Practicing Yoga With Hyperextended Elbows

April 4, 2023

Transcript of: Practicing yoga with hyperextended elbows

Hello! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. I’m David Keil and every month I answer a question that got submitted through the website. You can go to and submit your own question. And by the way, don’t forget to hit the subscribe button as well. This month’s question comes from Bruna and it’s about practicing yoga with hyperextended elbows.

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The Question:

“I have naturally hyperextended elbows. I don’t have any pain when I lock out the elbows [in yoga]. I had some problems and pain with my right shoulder months ago, and still today it feels sore sometimes, in particular in adho mukha svanasana and urdhva dhanurasana. I was wondering if it can be related. My question is if you ever studied anyone with hyperextended elbows, and if so, do you have suggestions about it? I practice Ashtanga yoga.
Thank you.”

The Answer:

Okay, good question. Yes, I’ve dealt with many people in yoga who have hyperextended elbows. The first thing to remember is that this is just the way your bones are put together, or their shape if you will. It’s not that you’re doing anything wrong to make them hyperextend.

The potential problem with it is, when you have hyperextended elbows in yoga, the weight that passes through your arm when you’re managing your body weight, tends to go through the bones. It always does to a degree, but in this case, it’s to a higher degree. That means that there is less of a degree of the muscular strength being utilized around the elbow joint. So sometimes it can play itself out as a lack of development of the strength of some of the arm muscles, like the triceps for instance. So, just be mindful of that part.

Typically, people with hyperextended elbows in yoga don’t necessarily run into elbow pain as a result of that. I’ve seen many people practice for many years and never have a problem with their elbow. And of course, there are people who do. But, you’re not complaining about elbow pain.

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Are my hyperextended elbows related to my shoulder pain?

You asked how it plays in, and if it is connected to the shoulder pain that you talked about. It could be, because remember, there’s a relationship between hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. And particularly those joints, they kind of function together. When you have a hyperextended elbow, there’s a sort of a force, weight, or however you want to describe it, that passes through this whole thing. It almost bypasses the elbow in terms of management. Like, how you’re managing that weight, force, etc. So, it tends to go, in a sense—don’t take it too literally—from the floor, through your hand, and straight into your shoulder. This means you would have to have an even stronger shoulder girdle set up and created in order to manage that. So yes, they could be related.

I’ve got loads of articles on the website about serratus anterior which is my go-to. It’s in the book as well. Serratus is the muscle that you would want to make sure that you are creating strength in. Okay? I don’t have enough details about where you feel what you feel in adho mukha svanasana and urdhva dhanurasana to give you any more details on that. But that would be a general relationship. And it’s good for everybody to remember this. Each joint contributes to the overall strength and function, and blockage almost. And any one of these can disburse that force more strongly into the other joints that make up that chain.

Alright? I hope that helped. Thanks for your question. Anybody else, if you’ve got a question, you know what to do. Go to