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You Asked: Wrist Pain From Pilates?

Dear Fit,
One of my goals for 2009 was to return to my regular Pilates that I had been skipping for over two months. The night after my first class, as well as the next morning, the bones in my wrists and lower forearms ached. It was a general, dull ache that definitely seemed to be the bones and not the muscle. It’s not the first time this has happened from Pilates either. We did do a variety of plank exercises but I don’t understand why my bones would hurt. Do you know what it might be?
— Pilates Gal in Pain

I think it is great that you made it back to your Pilates class, and your complaint of wrist and forearm pain is a familiar one. Upon returning to a fitness class, be it Pilates or a vigorous yoga class with many vinyasas (the transition that involves a push-up like motion), the wrists can become strained. To learn what I think is going on and how to prevent it,


Anatomically speaking, the bulk of the muscles in the forearm are much closer to the elbow than the wrist and in the lower forearm, the muscles run under tendons and really hug the bones. So if the muscles are sore, the pain can feel deep. Add to that referred nerve pain; the nerves of the wrist can get easily compressed after many planks and push-ups. The referred pain can feel deep and general in the wrist area. I feel your pain — I get a numbness in the lower third of my forearms from overuse (combo of typing, planks, and biking) and it is often delayed and comes on the following morning or day.

There are many ways to avoid compressing your wrists and side-step this pain. Rather than bearing weight on your hands, you should work on your forearms as much as possible. Yes, elbow planks are harder, but you will just get stronger. Also, if the mat you use in Pilates is squishy, it is hard to stabilize the wrist. So ask the instructor to not only check your form but also to suggest a few props to help you keep your wrist in a better position. Stretching your wrists will help too. Good luck!


reills reills 8 years
When doing plank, to avoid wrist pain I make a fist and support my weight on my knuckles. This makes a straight line from my wrists through my arms and I don't feel any pain, while still getting the full benefit of plank. It's true that working on a mat will exaggerate the pain, so even working on the floor might improve things too.
SKC-Sparkle SKC-Sparkle 8 years
Thanks for the advice - I will try this!
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
Good to know!! I have weak wrists from a job that requires me to be on the computer all day.
Advah Advah 8 years
Oh great post - I have funny wrists and planks or certain yoga poses are really painful. I'll def try the elbow version!
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
I've never noticed any wrist pain associated with pilates. But I know with the plank exercises you're supposed to be using more of your abs to support your body than your arms/wrist so maybe it is just a matter of working on form?
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 8 years
I love Pilates, but I get wrist pain on occasion myself. I also notice that when I to a T-Stand on my right elbow, it's slightly painful. At least I have enough strength to do them on my hands.
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