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Stiffness or pain to the wrists can often be associated with daily activities when undertaking repetitive movements, such as typing and even driving. Discomfort can also be caused by weakness to the wrist joint, or medical conditions such as arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
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Although common, it’s possible to alleviate these symptoms by performing some specific exercises to reduce wrist pain.
In this article we’ll go over some of the best stretches and exercises helping you to improve your wrist strength and mobility.
How Do I Know If I Have Weak Wrists?
The wrist joint comprises of several bones and ligaments and weakness can occur with overuse.
For example, this may happen if you spend much of your day undertaking repetitive motions such as typing or driving.
If you find you have symptoms such as a dull ache or pain, numbness or tinging, this could be a sign that you have weak wrists.
When performing certain activities that involve lifting weight, such as strength training or even lifting and moving heavy boxes or furniture, it’s important to keep your wrists in a neutral position to minimise any stress placed upon the joints.
Age can also play a part in a weakening to the wrists. This can be wear and tear or reduced mobility.
This highlights the importance of performing regular stretching and exercises that help to increase and improve flexibility to not only the wrist joints, but all joints across the body.
6 Wrist Exercises To Stretch & Reduce Pain
When performed regularly the below wrist stretching exercises can help to improve range of motion and build strong wrists.
They include a combination of stretches which will help to improve mobility and also exercises aimed at increasing strength which will improve stability.
The first group of exercises are what’s known as active range of motion (AROM). They comprise of both dynamic and static stretching to increase flexibility and blood flow.
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Perform these first before moving onto the strength-based exercises. It’s important to execute each movement with a full range of motion without feeling any pain or discomfort.
Radial and Ulnar Deviation Stretch
How To Perform The Radial & Deviation Stretch:
- Hold one arm out in front of you but have your hand positioned sideways in a chopping style motion. Your palm should be facing inwards.
- Slowly bend the wrist joint down so your fingers begin to aim towards the floor.
- Hold briefly then return.
- From here, bend the wrist joint upwards so that your fingers start to point upwards.
- Repeat around 8 to 10 times in each direction before switching hands.
Wrist Supination and Pronation
How To Perform A Wrist Supination & Pronation Stretch:
- Start by tucking your elbow into your side so that your arm is bent to a 90-degree angle.
- Keep your forearm out straight and ensure the palm of your hand is facing towards the ceiling.
- Carefully rotate the wrist until your palm is now facing towards the floor.
- Rotate the wrist in either direction for 8 to 10 repetitions and then switch to the other hand.
Flexion and Extension Stretch
How To Perform A Flexion & Extension Stretch:
- Start by holding your arm straight out in front of you with your palm facing the floor.
- Curl your wrists downward. Simultaneously curl your fingers so your hand forms a full fist.
- You should feel a gentle stretch across the top of your wrist.
- Hold this for a second or two before bringing the hand back up.
- Bringing the hand all the way back so your hand bends back at the wrists.
- You should see the back of your hand with palm facing away from you.
- At the top of the movement, your fingers should be splayed out.
- Perform this stretch several times before switching to the opposite hand.
Wrist Extensor Stretch
How To Perform A Wrist Extensor Stretch:
- Extend one arm so that it’s straight out in front of you.
- Your palm should be in a pronated position (facing the floor).
- Flex your wrist upwards so you can see the back of your hand.
- From here, take your free hand and take hold of the fingers of the opposite hand.
- Carefully apply pressure by pulling your fingers towards you. Hold for around 15 to 20 seconds.
- Do not force your wrists as this could result in injury.
- You should feel a stretch to the wrist and along the forearm muscles but no pain.
Wrist Flexor Stretch
How To Perform A Wrist Flexor Stretch:
- Extend your arm out in front of you with your palm facing down.
- Flex your wrist and lower your fingers towards the ground.
- Take your freehand and place it across the band of your opposite hand.
- Slowly pull your outstretched hand towards you. Hold this for about 20 seconds.
As with the extensor stretch, do not force your wrist, and stop if you feel any pain.
How To Perform A Prayer Stretch:
- Place you palms together and position them directly in front of your chest, in a prayer position.
- Keeping your hands against your body, start to lower them down.
- Ensure your palms remain together throughout and drop them as low as possible.
- You should feel a stretch across your wrists, triceps, and anterior deltoids.
Rehabilitation Wrist Exercises For Injury
Once you’ve performed the above wrist stretching exercises, you can now move onto the next group of exercises which apply gentle resistance aimed at improving strength to the wrist joint.
These are also good to perform if you’ve suffered from an injury such as tennis elbow. All of the below suggested exercises will need to be performed with light resistance bands.
Banded Wrist Extension
How To Perform A Banded Wrist Extension Stretch:
- Start in seated position with knees bent to 90 degrees.
- Take hold of the end of a resistance bend in your working hand.
- Position the other end under your foot, ensure there is enough tension in the band.
- Lean forwards and rest the forearm of the working arm along your upper leg with palm facing down.
- Now start to extend the wrist up and towards you.
- Hold for a second or two, before lowering back down.
- Repeat this movement around 10 times before switching hands.
Banded Wrist Flexion
How To Perform A Banded Wrist Flexion Stretch:
- Set up in the same way as the banded wrist extension exercise.
- Rest the forearm of your working arm on top of your leg but this time your palm should be facing up.
- Flex the wrist up and towards you.
- Pause at the top of the movement before lowering back down.
- Repeat the exercise for around 10 repetitions before swapping hands.
Banded Forearm Rotation
How To Perform The Banded Forearm Rotation:
- Stand upright with feet around hip width apart.
- Place one end of the band under your foot and wrap the other end around the hand to be worked.
- Make sure the resistance of the band is on the inside of your foot.
- Position your arm at a 90-degree angle with your elbow tucked into your side. Your palm should be facing inwards.
- Slowly start to rotate your wrist upwards. Stop once your palm is facing the ceiling.
- Perform this exercise for 15 to 20 reps before switching sides.
Banded Ulnar Deviation
How To Perform The Banded Ulnar Deviation:
- Stand upright with feet hip width apart.
- Wrap your resistance band around both hands.
- Keep your elbows tucked in with hands out in front of you.
- Your palms should be facing the floor with elbows bent to 90 degrees.
- Slowly flex the wrists outwards increasing the resistance along the band.
- Be sure to keep your shoulders relaxed and just allow for wrist movement.
By performing a combination of the above simple exercises, over time, allow for a better range of motion and wrist mobility leading to overall better wrist health and less pain to the wrist joints.
Always seek the advice of your health care provider or physical therapist before undertaking any new exercise program.