5 Yoga poses to help with wrist pains and problems


5 Yoga poses to help with wrist pains and problems


By Gwen Lawrence | November 2016

Special to espnW

Each month, yoga coach Gwen Lawrence shows us five yoga poses designed to keep athletes in the game. To enable you to keep your workouts on track, this month she focuses on ways to keep your wrists open flexible and strong. As always, consult a doctor before you begin any new exercise program.

Whether you are a professional athlete or spend hours pounding away at your desk and computer each day, wrist care is important and makes sense. In the athlete world you need to have grip strength, absorb falls, and powerful arm strength, one key to gain those qualities often over looked is a supple wrist. One the other hand, if you are at your desk all day, driving for long hours holding the steering wheel or addicted to your phone, over-developing all the tiny muscles in your hands and wrists you can develop chronic pain. Try these wrist openers to end the battle and gain freedom in the hands and wrists.

Downward facing dog


Courtesy of Gwen Lawrence

The beauty of this pose is you are not only getting a less direct and gently angle on the wrist joint; you are strengthening all the shoulder muscles and arm muscles at the same time, building a more balanced strong body.

Keys to the pose:

* Set your hands shoulders width apart, palms flat and fingers spread out evenly.

* Feet are approximately hips width apart, for wrists purposes do this pose with bent knees.

* Inhale push the floor away, and exhale gently drop your head down towards the mat, and chest through the arms.

* Breathe and hold this pose for 30 seconds -1 minute.

Reclining seated mountain

Courtesy of Gwen Lawrence

Doing this pose adds the element of chest opening, front shoulder stretching, wrist and forearm stretching. To properly open a joint you need to consider stretching surrounding joints and muscles at the same time. This pose accomplishes that for you.

Keys to the pose:

* Start in seated mountain pose, sitting up straight.

* Place your hands on the floor behind you play around with the direction the fingers point according to where you feel the best stretch. Whatever you choose, be sure your hands are symmetrical.

* Lean back on your hands, palms flat fingers spread evenly.

* Inhale lengthen the spine and push the floor away, exhale and open the chest and heart forward and squeeze the shoulder blades together behind you.

* Do this move for 1 full minute of focus and breathing.

Inverted table


Courtesy of Gwen Lawrence

This move takes the reclining seated mountain to the next level, you may want to progress to this once you feel you are executing the previous pose well. You will continue to stretch the entire shoulder girdle, forearms and wrists. Then progressively add the strength element of the arms when you lift up, making it a real well rounded yoga move.

Keys to the pose:

* Start in seated mountain pose. Place hands on the floor behind you fingers spread palms flat.

* Make sure you find the optimum direction for your fingers to point for the best stretch for you

* Knees bent and feet flat.

* Distribute your weight evenly between the feet and hands.

* Inhale lift your hips off the floor, someday lifting them as high as the knees. Exhale, lower back down.

* When you are in lift off push evenly into the hands, push the floor away, gently squeeze the shoulder blades towards each other and pause before you lower.

* Do this 1-3 minutes depending on your ability.

Wrist turns

Courtesy of Gwen Lawrence

This pose is the kingpin of stretch for the wrists and should be considered as an everyday move if you are experiencing tightness and pain in the wrist joint. You need to approach this move slowly and mindfully, so as not to be too aggressive when you first do it.

Keys to the pose:

* Starting on your hands and knees in table pose.

* Make sure your wrist joint is directly under your shoulder joint to start.

* Stretch one wrist at a time; turn the right wrist to the right until one day your right middle finger is touching your right knee.

* With fingers spread evenly and palms flat, if you can walk your hand away from the knee until one day it is back, directly under your shoulder.

* Inhale, push the floor away, lengthen the neck out of your shoulders, and hold for 30 seconds. Slowly come out of it and switch sides.

* Do this move 2 times on each side.

Reverse wrist openers

Courtesy of Gwen Lawrence

All the previous moves are focusing on a flexing stretch of the wrist joint; this move is unique, as you will finally feel an amazing extension stretch. It may feel strange at first because it is not a stretch you do or feel regularly, so approach it slowly and before you know it the small muscles in the wrist joint will begin to release and you will finally experience the freedom and flexibility in the wrists you were looking for.

Keys to the pose:

* Start in table pose, on your hands and knees.

* Bring your right wrist under your face, palm facing up.

* Spread your fingers evenly.

* Use your left hand on top of your right wrist to gently press down on the right hand.

* Lean into the stretch until you reach your limit, hold and breathe 30 seconds to 1 minute.

* To come out of it, lean away from the stretch and slowly release your right wrist.

* Repeat the move on your left hand.

Gwen Lawrence owns Power Yoga for Sports and works with athletes in professional basketball, football, baseball, hockey and soccer, as well as Olympians and collegiate champions. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @gwenlawrence and at www.gwenlawrence.com.