Preventing Wrist Pain in Yoga, Pilates and Gym

Interesting fact…. those of us who are naturally flexible often gravitate to doing things that require flexibility like gymnastics and yoga. Being flexible isn’t the same thing as being strong. In fact, those of us with ‘hypermobility’ (excessive joint movement or ligament laxi-ty) often have unstable joints. An unstable joint cannot be its strongest self!

As yoga gains increasing popularity as an excellent way to maintain fitness and flexibility, some of us in particular the “flexible ladies” find ourselves being limited by wrist pain in holding some of the weight bearing poses such as ‘Downward Dog’ or even doing a ‘Push-up’ in the Gym or a ‘Plank’ at Pilates.

Does downward dog cause you wrist pain?

There are 2 areas of the wrist that commonly are painful with weight bearing. The first is at the base of the thumb and the second is the little finger side of your wrist (called the ulnar side).

Pain at the base of your thumb can be related to early Osteoarthritis. This is very common in women 50 years or older. The pain on the ulnar side of the wrist is often related to a lig-ament called the Triangular Fibrocartilage complex or TFCC. This is a weight bearing structure that thins with age or is easily injured with sports or after a wrist fracture.

Practitioners of Hand Therapy can assess your suitability for simple devices such as gloves with padding and small wrist supports for your situation to reduce your pain with weight bearing and improve your performance. They can supply and fit these for you. 

Some other Tips your Practitioner of Hand Therapy can teach you specific to weight bearing during your chosen activity:

Your Shoulder and Elbow stability & strength is key to protecting your wrists. When weight bearing on your hands remember to:

1)    Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Don’t let your shoulder move forward as this puts more load on your wrists.

2)    Don’t let your elbows bend backwards. Maintain a ‘micro’ bend in your elbow joints.

3)    Keep your palm flat, engage all fingers actively. Place equal weight from little finger to the index finger. Don’t allow the thumb side of the hand to lift up. 

4)    Activate your fingertips with a ‘clawing’ action. 


5)    Think about pushing away from the surface not leaning into it.

6)    Avoid weight bearing on a bar such as the reformer bar in pilates or doing a push-up on a bar in the gym. A flat surface is better as it has more surface area to distribute load through the hand and wrist. Alternatively consider weight bearing on your fore-arms instead. This activates the stabilising muscles in your shoulders.

7)    The wrist is more stable when you weight bear with the forearm in a neutral position. This especially helps with ulnar sided wrist pain.

Contact your local practitioner of hand therapy today should you wish to discuss any in-formation from this article, or to have advice provided specifically for your condition and circumstances.

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