WRIST INJURY PREVENTION AND CARE

Wrist injury can be a common issue for most Yoga practitioners. I’ve experienced what it’s like to have both wrists injured and it’s terrible but with the right kind of knowledge and awareness, most if not all wrist injuries can be avoided.

HOW TO PREVENT INJURY - THE WARM UP

When we start to load our wrists with arm balances, planks, downward dogs etc., it’s important that we allow for a certain adjustment period to take place. When there’s a lot of stress on the wrists, it can trigger pain and eventually cause injury. With that said, we should always start practice with a few exercises to warm up the wrists. One of my favorite wrist exercises starts with the palms facing up, fingers spread out wide (finger tips facing one another) when you exhale create a fist with both hands and hold a few seconds before you open the hands again to repeat a few times. (If your wrist are injured or if you feel pain, add a soft bend to your elbows when you do this exercise.)

HAND PLACEMENT

Another reason why students have wrist pain comes from how they distribute weight into their hands. The most common thing I see is students pushing weight down into the pinky finger side of their palms when they should be pressing into the index and thumb knuckles. Always spread the fingers out across the mat, grip the mat with the finger tips and actively push into the inner arches of the palms. Now that’s a strong foundation!

MODIFICATIONS

If you’ve done all these things and still have pain then it’s time to modify! For example, instead of downward dog, do dolphin plank pose (downward dog on the forearms) Instead of doing a wheel pose with flat hands, you can place blocks (flat or at an angle) against a wall and place your hands on those blocks before you back bend. Instead of cobra, do sphinx pose (cobra pose on the forearms) and instead of doing plank with your palms flat, try it on your fists.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, mindfulness has to be part of your practice. Always observe your body and don’t let anything go unnoticed because that’s when injuries happen. If you have any questions about this post or anything you have read so far, please make sure to send me a message or write your comments below!

BONUS VIDEO

Check out the video below for a visual reference on all the things that I wrote about in this article. Have fun practicing!

Luis Jimenez SuarezComment
Twisting

If we don't lengthen the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia (connective tissue) in our body at least a few times a week, our range of motion will gradually start to deteriorate. On the other hand, if we practice twisting on a regular basis through Yoga and other forms of exercise, we can maintain the normal length of soft and connective tissue in the body and increase our overall health.

The Physiological Benefits of Twisting

From a physiological standpoint, twists stimulate circulation and have a cleansing effect on the internal organs. When we twist, the organs are compressed causing toxins to be pushed out. When the twist is over, blood carrying oxygen and fresh nutrients flows into our organs to restore old and damaged tissue. Twisting removes waste in our intestinal tract which alleviates gas and constipation. Twists may also soothe muscle contractions in the midsection which ease pain caused by menstrual cramping.

How Can I Practice Twisting in Yoga?

There are many Yoga Asanas (postures) which require the use of twisting. All twisting postures can be performed while either sitting, standing or reclining. Twists can also be added in as variations to non-twisting postures like Chair Pose (Utkatasana) and Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana) to name a couple.  

Sitting or Standing

Regardless of whether you’re sitting or standing, the initial action before performing a twist is to ground the hips and lengthen the spine. It is also very important to engage the core in order to stabilize the pelvis and support the low back during the twist.

Reclining

In reclined twists, the upper body (most importantly the shoulders) should be resting on the ground so that most of the twist can happen in the lower spine. When twisting on the ground, practitioners should face away from where their legs are heading to twist from the cervical spine (base of the skull) as well.

How Do I Know I’m Twisting Correctly?

Before performing any twist, level off the pelvis (hip bones). If your sitting down, ground into the sitting bones as well. Once you’ve established a strong foundation, take a big inhale to lengthen your spine and finally twist your torso during your (very slow) exhalation. If you’re twisting from a seated posture and you feel rounding in the lower back, sit up on a block(s) or blanket(s) to maintain the natural length and curves of your back.

Did you know?

Different parts of the spine have different ranges in which they can twist. The lower spine (Lumbar spine) rotates roughly around 5 degrees, the mid spine (Thoracic spine) rotates to about 35 degrees and finally, the upper spine (Cervical spine) has the most mobility with around 50 degrees.

In order to avoid injury while twisting, make sure to involve the entire spine. Start the twist from the lower back and work your way up through the base of your skull.

Do it Yourself!

The best way to learn about the benefits of twisting postures is to experience them for yourself. Join me in a 20 minute Vinyasa flow focused on twisting! (Please consult with your doctor before performing any of the postures that you see in this video.)

Pranayama

What is Prana?

According to Ancient Yogic philosophy, prana is the universal life force/energy found in all living beings. Prana flows through thousands of subtle (non-visible) energy channels in the body called ‘nadis’.

Our prana comes from many sources like food, sleep and meditation. However, the most direct and immediate source of prana comes from our breathing – when our breathing stops, we die. Therefore, the way that we breathe has a powerful effect on the way that we live.

 

What is Pranayama?

‘Prana’ refers to the universal life force/energy in all living beings. The word ‘ayama’ means to regulate or lengthen.

When put together, the words ‘prana’ and ‘ayama’ or ‘Pranayama’ are used to describe the process of enhancing our life force energy. There is a second meaning to this word which is “the lengthening of energy and vital life force through the use of Yogic breathing exercises.”

Pranayamas or Yogic breathing exercises rely on controlling the length, rate and quality of our breathing in order to bring about balance and health to the mind and body.

Anyone who has ever meditated knows that by simply focusing on the breath we can increase our self-awareness and sense of calm.

Pranayama goes a step further by requiring students to practice specific breathing techniques which bring about focus, emotional well being, strong immunity and a calm central nervous system.

 

Pranayama and Emotions

At a conference in Germany, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living Foundation, explained the connection between breath and emotions:

  • “Our breath is linked to our emotions. For every emotion, there is a particular rhythm to the breath. You can directly harness your emotions with the help of your breathing.”
  • “If we understand the rhythm of our breath, we are able to have a say over our mind, we can win over any negative emotions such as anger, jealousy, greed, and we are able to smile more from our heart.”

In summary, we can transform our emotional states through the use of Pranayama. Given how difficult it is to control our emotions at times, by using specific yogic breathing techniques we can enhance our wellbeing and inner peace.

 

Is Your Breath Deep Or Shallow?

Take a moment now to become aware of your breath - is it deep or shallow, smooth or choppy?

Most of us breathe from the chest – this kind of breathing sends a signal to the brain that we are stressed. Breathing from the diaphragm on the other hand boosts respiration, ensures a rich supply of oxygen to the brain and activates the parasympathetic nervous system.

We can actually learn a lot about proper breathing by observing new born babies. Have you ever seen their stomach gently rising and falling as they breathe? This is the way we breath when we’re born. This is our natural way of breathing.

 

3 Pranayamas You Can Try Today

While I strongly recommend learning pranayama under the guidance of a certified Yoga teacher, you can try some exercises with me today. You can practice these Pranayamas at any time you want. However, it is preferable that you practice on an empty stomach.

Ujjayi

In Ujjayi the lungs expand and the chest thrusts outwards making the practitioner seem like a mighty conqueror. The prefix ‘ud’ means upwards, expanding, pre-eminence and power. The word ‘jaya’ means conquest/ victory. Put together, the words ‘ud’ and ‘jaya’ spell out Ujjayi which means powerful or victorious breath. This is the primary breathing technique used in Asana (postural) yoga practice.

 

Kumbhaka

A form of breath retention; Kumbhaka pranayama can either be a pause between the in and out breath (Antara Kumbhaka) or a pause between the out and in breath (Rechaka/Bahya Kumbhaka). This form of pranayama has been shown to re-vitilise the central nervous system.

 

Nadi Shodhana

Nadi Shodhan or alternate nostril breathing calms and centers the mind by bringing into harmony the left and right hemispheres of the brain which correlate with the logical (left hemisphere) side and emotional/ creative (right hemisphere) side of our personality. Nadis are channels that carry prana or energy through out our subtle and physical bodies. Shodhana means to purify or cleanse. Nadi Shodhana therefore means the “cleansing of energy channels”.