Yoga For Sore, Weak or Inflexible Wrists - Monthly Yoga with Abi

Oct 26, 2017 at 22:46
by Abi Carver  
Yoga for strong resilient wrists

Mountain bikers are particularly prone to wrist injuries, which can result from crashes, excessive vibration and maintaining the same upper body position for long periods of time. Pedaling over rocks, roots, drops and other unpredictable terrain generates vibration that the rider and bike have to absorb, and hand and wrist pain are a common side-effect of supporting your weight under these conditions. Riding also exacerbates a common muscular imbalance between the top and bottom of the forearm, which can contribute to the problem. The top of the forearm—from the wrist to the elbow— is typically tight and overactive, whereas the bottom—from the palm to the inner elbow—is often weak, underused and susceptible to nerve damage.

Yoga can help, both preventatively and therapeutically, by building strength in the wrists and keeping your body moving when you’re not able to ride or train at maximum effort. Working on strengthening and maintaining proper mobility in this vulnerable joint can help to reduce pain, increase your performance and minimize time away from the bike.

1. Building strength

The key to protecting your wrists is to develop a strong core, by which I don’t mean 6-pack abs, but a balanced base of support from which to generate power. When your hips, core and shoulders are strong, you decrease the load transferred to your wrists. Here are four yoga poses, which fall into the category of arm balances, that strengthen the core and upper body. I recommend you practice them regularly to maintain a level of conditioning that allows you to ride your fastest and hardest for longer.

These poses require 90-degree extension at the wrist, so skip onto the next section if you don’t have access to your full range of motion at this joint.

Click on each of the pose titles for full instructions.

1. Plank

Plank
Side Plank
Locust Pose Glute strengthener
Crow pose strengthens the core lower back upper back shoulders arms wrists and hands. It is an intermediate hand balance.

Alignment

It is important to ensure proper alignment in these poses so that you don’t further injure yourself or exacerbate existing muscular imbalances.

- Press your palms evenly into the mat, spread your fingers wide and check that your index fingers point straight ahead.
- Press into the mounds at the base of your fingers to reduce the weight in the heels of your hands and engage the muscles in the undersides of your forearms. If your hands start to cup, this may signify weakness in the underside of your forearms and/or tightness on the insides of your hands.
- Pay attention to how you distribute your weight, being careful not to dump into the heels of your hands as this can lead to compression and discomfort at the wrist.
- Lift your forearms up out of your wrists.
- Tune into the connection that runs from your core through your shoulders, arms and wrists to your hands. Allow the larger muscles in your body to do most of the work.
- Check that your wrists are directly underneath your shoulders.

Application

You should be able to hold each of these poses for a minute or so. If you’re recovering from injury or you have weak wrists, start gradually, holding the poses for 5-10 breaths every other day. The rest between attempts will allow your muscles, tendons and ligaments to grow stronger.

Back off any movement that causes pain, tingling or numbness. Don’t try to muscle through it. And if you have any concerns, please consult a medical professional as you may have a more serious condition that needs to be diagnosed.

2. Improving mobility

If your wrists are weak or injured, you should avoid weight-bearing poses until the pain subsides. In the meantime, you can practice gentler yoga sequences to work on restoring proper flexibility and range of motion in your wrists, as well as in the neck, shoulders and upper back. Here is an easy 15-minute upper mobility routine.

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3. Increasing awareness

Practicing yoga can help you to ride with more awareness of your body and therefore in a potentially less harmful way. As you notice issues with your alignment and areas where you’re holding tension, you can start to be more conscious of your habitual patterns both during the day and on the bike. This focus on body awareness is one of the primary reasons many professional athletes value yoga as an integral part of their training. We don't always pay close attention to our bodies when we’re engaged in physical activity, especially at the most demanding level, but it is crucial for skill development and to perform at the highest level.

Notice how you distribute your weight through your hands in the poses and apply this to how you position yourself on the bike. Notice where you can let go of unnecessary tension and where your alignment can be improved.

4. Myofascial release

Stretching and yoga may not be enough to fully restore strength, flexibility and strength in your wrists. To break up adhesions in the connective tissue, you can take a lacrosse ball to your forearm, all the way from the base of your thumb up to your elbow joint, paying close attention to areas that feel tight.

Please share any tips in the comments relating to your training, riding position and equipment that you have found to help reduce wrist issues.

I’ve put together a 5-video Yoga For Wrists series, to build strength, increase flexibility and restore range of motion. You can find out more here: vimeo.com/ondemand/yogaforwrists. Email me at abi@yoga15.com if you have any questions about the series or the poses I recommend in this article.

Previous Yoga with Abi:

Release Tension In The Upper Back and Injury-Proof Your Shoulders
Loosen Up Tight Hips With 3 Types Of Poses
15-Minute Post-Ride Routine Designed To Optimize Your Recovery
Three Levels of Yoga to Relieve Lower Back Pain
Stretches to Relieve a Tight Chest and Stiff Shoulders
The Most Effective Style of Yoga to Increase Your Flexibility
Easy 15-Minute Yoga Routine To Loosen Up Tight Joints
How To Release Tight Quads And Increase Your Power
How To Release Chronically Tight Hamstrings
A Challenging One-Hour Yoga Flow Class
Take Control of Your Mind and Push Your Personal Limits
Yoga To Relieve Pain In Between The Shoulder Blades
15-Minute Routine To Unlock Tight Hips
15-Minute Yoga Routine To Build Core Strength
Short Yoga Routine To Help With Lower Back Pain in Bikers
15-Minute Yoga Routine To Enhance Balance and Agilityl
15-Minute Post-Ride Yoga Routine
8 Quick Yoga Stretches To Do At Work



MENTIONS: @yoga15app



Must Read This Week

53 Comments

  • + 72
 i've found switching hands helped alot
  • - 16
flag colincolin (Nov 1, 2017 at 15:51) (Below Threshold)
 duh.
  • - 16
flag fecalmaster (Nov 2, 2017 at 7:54) (Below Threshold)
 I'm attempting to start this new girl off in a fart free environment. I forgot this morning she was in bed and blazed a mega blast. Tried real hard to pretend like it didn't happen or break out laughing. Best day ever!
  • + 30
 I tried the Crow, now my face hurts.
  • + 12
 Pop on a dh helmet. Sorted.
  • + 2
 I tried it too. Now my right leg has disappeared.
  • + 24
 Awesome routing targeting common MTB needs! Thanks Abi! Ankles are another area that sees a lot of abuse. Id love to see a similar routine for ankles!!
  • + 6
 Ankles were exactly my thought! Wrists are for sure a common problem for mtb, but I feel that ankles is my biggest weak point. That said, a guy I know went and got his ankles x-ray'd recently after hurting his ankle off his bike (after many tweaks while riding that he tried to brush off). Doc told him that he didn't know exactly what he had done this time, as the x-ray showed 13 mini-fractures in his one ankle. I suppose Yoga is not help for fractures!
  • + 10
 No problem. I will work on that for you guys next. Yoga is great for ankle strength and flexibility because you do the sequences barefoot.
  • + 3
 @yoga15app:: After breaking both wrists in a motorcycle accident a few years back (and my arm, and my back), I can't put pressure on my palms in a way like you describe in your first set of instructions. It puts too much force on the wrist and either rubs the titanium in my left arm funny, or stresses the joint in my right where the cartilage let go.

As a work around, when I do planks, push ups or whatever, I use a waist height bar that I can grip while doing push ups. this reduces the pressure on the joint and still allows for core strengthening. For planks, I make a fist and support my arms knuckle down. While these don't necessarily strengthen the wrists themselves, they do help in overall strength.

To support my wrists better when riding, I use paddle grips. Carbon bars do wonders to eliminate trail vibration as well.
  • + 1
 @Poulsbojohnny: Thank you for the great tips. You can actually also do Downward Dog on your forearms which helps to build shoulder strength and flexibility.
  • + 2
 @yoga15app: I am also like so many others here...I did some good damage to my ankle over the last year. 8 months later I am still working on increasing my ankle mobility. Unfortunately it has limited some of my movements due to scar tissue but I am always keen to hear what things could be helpful going forward. Sorry I missed you at crankworx this year. Thanks again for keeping all of us in good alignment Smile
  • + 1
 @yoga15app: Ankles, yes please. Just starting physio after breaking mine recently.
  • + 7
 Random luck has led me to several wrist/hand breaks. It's the worst. My hands are now slipping off my grips in the most casual rides, where a year ago I was cleaning most jumps at Whistler. Physical therapy is helping but man is it a trial. I commonly do most of the exercises she's reccomending, although not as well as her by a long shot.

Take care of yourselves boys.
  • + 5
 What's the diagnosis?

Here are a few tips that I found worked.

bike setup:
-run lower pressure in the front tyre
-try new grips. I'm on the Ergon GD1's and they're great.
-run your brakes closer to the bar.
-run reliable brakes.

riding position:
-increase your weight bias onto the rear

Outside of riding massage your wrists (you can do this yourself) and buy a decent ice-pack (the sports ones made of fabric).

Hit us up if you have any questions.

Good luck!
  • + 1
 @dubod22: Thank you for the tips.
  • + 1
 @dubod22: Agreed, I made these changes as well and they helped quite a bit.

I had some of the same issues as OP, although mine were localized to the forearms and thumbs (diagnosis was tendonitis). What helped me:

-Trigger point therapy (through your PT or a product called ArmAid which is excellent)
-Stretching multiple times per day
-Eccentric exercises (Theraputty (your PT will have it) helps for the fingers)
-Anti-inflammatory (NSAID's work short term, I've been using turmeric extract for a while and it seems to help)
-Rest

If you actually broke bones/tendons you may need something completely different though.
  • + 5
 Awesome article, I'm following you now. Is it possible that you write a similar post about tennis elbow?
  • + 2
 Yes, please!
  • + 3
 Of course. I'll put it on the list.
  • + 6
 I'm still waiting on that large belly yoga article...
  • + 1
 And the 'enthusiasm to get out and do exercise' poses.
  • + 2
 Aha, it's almost like you're tracking my injuries!
My recent yoga I have been focusing on my back, due to a crash that nearly broke my spine. But a more recent crash has hurt my wrist, making poses like Cat/Cow and Downward Dog pretty painful to do.
I'm sure these will do me good in the long run! Thanks again Abi.
  • + 3
 Take it super easy, whilst trying to get in as much movement as is safe for you. Hopefully you don't have too many serious injuries in the future!
  • + 2
 On the worst of days there is Troy Lee 5205 wrist protection. For every day there is Spank Vibrocore bars. For a long term forever fix there is the mid-foot pedal position. Put your calf muscle on vacation and weight shifts off of your hands. Abi rocks.
  • + 1
 @yoga15app question for you - I've been told by a physio that the bones in left wrist have actually moved position from riding too much, I now have a lap dip in the outside of my wrist. Do you think that building the strength in my wrist at this point would help with the pain/discomfort I'm experiencing or would it just compound the issue? At this point I'm just trying to put off surgery as long as possible.
  • + 1
 I can't comment on this unfortunately but I would recommend you go back to your physio or find another medical professional to help you rehab your wrist.
  • + 3
 Quick search for Aikido wrist stretches will provide a ton of good ideas to combat sore wrists.
  • + 1
 Thanks for the tip.
  • + 2
 Thanks for this!
Wish I would've caught the shoulder strength/protection installment before I crashed a few weeks back and tore my labrum.
  • + 1
 Oh man! Speedy recovery.
  • + 1
 I have a product suggestion for releasing stuck facia: moji pro. Steel ball bearings are very precise, very strong effect so must be gentle but I've found it much more effective than foam rollers or lacross ball. Thanks Abe!
  • + 2
 Definite scope for self myo-fascial release alongside yoga. They work even better together than separately.
  • + 4
 Trial work cures the limp wristed.
  • + 3
 Thanks Abi! Yoga is great for all
  • + 2
 That's what I'm finding!
  • + 1
 Clear your body, clear your mind, and you will feel a rod you have never felt before if you can sustain at least a 45 min yoga workout
  • + 2
 LOL "i have wrist pain"

"Do the crow"

...right
  • + 1
 turning wrenches for the military and other things I've got me some undiagnosed carpal tunnel.
  • + 2
 Broke my wrist in September, this is perfect
  • + 1
 forgive my ignorance, but is Amy the trainer a MTB/DH rider too or just a yoga specialist?
  • + 1
 Who's Amy?
  • + 2
 Yep, exercise that core muscle for wrist strength is what she said
  • + 2
 Thanks Abi
  • + 1
 CLICK!
  • + 1
 Left is best Wink
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