As much as we try to protect ourselves and honor our bodies through yoga and mindful movement, injuries can still happen. While injuries aren’t fun and we try our best to avoid them, they can serve as great lessons about how we can further treat ourselves with care and allow us to explore our yoga practice differently with modifications.
Wrist injuries or sore, tender wrists are a common occurrence for many people, especially those who spend a lot of time practicing inversions or are new to yoga. It can be hard to figure out how to modify your practice while you have an injury, but I urge you to explore where you can find movement while protecting your wrists rather than completely giving up your practice as you are healing. Below are some ways to modify your practice while you care for yourself and your wrists.
- Set Up Your Hand Placement Mindfully: Whether you have a wrist injury or not, it is incredibly important to set your postures up well, in correct alignment, so that you can maintain the safety of your joints and muscles. In postures like downward dog, plank, and tabletop where your hands are on the ground, make sure you have your fingers spread wide and that you are placing weight through all four corners of your palms, pressing down through your fingers, especially between the webbing between your thumb and your pointer finger. It is quite common for people to take the weight into the base of their palm, which puts too much pressure on their wrist. So be mindful of where you are distributing your weight through your hands. Additionally, make sure that you have equal weight in your hands/arms and in your legs/feet rather than allowing all of your weight to move forward into your upper body when you are in downward dog.
- Come Onto Your Forearms: It is easy to modify postures like downward dog, plank, and side plank while maintaining safety for your wrists by coming down onto your forearms. This way, you can take the weight off your hands and wrists, distribute your weight more evenly across the length of your forearms. Keep your shoulders engaged and maintain alignment to strengthen your body and create muscle memory in these postures.
- Pad Your Wrists: A great option for those with more sensitive wrists is to put extra padding underneath the hands and wrist. Practice with an extra blanket or double up your mat as you practice, especially if the ground that you commonly practice is a hard surface.
- Modify Your Chaturanga And Cobra: While your wrists are healing and sensitive, it is essential to modify with gentler options, that focuses on alignment and proper engagement. Modifying your chaturanga by coming down to your knees will take a lot of weight off your wrists. It will allow you to focus on other aspects of the posture, such as engaging your core, correctly aligning your shoulders over your wrists, and keeping your elbows hugging in towards your body. Keep this movement slow and find a teacher who can check your form as well. For the cobra position, you can modify by taking less weight into your hands or keeping your hands off the mat and using the muscles in your back to create the backbend. Another great option is to skip the extra vinyasas while you are healing and take plenty of time for yourself in child’s pose.