Wrist Pain or Weak Core in Plank Pose? Prop It Up

Plank Pose in Yoga, a very common pose that we see in other training too. It's an excellent pose to discover and improve the strength of muscles on the belly.

I don't think Plank pose is an original Yoga pose. You can still find its Sanskrit name somewhere on the Internet, but I think Plank (and also High Lunge) are originated in other forms of exercise. To me, Plank is the modification of the original Chaturanga Dandasana. If you look at the Ashtanga Series, you will see no Plank, only Chaturanga Dandasana. Chaturanga is a hard Yoga pose that requires the strength of the whole body and strong connection between the upper and lower body. Perhaps Plank is a good step to Chaturanga.

In Plank pose, just like its name, the whole body is strong, as hard as a wooden plank. We are almost horizontal in Plank, so the whole body will have to fight against gravity, which strengthens the whole body and especially in the abdomens. To someone who is new to Yoga, and not used to holding weight with their arms, holding Plank pose is a challenge.

As a Yoga beginner, you can do Plank with your knees on the floor. This pose is called Half Plank. It's different from Table Pose. We don't flex the hips in Half Plank pose but maintain one straight line from our knees to our head. From Half Plank, we can also do Half Chaturanga - also a great modification for Yoga newbies.

If you have wrist pain in Plank pose, try holding the edge of the blocks like I'm doing in the picture below. Preferable hard blocks such as cork or wooden blocks. Or instead of pressing the palms down, do Plank pose on your knuckles. By making the fists, you are not putting weight on extended wrists.

If neither of the above helps, try Forearm Plank instead!


Try the pose on two blocks, in this case, I would prefer styrofoam blocks so that it's softer. Now your Plank pose is as high as a normal Plank pose but without putting stress into your wrists. You can even try moving to Down Dog from here. With the blocks, your elbows and forearm bones don't crush on the floor but on pretty soft Yoga blocks.

This was a way to do Plank and Down Dog that I introduced to some students when they have problems in wrist joints, but still want to do Yoga. The class I give them is mostly standing Yoga poses and balance on one leg, very few Vinyasa Flow, and by doing Forearm, they can do and benefit from most of the class.

An option is to clasp your hands like in Dolphin Pose. And just like in Plank pose, we can bring the knees down to the floor to make it an easier pose for Yoga beginners.

doing plank on forearm with knees on the floor, for yoga beginners

So you can see that Forearm Plank is a great substitution for Plank to people who have wrist pain and problems. When you put your forearms on the floor, they are not used to bearing body weight, the muscles are not strong enough to hold, therefore the shoulders tend to collaps and the elbows slide away from each other. We need to ¨hug the elbows in¨, which is an easier way to understand ¨shoulder external rotation¨.

As a Yoga teacher, I encourage everyone to find and do this action on their own. However, to many Yoga beginners, to make them feel it, I use strap to loop around their upper arms. The strap should be just a bit more narrow than the shoulders to keep the forearms parallel to each other.

Then as you move on your Yoga practice, you will not need the strap any more to find shoulder joint stability.