In this post, chiropractic sports specialist Jeff Cubos answers a reader’s question about keeping wrists healthy and safe during yoga.
Q: My husband recently joined me at my yoga studio for his first class. He's eager to return for another class, but suffers from a joint condition that makes it difficult, at best, for him to fully flatten his palms (both in midair and on the ground). He modified any necessary poses in class the other day by doing them on clenched fists (so on his knuckles), but I'm sure there has to be a better, less painful modification he can attempt. Do you have any suggestions or thoughts? Thanks so much! - Megan
A: Thank you for your note. I’m glad to hear that your husband has chosen to join you in your yoga practice as I, myself enjoy the time my wife and I spend together at Moksha yoga.
While there may be a number of reasons that he is unable to reach full extension in his wrists, your husband has several options for how to protect his wrists while still getting the maximum benefit from each pose.
Many poses such as the plank and downward dog can easily be performed on the forearms rather than the palms. Using this modification can ensure minimal load on the wrists and can maximize the ease in which the poses are performed…especially if your husband is a beginner.
Foam rolls and blocks can be utilized to minimize the angle at which the wrists are placed in loaded positions. Additionally, the use of a thicker yoga mat may dampen the load placed on his hands and wrists.
Finally, performing additional exercises to improve core strength and endurance will ensure a more stable torso that undoubtedly will lessen the loads that the wrists must bear.
Jeff Cubos is a chiropractic sports specialist, strength and conditioning specialist and the co-owner of Back On Track Chiropractic & Sport Injury Clinic in Spruce Grove, Alberta. He is also a committee member of KidSport (Parkland chapter)—a national not-for-profit organization that provides financial assistance for registration fees and equipment to kids from 5–18 years. To learn more about Jeff, visit his website.