Picking up the review of Chaturanga Dandasana over the last several weeks in outlining the principles behind the next point:
3. The grip/contact of the hands on the mat
The grip of the hands is a major feature of the overall stability and safety of a pose, when the weight of the body is supported by them. The sheer anatomical complexity of the hands, their influence on the safety of the wrists, and the potential dexterity for which they’ve evolved, requires an investment of mental and physical effort in order to sustain their health.
The most frequent trespass against the proper technique in placing the hands is the shift of weight toward the outer edges of the hands and palms (pic 2). This will place the weight of the body into the medial (ulnar) side of the wrist, which is a fragile and very common site for injury. Without going into the complexity of the wrist, the ulno-carpal joint (pic 3) is susceptible to stress when forced to hold the kind of load that is consistent with supporting the weight of the body through the many vinyasa flows that many students are exposed to in classes.
As illustrated, (pic 1) the proper technique to sustain the wrist in Chaturanga, as well as virtually any pose where the hands support body weight, is to steer the weight support toward the lateral side of the hand by distributing most of it toward the index and middle finger bases (highlighted by green dots). This action is provided by the pronator muscles of the forearm (pic 4), which come into great utility in many other poses such as, AdhoMukha Svanasana (Down dog), and whose strength will create a baseline of support and sustainability throughout the lifetime of one’s practice.
This can also be more inclusively achieved by engaging the index and middle finger tips into the mat (pic 1-highlighted by red dots), which recruits the Flexor digitorum profundus muscle (pic 5) that assists in flexing the wrists and preventing a collapse into the fragility of the aforementioned ulno-carpal joint.
Feel free to email any follow up questions that I may have not addressed so far.
Stay tuned for the final post on deconstructing Chaturanga!