Yoga practitioners of all experience levels agree on the importance of finding a yoga mat that fits your specific needs.
The challenge should come from the stretches not from a poor yoga mat not offering the proper support!
The best yoga mats are going to be comfortable, easy to maintain, and provide support wherever you need it, whether that’s your wrists, back, neck, knees or all of the above.
Over time we reviewed dozens of yoga mats looking for the best yoga mat for bad wrists.
Continue reading to learn more about the criteria we’ve used to judge each of one of these yoga mats to generate our recommendations.
Level of Support
The best yoga mats aren’t hard, but surprisingly the best mats aren’t soft either; they are somewhere in the middle.
This allows a combination of support and comfort that is the hallmark of really good mats. Our recommendations offer the best comfort and support.
Quality of the Mat’s Grip
The grip or stickiness of your yoga mat matters a lot. For example, this prevents you from sliding across the floor during a warrior pose.
Grip applies to how well the yoga mat stays into place on the grass (if outside) or the floor (if inside) as well as how your feet and palms stay on the mat no matter how sweaty you get.
A great yoga mat should be easy to clean, easy to store, and durable. Most yoga mats can be cleaned with vinegar or other homemade cleaning solutions.
Yoga Tips for Bad Wrists
Nearly all yoga class sessions have at least one or two individuals who suffer from wrist problems.
Their problems may be caused by different reasons such as falling hard on an open hand, being injured while doing asanas or spending long hours on a computer keyboard.
Regardless of the reason, the problem may be made worse by exerting excess pressure on the hands when practicing yoga.
But, exerting pressure on the hands is part and parcel of most yoga poses. If you have suffered from a wrist problem before, you may be well aware of how it can make yoga practice unbearable.
Wrist problems can dampen your spirit, especially if you are fond of the Vinyasa style which requires that you bear the weight of your body on your hands, repeatedly.
This is especially true as you do the classic Sun Salutation series, which is typically made up of the Adho Mukha Svanasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Chaturanga Dandasana, and the Plank Pose.
If you are having problems with your wrists, doing any of these poses can cause a considerable amount of pain and injury.
Luckily, a gradual and careful approach of increasing wrist strength and flexibility can help most people to prevent injury or even solve the wrist problems if need be.
How to Avoid Wrist Pain During Yoga
Bearing a lot of weight with your arms can expose various vulnerabilities in your wrists. This is expected as the wrist is a small and fragile joint that is made up of sensitive tissues that are tightly packed in this tiny region.
These tissues include ligaments that hold the bones in the wrist together and tendons that connect your fingers to the forearm muscles that enable you to do amazing things with your hands.
Irritation or strain in these tendons can be one of the reasons you have painful wrists problems.
To really understand the root cause of wrist problems, it is important to familiarize yourself with the structure and function of the wrist joint.
The wrist enables you to undertake numerous motor tasks that involve the thumb and fingers by stabilizing and positioning the hand, which allows you to undertake a wide range of activities such as sewing, drawing, and writing.
Most movements in the wrist joint occur between the radius juncture (one of the forearm bones) and numerous carpal bones which lie deep in the structure of the hand. Other movements occur at the junctures that exist in between the carpal bones.
Major wrist movements include abduction (moving the thumb side of the forearm toward the thumb side of the hand), adduction (moving the little finger side of the forearm toward the little finger side of the hand), extension, and flexion.
In yoga, the most common and most important type of wrist movement is an extension.
To achieve this movement, sit in a chair that has armrests and put either your left or right forearm on one of the armrests, palm facing the ground.
Put your hand up so that your fingers point the ceiling. You have now felt the extension movement in your wrist.
If you move your hand over the edge of the armrest and point your fingers toward the ground, you will have now done the flexion movement.
It is highly likely that for the most part of the day, your wrist stays in mild extension. Your hand is able to function best in this position.
Your wrist, therefore, spends a limited amount of time every day in the full extension or full flexion position.
Now, because the wrist is similar to other joints in the body, it is capable of losing its range of motion if it isn’t exercised regularly.
Most people find themselves losing the ability to do a full wrist extension (90-degree angle between the forearm and hand) after some time.
However, as soon as you try a yoga pose that exerts pressure on your hands, you force your wrists into extension.
Numerous poses in the Sun Salutation series like the Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Chaturanga Dandasana, and Plank Pose forces the wrist into full extension. Performing these poses repeatedly can stretch out your wrist to its full range.
Arm balances such as the Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) and Bakasana (Crane Pose) can make the situation worse by increasing the amount of weight your hands have to carry while in full extension.
A heavy load combined with an extreme range of motion and multiple repetitions can all add salt into injury.
After all of this bashing, you can surely expect your wrists to start acting up sooner or later.
It is my belief that most wrists problems experienced by yoga students are as a result of tendons and ligaments being forced into full extension beyond their usual range of motion.
Modifying Yoga Poses for Wrist Pain
If your wrists are sore from doing the sane demanding poses over and over again, you may need to take a break from yoga to give your wrists some time to heal.
The soreness and pain should subside after a couple of weeks, after which you can begin rehabilitating the wrists gradually using occasional weight bearing tasks and gentle stretching of wrists as well.
Prior to resuming practicing poses that require 90-degree movements of the wrists, it may be a good idea to first establish how far your wrists can actually go.
You can achieve this by reaching your knees and hands with your hands directly beneath your shoulders.
Do you feel comfortable in this position?
If not, you should gradually and gently attempt to increase the range of your wrist extension.
You can do this easily by placing your hands together in the Prayer or Anjali Mudra Position over your chest.
Ensure that the heel of your hands remain together with your fingers pointing upwards and gradually press run your hands down toward your abdomen.
Ensure that the heels stay together in order to maintain the extension movement. If you practice this exercise at least one or twice a day, you will be able to increase the range of motion of your wrists.
I highly recommend that amateur yoga practitioners and any person with wrist problems to always do weight bearing poses slowly.
You should never rush to complete the Sun Salutations series but rather look to spend some time every day on your knees and hands.
By doing so, you apply minimal pressure on your hands, thus allowing your wrists to become strong and healthy.
On knees and hands, it is possible to adjust the range of extension of your wrists.
If putting your hands directly beneath your shoulders feels too uncomfortable, you can opt to shift your hands a little bit over your shoulders to reduce the impact of this position on your wrists.
As your wrists gradually stretch more with time, it is important to also work them back under your shoulders.
Also, as your wrists gain endurance and range of motion, you can begin to exert more weight on them by adjusting this position, raising your knees momentarily into the Plank Pose.
You should gradually increase endurance in Plank and then move ahead to the Sun Salutations.
There are other poses that can help improve your wrists’ weight-bearing capabilities.
Adho Mukha Svanasana, for instance, applies pressure on the wrists without forcing them to do a 90-degree extension – meaning less pain when compared to full extension positions.
Downward Dog is a very effective way to improve both shoulder and arm strength, which prepares you for poses such as the Handstand and Plank.
Using Yoga Props to Safeguarding Your Wrists
If you are generally weak, you may need to practice a modified version of the Plank and Downward Dog with the help of a chair.
Use an armless chair. Place a sticky mat on top of the seat to pad the heels of your hands.
Next, put your hands on the top of the seat with your fingers pointed sideways instead of forward.
Wind your fingers around the seat and walk your legs backward until your body is in a straight line position from ear to shoulder to hip to heel. This is a modified Plank position.
To avoid injuring your wrists, ensure that heels are in front of or beneath the shoulders. Take a couple of breaths and retract your thigh bones into the Downward Dog.
Doing this routine every day can help to improve the strength of your shoulders, arms, and wrists, as well as help you to gradually teach your wrists to handle heavy weights.
You can make use of other props to boost the weight-bearing capabilities of your hands.
You can shift weight from your hands in the Upward-facing or Urdhva Dhanurasana pose by raising your heels on the surface of two yoga blocks positioned shoulder-width apart against a wall.
Position each block on a sticky mat and lean them against the wall.
Using a folded sticky yoga mat or wood wedge or a foam under your heels can also help to reduce the sharp extension angle of the wrists when doing various arm balances and the Plank Pose.
It is also possible to get relief from wrist problems in Plank and arm balances by taking hold of dumbbells that point to the direction of the front edge so that your wrists stay in a neutral position.
Preferably, use dumbbells that have square weights instead of round ones to prevent rolling.
You should exercise caution when you start doing arm balances using dumbbells and wedges as these props affect your alignment and center of gravity. These positions may feel a little bit awkward or unfamiliar in the early stages.
Working to align your hands, arms and shoulders can also help to reduce the pressure exerted on your wrists. In the Downward Dog Pose, for instance, many students direct their body weight to their heels.
Rather than doing this, direct your weight to your knuckles where your palms joint the fingers. Stretch the fingers and lift the forearms up out of the wrist joints.
You can try doing this every time you feel you are exerting to much weight on your hands.
The wrist is a very complex body part that is prone to complications that arise from an unusual extension.
If you suffer from severe wrist problems such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, previous surgery or fracture sites that are painful and stiff, please talk to a qualified medical professional before trying any intense yoga poses.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a quite common condition that occurs when the narrow tunnel formed by the wrist ligaments and the carpal bones exert pressure on the finger flexor tendons and median nerve that pass through the tunnel.
If you suspect that you have this condition, it is crucial that you seek the proper diagnosis from a trained medical professional.
Treatment for this condition typically involves surgery, splints, and medication.
Regardless of the current condition of your wrists, be it really painful, in remission or maybe even problem-free, it is good to point out that yoga is meant to be good and healthy for you.
Always ensure that you aren’t putting unnecessary pressure on your wrists through yoga.
If you have already done so, start making use of gentle poses that have been highlighted above to allow your wrists to recover and gain some much-needed endurance, flexibility, and strength.