. Wrist Injury Singapore | The Impact Of Yoga On Wrists

Common Wrist Injuries Associated With Yoga

woman doing yoga and balancing weight on wrist We’ve all heard about the benefits of yoga, and how regular yoga practice can lower stress levels, help you sleep better at night, as well as increase your strength and flexibility. However, if one is not careful in his/her practice, yoga can also increase one’s risk of injury to the lower back, neck, hamstrings, and especially the wrist.   The wrist is one of the weaker joints of the body, and thus more prone to injuries. Despite its benefits, yoga is one of the main causes of wrist pain in many yogis and all who practice it. This is because the poses, also known as asanas, especially in Vinyasa and Ashtanga practices, put a lot of stress on the hands and wrists.   Wrist Anatomy   Anatomy of Wrist   The wrist is a joint that connects our hand to the forearm. It is made up of the distal ends of the radius and ulna bones, eight carpal bones, as well as the proximal ends of five metacarpal bones. On the little finger side of the wrist, there is the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) between the radius and ulna. The TFCC helps absorb compression in our wrist and stabilises it in certain positions.   Due to its anatomical structure, the wrist can flex and extend, as well as move from side to side. The wrists facilitate the movement of turning your palms up and down; it is this ability to pronate the forearm that allows us to plant our hands palm-side down on the floor, and bear weight through our arms. But it’s not all about the joint.   Muscles running down from our elbows to the fingertips are held in place by fibrous structures to provide a better and more effective grip. Furthermore, there are three nerves that pass over the wrist: the median and ulnar nerves on the palm side, as well as the radial nerve on the thumb side of the back.   Wrist Injuries Associated With Yoga   Common Yoga Poses that require wrists   Many yoga poses require you to be on your wrists. Poses such as the downward-facing dog, plank, side-plank, chaturanga, crow, handstands, and other arm balances, when done incorrectly can aggravate wrist pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. As such, many hand specialists in Singapore and yoga instructors often emphasise taking time to focus on hand and wrist alignment, even for the most basic poses.   In this section, we share two of the most common injuries sustained by people who practise yoga.   1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by increased pressure on the median nerve of the wrist. Usually, there is space in the carpal tunnel for the median nerve to move around, however, if the tunnel narrows, there will be pressure on the median nerve. In turn, many people who suffer from CTS often complain about numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in both their hands as well as wrist.   Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome   For those with CTS, symptoms are brought on by yoga positions involving the straightening of arms and wrist extensions, and moving out of the position makes the symptoms go away. As such, most yogis in Singapore do not notice the symptoms of CTS and seek treatment for their wrist pain immediately.   2. Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex Injuries As mentioned earlier, the TFCC is an area in your wrist, located between the radius and ulna. The TFCC is responsible for stabilising your forearm bones when you grasp something with your hand.    During yoga, especially when doing arm balancing poses, uneven weight distribution can result in one falling or landing on his/her outstretched hand. This results in damage to the cartilage, tendons, or ligaments such as the TFCC. Yogis who often put pressure on their wrists also have a higher risk of developing TFCC injuries.   One of the main symptoms of a wrist injury caused by a TFCC sprain or tear is pain along the inside of your wrist. Some patients may also feel pain throughout their entire wrists. The pain can be constant or only felt when one moves his/her wrist.   Other symptoms of a TFCC injury include: 
  • Tenderness
  • Weakness
  • Instability 
  • A clicking or popping sound upon wrist movement
  Yoga has many benefits for the mind and body, and wrist pain does not have to be avoided by giving up yoga practice. Instead, it is important to be aware of your body and keep your form in check to prevent yourself from sustaining any wrist injury.   Tips To Prevent Wrist Injury In Yoga Prevention is always better than cure, and a handy tip is to gain better grounding through your hands from your shoulders whilst performing yoga poses. Start bringing awareness to your shoulder blades and draw them together to ground your hands. From here you should push your weight to your fingertips before lifting the wrists. By doing this, it helps take the pressure off your carpal tunnel, in turn, protecting your median nerve.   woman doing yoga   However, it may still be too much for beginners to achieve the proper alignment in a position that requires the full weight spread evenly on their hands. Beginners should start with exercises that do not require too much weight placed on their wrists, like using your forearms to bear weight in a plank position.   Treatment Nonetheless, you should see a doctor or hand specialist if your wrist injury continues to cause you discomfort, or if you are experiencing persistent pain in the area despite sufficient rest.   Even though there are many options available such as wearing a wrist brace or modifying your poses to treat the pain associated with wrist injuries and yoga, it is best to always check in with a hand and wrist specialist in Singapore. By conducting a thorough physical examination and possibly further imaging studies, they can better understand your condition and come up with an individualised treatment plan for you.   Remember to always stay mindful of your practice and be sure to listen to your body.    With the right assessment and modification, yoga wrist pain is manageable. Address it early by seeking the advice of Dr Jacqueline Tan, a hand and wrist specialist in Singapore.