Arm Balances to Build Wrist Strength?

Dan Currie graduated from our 2021-22 Yoga Teacher Training Program, and wrote this blog post about wrist strengthening as part of the program. Check out his suggestions for building stronger wrists (and perhaps decreasing computer-related wrist pain) below! You can catch Dan teaching Sunrise Flow on Thursday mornings until the end of September.

When I started to learn how to do arm balances like crow pose, I had an unexpected benefit. I  noticed I wasn’t feeling the same wrist pain after using the computer that I had been  experiencing for years. The time spent doing different wrist activations and being in poses that  loaded my wrists had built their strength and increased their capacity to support me.  

Wrist pain isn’t always due to wrists not being strong, so learning arm balances or strengthening prep work for them might not reduce the pain you may experience in your wrist.  If you do have wrist pain, you may want to consider seeking advice from your doctor or physio  therapist before trying the wrist activations and poses that follow.

Exercise #1: Palm push-ups

Come to a table pose, but move your hands closer to your knees.  Keeping your shoulders over your wrists, lift your thumbs, press into your fingertips and  knuckles and peel the palm of your hand off the floor. If you can easily do more than 8-12 repetitions, place your hands a bit further away from your knees. Do 3 sets of 8-12 palm pushups a 2-3 times a week, to build the strength and capacity of your wrist. You’ll notice that as  the weeks go by, you’ll have to place your hands further and further from your knees to stay in  the 8-12 rep range. I’ve seen one person do palm push-ups from a toe plank. That takes a lot  of strength and time to progress too. I can’t do that yet, but I hope to one day 🙂 

Exercise # 2: Walk your hands on their different surfaces

Like the palm push-ups, start in table with hands placed close to your knees. Then, starting palm down rotate your hands so they point to the sides or towards your knees. Place the pinky edge of your hands on the floor and  move your hands to point in different directions. Do the same thing on the thumb/index finger  side of your hand and the back of your hand. Always start with your hands placed close to your knees, until you feel comfortable and strong to move them further away, because the further  your hands are from your knees, the greater the load is on your hands. 

Exercise #3: Plank Pose

My last recommendation to get you started building wrist strength is plank pose. Holding a  plank (with knees up or down) for a minute will help get your hands/wrists used to supporting your weight for that  period of time. You can progress this by holding the plank for longer periods of time (maybe  increasing by 15-30 seconds every week) or by elevating your feet on a block or chair or using a  wall to increase the load supported by your hands. 

Once you build the strength of your wrist, holding all of those fun arm balancing will start to  become easier and hopefully, like me, your wrists won’t hurt after using a computer all day! 


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