Whether you’re a seasoned crow-poser or a downdog newbie, you most likely have had some kind of yoga sensation in your radio-carpal joint – also known as your wrist! It’s important to find flexibility in this space for long term health on and off the mat. (So that’s why we’re here!)
How many times have you heard, “My wrists are weak” or “I don’t do yoga because it hurts my wrists.” Maybe you’ve even had this thought run through your own mind! As we go through a typical day, a lot of us spend more time typing than actively engaging our wrists. Over time, this can translate into stiff, weak joints. Not to worry! There are many things we can do to both stretch out the tendons and ligaments in our wrists as well as strengthen the muscles in the forearm and hand, finding strong stability in this area. Keep those joints limber and you’ll be doing bakasana until you’re 100!
Let’s begin with a few warm up exercises that can be done before hopping onto your mat (or ANY time during the day!) They feel fantastic upon waking as well as after typing for a couple hours.
These exercises can be done with or without props, but if you have a tennis ball (or similarly sized object) handy, grab it!
Wrist Stretching Sequence
- Squeeze the ball firmly in your hand. Begin to circle your wrist, vary the grip on the ball (or simply your fist). Move in both directions, pausing wherever feels like it needs more love.
- Let go of your ball. Place your arms out in front of you, extending your fingers long. Gently open your fingers as wide as you can and then tightly squeeze your fingers back together. Move slowly and deliberately, allowing your hand muscles to engage and release.
- Hold your hands out in front of you with your wrists flexed (like you’re telling someone to ‘stop’). Gently, extend your wrists (so that your fingers move down toward the insides of your arm). Allow your fingers to move like a wave, again pausing at any points that need attention!
- Find a desk or a table you can rest your hands on with your elbows at a 90 degree angle. Spread your fingers out on the surface of the desk and start to mimic playing a piano, lifting one finger up and down at a time. Feel the muscles in your hand engage and start to warm up the ligaments throughout your wrists.
Now, let’s get a little deeper! Pick up your ball again and find a comfortable spot on your mat. Come into a comfortable kneeling position with your weight shifted back toward your heels.
- Place the ball on the mat in front of you. Put your palm around the ball, closer to your fingers. Start to melt the heel of your hand toward the mat, using your body weight to stretch your wrist. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Stretch your arms out in front of you, flexing your wrists in the ‘stop’ position. Move your fingers toward your forearms, extending your wrists (just like in our third warm up exercise). Shift your weight forward and set the backs of your hands down on the mat. Slowly begin to sit back onto your heels, feeling the front of your wrist and hands begin to open up. Hold this for 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
- Come back on to your heels, extend your arms out in front of you and flip your palms up toward the sky. Begin to lean forward, flex your fingers toward your elbows. Set your palms on the earth, heel-side of your hand away from you, fingers pointing toward your knees. Sit your hips back toward your heels until you feel your wrist and forearm stretch. Remain here for 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Take care when moving out of the stretch.
To move forward and build a little more wrist strength, try the following poses!
Wrist Strengthening Sequence:
Engage through your fingers, almost as though you’re trying to make suction cups with your hands and draw the earth up into your arms.
Your whole hand should be active and engaged to protect the wrist and strengthen your muscles. Press evenly throughout your fingers, trying to seal the space under your palm into the mat.
Make sure to take care when moving from pose to pose, allow your wrists to stretch gradually without forcing any movement.
Can you feel your wrists being strengthened? Which of these poses do you love? Have a body part you need some stretches for? Let us know what they are!