All In The Wrist: Preventing Impingement

Normally coaches will recommend yoga as a good exercise to prepare you for any number of other physical endeavors, but I've got some exercises that will help your yoga.

More specifically, these will help you heal from and prevent the wrist injury known as “impingement” that is frequently encountered by yoga enthusiasts, as well as gymnasts.

Impingement is the injury that occurs when your arm bone hits your wrist bone. Yoga practitioners will encounter this when undertaking a plank pose, which significantly extends the wrist, putting a great deal of pressure on the joint. Should your wrists not be flexible or strong enough to prevent the bones from touching, impingement occurs, and will aggravate the ligaments and tendons in the surrounding area.

Exercise 1:

Rest the back of your forearm on a table or on your leg, with your palm facing up. Your hand should be aligned with your arm. Place a light, 1 to 5 lb weight in that hand, then slowly lower the weight toward the floor. The movement should take you five seconds, then bring the wrist back up to starting position. Plan to complete two to three sets of 10 to 15 reps on each wrist four to five days a week.

Exercise 2:

Begin seated, with your wrists resting over your knees with your palms facing down. Hold those same 1 to 5 lb weights in each hand. Slowly curl the wrists in an upward motion and pause at the top for a second before releasing them down again. Take caution not to overextend. This can be done with 1-5 lb weights or with a clenched fist. Do 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions, four to five days a week.

Exercise 3:

Hold a hammer by the handle, then stand with your arms at your side. Tilt the head of the hammer toward the ceiling and slowly lower it down. Repeat according to the same instructions on Exercise #1.

Exercise 4:

Grab hold of a stress ball or tennis ball and grip it in your palm as firmly as possible with your fingers. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat about 10 times. Switch hands.

Wrist injuries are common in yoga, yet we have conditioned ourselves to ignore them, and move onto poses that put pressure on our wrists without knowing how our muscles support this complex joint. Good wrist strength is essential to our everyday activities and yoga can be a great tool to teach us more about how to take care of our wrists.