Many sports and physical activities can put a lot of strain on your wrists. Whether that’s from loaded extension (push ups, plank, yoga), heavy lifting with the palm facing up (bicep curls, chin up) or vibration (mountain biking), achy wrists are quite common in recreational and professional athletes. We’ve gathered our best tips on how to manage your wrist pain during workouts.
Build a strong foundation
Proximal muscles refer to the muscles near or around your trunk: core, back, shoulders. Weakness of these muscles can lead to overloading of the hand and wrists during weightbearing activities. Strong proximal muscles will provide a stable base for your hands and wrists to perform at their best, free from pain. Make sure to include core stability (plank, side plank, cable anti-rotation, bridges) and mix it up with some extremity movement (dead bug, bird dog, renegade row) in your exercise routine. You can also add some forearm strengthening (wrist curls, wrist extension, farmer’s carry) to your programming to help support your hands and wrists.
Improve your mobility
Increased stress at the wrists can happen from stiff shoulders and limited thoracic spine mobility. If your back and shoulders don’t have the range of motion needed to complete a specific exercise (yoga flow, front squat, Olympic weightlifting), you will often (unbeknownst to you) compensate with exaggerated range of motion in your wrists. Over time, your wrist ligaments can get overstretched and result in strain and even tears. Mobility exercises for your proximal joints (thoracic spine, shoulders, elbows) and soft tissues (lats, forearm muscles) are an important part of warm ups. Chronic mobility limitations can also benefit from a physiotherapy assessment to determine and treat the source of the problem.
Perfect your technique
Poor technique can also lead to overloading of the wrists. If you’ve been noticing some discomfort at the wrists (or any other body part really), it may be time to take weight off the bar or scale back on the difficulty of your workouts and get back to basics. Letting go of proper technique can easily happen after a few years of performing in the same sport or activity. Our sports physiotherapists in Edmonton are experts in movement analysis and can help you to break down your current technique and work with you to rebuild your movement patterns with the aim of improving your performance by treating and preventing injuries.
Use equipment or modify your technique
Various small changes can easily make a big difference in your workouts:
Limit wrist extension during push ups by using push up bars/dumbbells or do push ups on your fists
Limit wrist extension during planking by doing forearm planks (do it on a Bosu Ball if you need a challenge!) or do regular planks on fists or push up bars
Change the orientation of your grip during pull ups/chin ups
Engage your fingers and press through wide fingertips when loading into your hands (push ups, yoga)
Use wrist straps and/or padded gloves to improve your grip strength and wrist stability
Use a softer yoga mat
Fold the end of your yoga mat to decrease the amount of wrist extension needed for weight bearing movements
If your pain has been lingering for a few weeks and is now a consistent part of your workout, you should stop ignoring and pushing through it. Our Certified Hand Therapists and Sports Physiotherapists in Edmonton have the best combination of skills to understand the source of your pain and determine the best course of action to take based on your injury and the demands of your sport and daily activities. Keep in mind that the faster you address your wrist pain, the quicker and better your recovery will be. The ultimate goal is to get back to what matters, without that nagging wrist pain.