Wrist Pain in Yoga and Plank Pose and How to Fix It

Shows a black and white image of a hand and forearm. The person is grabbing their wrist and it's red where they're grabbing their wrist.

One of the most common issues I hear in yoga is that people have wrist pain in poses like plank pose and chaturanga. I’m obviously not a PT or a doctor, and you should absolutely go get it checked out if this is something bothering you. That being said, there are a few things we can tweak in your yoga practice that may help.

Reasons You May Have Wrist Pain in Yoga:

#1: Your Wrist Mobility isn’t that great

Unless you’ve had some major injury to your wrists, what I’ve found with my students is that in general, wrist pain is often due to a lack of wrist mobility. Usually people experience pain when they’re in a deeply extended position in the wrist forcing – think about how your wrist looks in a plank or an arm balance. Part of the reason this could be hurting it is that you don’t have the mobility required to do this pose. SO:

How Can You Tell if you have Good Wrist Mobility?

1) Bring your forearms together with your palms touching in front of your face like this:

2) Start to bend your wrists backwards – just like you would bend your wrists in a plank pose. Are you able to get it to a 90 degree angle (which is what you’d need to do a plank)? Or are your fingers still facing relatively upright? You’re looking for something similar (or better than) this:

versus this:

So Why Does This Matter?

Well in short, if your body doesn’t have the ability to move itself into a particular range of motion, when you try to force it into that position and then put your body weight on top of it, it’ll probably hurt. That’s the gist of it at least (without getting too yoga-teacher-body mechanics-nerdy)

So, What Can You Do to Help Your Wrists Mobility to Help Your Wrist Pain?

#1 – Self-Massage

Start by rolling out the muscles with something like a golf ball, lacrosse ball, or if you happen to have yoga tune-up balls – those are perfect. Massage out the front and back of your forearm, your hand, and all the muscles surrounding your wrist.

#2 – Move

Next, you’ll want to bring in some movement. Follow the steps below or watch this video:

  1. Make a fist with your hand tight enough so that you can feel your muscles engage.
  2. Place your other hand on your forearm to anchor it down.
  3. WITHOUT moving your forearm, start to make SLOW circles with your fist. What often happens is that our forearms want to do the work for us here, but you’re going to be super diligent and honest with yourself about what is actually creating the movement.

THIS WILL FEEL HARD. If you move quickly, you’ll lose control and your forearm will do the work of your wrist and you won’t feel anything or get anywhere. Think about it as if you’re driving a car – the faster you go, the less control over the vehicle you’d have. Same thing with mobility work. Slow wins the race. 

#3 – Strengthen

Finally, you’ll strengthen those wrist muscles by doing wrist pushups. Again slow, honest, and intentional movement is the key here. Here are the directions:

  1. Come onto your hands and knees.
  2. Imagine you could drag your hands backward. They won’t actually move, but what you’ll feel is the muscles starting to engage.
  3. Start to slowly lift your wrists up and down into small wrist pushups. If you do this correctly, you will feel the muscles around the wrists burning from working hard almost immediately.
    1. A common mistake I see –> Doing finger pushups – instead of lifting the wrists, people bend at their knuckles. Make sure you’re bending your wrists not your fingers. Again, if you feel nothing in the wrists, try to find that engagement of tugging your hands back

It should look like this:

Do these 3 things, in this particular order and see if it starts to help you at all with your wrist mobility in weight-bearing poses like plank etc. If any of these movements hurt, do NOT do them. Again, if you’re in pain I always recommend seeing either a PT or a doctor. Yoga is great for a lot of things, but we are not doctors and are not pain specialists, so your first step should always be to see a licensed professional, and then they can work closely with your yoga instructor to get you feeling better.

If you want more tips for wrist pain in yoga, make sure you check out my short YouTube video which will teach you more ways to fix your wrist pain in plank pose and in yoga.

Please hit Subscribe in YouTube to my channel if you like this video and want more like it!

Till next time,

Kate

P.S. If you want to see all of this in action, along with full classes that focus on getting you healthy wrists for yoga, check out my online yoga studio. Give it a try for free by clicking here.

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