Wrist Management – Part 2: Brittle Wrists?

Standing Forward Fold
If you suffer from brittle bones, many activities are off-limits. Rock climbing. Sumo wrestling. Tackle football. Even walking can be challenging, what with all those curbs and sidewalk cracks as potentially lethal obstacles. Luckily, there is one activity that can not only strengthen your entire body, but can also protect you from osteoporosis: yoga.

Yoga serves the body in several ways. Yoga can combat stress. A consistent yoga practice gives your body the opportunity to stretch and rest. It can stimulate your bones to retain calcium, assuming you’re getting enough to begin with. (Adequate amounts of calcium—1000 mgs daily, 1500 after menopause—are critical to healthy bones.) Yoga does all this through its weight-bearing poses like arm balances, inversions, and standing poses. Yoga engages your whole skeleton.

The weakest point in the skeleton is, arguably, the wrist. Those tiny bones work together to give you the flexibility and support you need to do any number of tasks, from signing a check to doing a handstand. Of course, weight-bearing poses expose your wrists’ vulnerability. A lot of delicate tissues—such as ligaments that knit the wrist bones together and tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the fingers—are packed into a small area. Strain or irritation of these tissues can cause major wrist pain.

Yet bearing weight is a very important part of most yoga practices. If you’ve ever had a wrist problem, you know how painful it can be. Worse yet, that pain carries over into your everyday life, a constant reminder that you need to change your approach to yoga.

The answer does not lie in transforming into a couch potato. A careful and gradual approach to increasing wrist flexibility and strength can help most people avoid further injury and even rehabilitate the wrist.

protecting the wrists in a lunge
If you’re a beginning yoga student (or someone with wrist problems), you absolutely should begin bearing weight on your arms gradually. Instead of launching into dozens of difficult asanas, start by spending a little time every day on your hands and knees. In this position, you place relatively little weight on your hands, so your wrists can become

accustomed to the weight. You can also vary the extension of your wrists. For example, if your wrists hurt when you position your hands directly below your shoulders, move your hands forward, in front of your shoulders, to reduce the extension.  You Can also try placing them on the forward slope of an Egg.

I’d like to thank the Yoga JournalLinda Sparrowe, and Julie Gudmestad for some of this information.

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