure 8" core flow: knee to elbow --> nose --> triceps in both directions (a new favorite sequence of mine!). Scroll down for a bit more on wrist pain, solutions, and and a breakdown of these pesky little structures.

By nature, our wrists are particularly prone to injury - they encompass a huge number of moving parts that must work in concert with one another articulate movement. The wrist starts where the two forearm bones, the radius and ulna, meet with three of the eight carpal bones on each hand. The rest of the carpal bones connect with each other and the fingers. An array of ligaments connects the many bones to each other, and muscles and tendons lie above and below the bones to move the wrist and fingers.

Any practice that involves moving in and out of Downward-Facing Dog and Chaturanga Dandasana demands a lot of our wrists - a large percentage of my students admit pain while holding these poses and moving through Vinyasa.  Looking at the anatomical breakdown, it's easy to see why and how these vulnerable structures may suffer from improper weight transfer and repetitive (and sometimes aggressive) movement. 

From a recent article by Ray Long, MD:

"The key to protecting your wrists is—surprise!—a strong core. Evidence-based medicine demonstrates that a strong core can increase the efficiency of the rotator cuff muscles. These muscles stabilize the shoulders and can thus decrease the load that is transferred to your wrists. On the flip side, low core strength or failure to engage the core in poses like Chaturanga Dandasana can lead to decreased trunk and shoulder stability. If the core is weak, strong shear forces transfer across the wrist, especially during transitions between poses. So picture the ubiquitous Down Dog-Chaturanga-Up Dog-Down Dog sequence. Each time you repeat it, your wrists bear weight throughout. Over time and without proper support, this can lead to injury. But when effort is well dispersed throughout the core and shoulders in a vinyasa-based practice, that force in the wrists is minimized."

As always, listen to your body! "Grin and bear it" is not a mantra to adopt in practice. If your wrists are hurting, listen to what the sensations are telling you and talk to your teacher about finding proper alignment.