Wrist Stretches to Improve Flexibility and Avoid Injury
Wrist stretches are something you might not consider as part of a typical stretching routine. However, your wrists are an invaluable part of your everyday life. They affect every aspect of your daily routine, and it makes sense to take simple steps to protect them.
There are small steps you can take to protect the strength and mobility of your wrists. Simple, daily stretches can improve your flexibility and range of motion, and greatly reduce your risk of injury.
Stretching also keeps the muscles surrounding the wrist and hand supple and long, which helps to avoid injury and strain. These stretches are very effective at reducing the risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
The wrist is made up of 8 small bones called carpal bones. These bones are connected by ligaments, as a ligament is the connector between two bones. So when you have a “wrist strain,” it is nearly always a strain to the ligament connecting two of these small bones.
There are 2 main types of wrist injuries:
- Traumatic – a single event that results in injury. Common in contact sports, such as football.
- Motion Repetitive (Overuse) – a result of repeating a motion or activity on a frequent basis over time.
Wrist injuries are very common in athletics – both Traumatic and Motion Repetitive.
Some activities have a particularly high rate of wrist injury:
- 9% of all athletic injuries
- 14% of High School football injuries
- Nearly 90% of Gymnasts suffer wrist injuries
Resistance training also puts great demand on the wrists. I have suffered numerous wrist injuries during resistance training, and all were avoidable.
None were serious injuries that required orthopedic treatment. Just the slight nagging pain that stays with you for several weeks, and restricts your ability to perform your normal workout routine…everything is modified.
Another injury I sustained that was avoidable with proper wrist stretching was tennis elbow. I sustained this injury during resistance training, not playing tennis. It was not a nagging pain – it was real pain.
This injury required a trip to the orthopedic, as I could not even fully extend my arm and grip a barbell. It was one of the most debilitating injuries I have sustained, and it affected me for 5 months.
The orthopedic advised me that a key way to avoid this in the future was better warm-up, and he gave me a number of stretches that I have outlined below. I am so thankful for this advice, as my wrists, forearms, and elbows have remained injury-free for years now.
Really important to perform these stretches as preventative…don’t wait for an injury!
I have learned from these mistakes, and now stretch my wrists and forearms prior to every workout routine. It has paid off – I have never suffered a wrist injury when my wrists are properly warmed and stretched.
There is a lot of truth in the old adage “A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure.”
Wrist Stretching Routines
First, prior to any physical activity, do some light cardio to warm and slightly stretch the muscles. The light cardio I generally perform is jumping up and down in place for several minutes, or jogging in place. During this 2-3 minute cardio warm-up, I am stretching my wrists in nearly every direction the entire time.
All controlled movements – nothing jerky, but feeling the stretch in my fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, and elbows. I want to engage every muscle, tendon, and ligament from the elbow down.
Next, I perform the following wrist stretches. I perform these prior to my workout, during my workout, and after my workout. I also perform when I wake in the morning, and prior to any physical activity.
Wrist Stretch on Wall
This is a great stretch prior to your workout. Perform this stretch with the hands down (as shown), and also the hands up. Very controlled and you can exert solid pressure using your body to really get a good stretch.
Wrist Stretch Up & Down
Simple and effective stretch to keep your wrists supple and also warm-up prior to workout. Do this with both wrists both up and down position, and hold each for 10-15 seconds.
A last really effective exercise to perform is to position your hands as if you are riding a motorcycle.
Then the stretching motion is to simulate that you are revving the handles, back and forth for 30 seconds. This will really work the tendons, ligaments, and muscles in and around your wrists.
Avoiding Wrist Injury
Consistent wrist stretches will help your wrists to stay supple and fluid. As you age (35+), your wrists will become more susceptible to strains and injury when working out. The very best way to avoid these injuries is to stretch your wrists as shown above before and after each workout. If your wrists are supple and flexible it will greatly reduce your chance of wrist injury. This is an important part of your overall fitness approach, as a wrist injury can be so debilitating and stop your workouts cold turkey for months.