Wrist exercises for yoga practice and for daily life

Wrist Flossing: Yoga for Your Wrists

Nina Zolotow, RYT 500
Updated: 
September 16, 2021

Yesterday I read a brief article in The New York Times titled “3 Ways to Relieve Work-From-Home Pains.” In the article, A.C. Shilton recommended some wrist stretches—yoga for your wrists— for people who have been working at home and spending a lot of time on their computers. 

The author said:

“‘Working all day at a computer can lead to overuse of some wrist muscles and underuse of others,’ said Abby Bales, a New York City-based physical therapist. Stretching your wrist flexors and extensors ‘prevents the wrist from getting locked into a smaller range.’”

What is Wrist Flossing?

So I thought this would be a good time to revisit “wrist flossing” because it’s actually more complete—and probably more effective—than the stretches in The New York Times. This yoga sequence for your wrists was developed by Tom Alden, a chiropractor as well as a yoga teacher, and was featured in Timothy McCall's book Yoga As Medicine, a book that I helped to edit and for which I produced the photoshoot. 

That’s when I learned about wrist flossing for the first time. This is a wonderful sequence you can do if you want to give your hands and wrists a break after marathon typing sessions, if you have wrist problems, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, or if you have overworked your wrists doing yoga with a lot of weight-bearing on your hands. Yoga for your wrists can help relieve over-stressed hands and wrists.

How to Practice Yoga for Your Wrists

There are three different “flossing” movements:

Palms Down 

A palms facing down exercise for maintaining healthy wrists

  1. Start by interlacing your fingers and turning your palms to face the ground. Move your elbows out the sides, so both arms are parallel to the floor. 

  2. Gently pull your wrists apart, so you feel slight traction, then raise your right arm and lower your left, bringing your right wrist into a forward bend and your left wrist into a backbend. Allow your right arm to do all the work, while your left arm is passive.

  3. Repeat the movement on the other side by using your left arm to do all the work while your right arm is passive. Go back and forth any number of times. The video of this movement is below:

Palms Facing You

How to exercise or floss your wrists for overall healthy wrists

  1. Start by interlacing your fingers and turning your palms in to face the ground. Move your elbows out the sides, so both arms are parallel to the floor. 

  2. Now turn your palms inward, to face you. Gently pull your wrists apart, so you feel a slight traction, then move your right arm outward and your left inward, bringing your right wrist into a forward bend and your left wrist into a backbend. Allow your right arm to do all the work, while your left arm is passive.

  3. Repeat the movement on the other side by using your left arm to do all the work while your right arm is passive. Go back and forth any number of times. The video of this movement is below:

Palms Facing Away

A palms facing away exercise for maintaining healthy wrists

  1. Start by interlacing your fingers and turning your palms to face the ground. Move your elbows out the sides, so both arms are parallel to the floor. 

  2. Now turn your palms outward, so they face away from you. Gently pull your wrists apart, so you feel slight traction, then move your right arm inward and your left outward, bringing your right wrist into a forward bend and your left wrist into a backbend. Allow your right arm to do all the work, while your left arm is passive. 

  3. Repeat the movement on the other side by using your left arm to do all the work while your right arm is passive. Go back and forth any number of times. The video of this movement is below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reprinted with permission from Yogafortimesofchange.com

Three wrist flossing images and wrist flossing practices courtesy of Tom Alden.

Nina ZolotowNina Zolotow, RYT 500, the author of the forthcoming book “Yoga for Times of Change” and the Editor-in-Chief of the Yoga for Healthy Aging blog, is both a yoga writer and a yoga teacher. She trained to be a yoga teacher at The Yoga Room in Berkeley, California, has studied yoga therapy with Shari Ser and Bonnie Maeda, and is especially influenced by the teachings of Donald Moyer. She also studied extensively with Rodney Yee and is inspired by the teachings of Patricia Walden on yoga for emotional healing. Her special area of expertise is yoga for emotional well-being (including yoga for stress, insomnia, depression, and anxiety) and she teaches workshops and series classes on yoga for emotional well-being, stress management, better sleep, home practice, and cultivating equanimity. 

Nina is the co-author with Baxter Bell of Yoga for Healthy Aging: A Guide to Lifelong Well-Being and co-author with Rodney Yee of Yoga: The Poetry of the Body (with its companion 50 Card Practice Deck) and Moving Toward Balance.  She is also the author of numerous articles on yoga and alternative medicine.