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5 yoga poses for wrist pain

Each month, yoga coach Gwen Lawrence shows us the best poses for athletes. As always, consult a doctor before you begin any new exercise program.

Whether you're a pro athlete -- or a keyboard warrior spending hours pounding away at your desk each day -- wrist care is important and makes sense. As an athlete, you need to have grip strength, be able to absorb falls and have powerful arm strength. One key to gaining those qualities is a supple wrist. If you're at your desk all day you're overdeveloping all the tiny muscles in your hands and wrists, which can then develop chronic pain.

Try these wrist openers to gain freedom in your hands and wrists.

Reclining seated mountain

To properly open a joint, you need to stretch surrounding joints and muscles at the same time. This pose accomplishes that for you.

Keys to the pose:

* Start on the floor, sitting up straight.

* Place your hands on the floor behind you. Play around with the direction the fingers point according to where you feel the best stretch. Whatever you choose, be sure your hands are symmetrical to each other.

* Lean back on your hands, with your palms flat and fingers spread evenly.

* Inhale, lengthen your spine and push the floor away. Then exhale, open your chest and heart forward, while squeezing the shoulder blades together behind you.

* Do this move for one minute of focus and breathing.


Inverted table

This move takes the reclining seated mountain to the next level. You might want to progress to this once you feel you are executing the previous pose well. You will continue to stretch the entire shoulder girdle, forearms and wrists. Then progressively add the strength element of the arms when you lift up, making it a well-rounded yoga move.

Keys to the pose:

* Start sitting, and place your hands on the floor behind you with your fingers spread and palms flat.

* Make sure you find the optimal direction for your fingers to point for the best stretch for you. Keep your knees bent and feet flat. Distribute your weight evenly between your feet and hands.

* Inhale and lift your hips off the floor, aiming to eventually lift them as high as your knees. Exhale, then lower back down.

* When you're in the lift, push evenly into your hands, pushing the floor away, and gently squeezing your shoulder blades toward each other. Pause before you lower.

* Do this for 1-3 minutes depending on your ability.


Downward facing dog

The beauty of this pose is that you get a less direct, gently angled stretch on the wrist joint, while strengthening all the shoulder and arm muscles at the same time.

Keys to the pose:

* Set your hands shoulder-width apart, with palms flat and fingers spread out evenly.

* Your feet should be approximately hip-width apart. For the purposes of your wrists, do this pose with bent knees.

* Inhale and push the floor away, then exhale gently and drop your head down toward the mat.

* Breathe and hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute.


Wrist turns

This pose is the kingpin stretch for the wrists and should be considered as an everyday move if you are experiencing tightness and pain in the wrist joint. Approach this move slowly and mindfully, so as not to be too aggressive when you first do it.

Keys to the pose:

* Start on your hands and knees. Make sure your wrist joint is directly under your shoulder joint.

* Stretch one wrist at a time. Turn the right wrist to the right, moving a little more each time until one day, your fingers are pointed toward your body.

* Inhale, push the floor away, lengthen the neck out of your shoulders and hold for 30 seconds. Slowly come out of it and switch sides.

* Do this move two times on each side.


Reverse wrist openers

All the previous moves focus on a flexing stretch of the wrist joint -- this move is unique, because you will finally feel an amazing extension stretch. It might feel strange at first because it's not a stretch you do or feel regularly, so approach it slowly and, before you know it, the small muscles in the wrist joint will begin to release and you will finally experience new freedom and flexibility in the wrists.

Keys to the pose:

* Start on your hands and knees. Bring your left wrist under your shoulders, palm facing up. Spread your fingers evenly.

* Put your right hand on top of your left wrist to gently press down on the left hand.

* Lean into the stretch until you reach your limit, then hold and breathe for 30 seconds to one minute.

* To come out of it, lean away from the stretch and slowly release your left wrist.

* Repeat the move on your right hand.