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, as well.
Wrist Stretching Routines
First, prior to any physical activity, do some light cardio to warm and slightly stretch the muscles. Light cardio that works great is jumping up and down in place for several minutes, or jogging in place. During this 1 minute cardio warm-up, and stretching your wrists in nearly every direction the entire time.
All controlled movements – nothing jerky, but feeling the stretch in your fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, and elbows. You want to engage every muscle, tendon, and ligament from the elbow down.
Next, perform the following wrist stretches. Perform these prior to my workout, during your workout, and after your workout.
Wrist Circles Stretch
- Bend your elbows at 90 degrees with your forearms parallel to the floor.
- Roll your wrists in a clockwise direction for 30 seconds.
- Reverse the direction and roll your wrists counter clockwise for 30 seconds.
Prayer Wrist Stretch
- Stand with the palms of your hands pressed against each other as if you are praying, with your fingers pointing up as shown.
- Slowly increase the pressure pushing pressure on your palms to increase the stretch in your wrists.
Reverse Prayer Wrist Stretch
- Stand with the backs of your hands pressed against each other, with your fingers pointing down as shown.
- Slowly increase the pressure pushing the back of your hands together to increase the stretch in your wrists.
Wrist Extensor Stretch
- Position yourself on the floor “on all four’s.”
- Place your wrist on the floor as shown
- Start with very light pressure, and increase pressure using your body weight.
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.
- Position your arms and hands in front of you as if you were steering a motorcycle.
- Roll both wrists in the up and down positions at the same time as if you were turning motorcycle handles.
- 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.
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. (1) (2)
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. (3)
Some activities have a particularly high rate of wrist injury: (4)
- 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. There is potential for numerous wrist injuries during resistance training, and all are generally avoidable with proper warm-up.
And the worst injuries are oftentimes not severe, but rather the slight nagging pain that stays with you for several weeks, or even several months. The kind of mild strain that restricts your ability to perform your normal workout routine, and it can linger for months.
Another injury that is avoidable with proper wrist stretching is tennis elbow. This injury can easily during resistance training, not playing tennis. It is often a nagging pain that just keeps you off your game. And not just your tennis game. (5)
It was one of the most debilitating injuries you can sustain, and it is not a traumatic injury. Despite this, it can impact your life for months.
A key way to avoid this is proper warm-up before exercise, and there are a number of stretches outlined below. You’ll be thankful for this advice, as your wrists, forearms, and elbows should remain injury-free following these stretches. (6)
Really important to perform these stretches as preventative…don’t wait for an injury!
Stretch your wrists and forearms prior to every workout routine. Time spent doing this will pay off – there is a better than average change that you won’t sustain a wrist injury when your 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.”
Avoiding Wrist Injury
Consistent wrist stretches will help your wrists to stay supple and fluid. As you age (40+), 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.
Here are some safe and effective neck stretching routines you can try as well to protect another vulnerable area against injury.
Return to stretching routines.
- Tang, A. (2021, December 4). Anatomy, shoulder and upper limb, hand carpal bones. StatPearls [Internet].https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535382/#:~:text=The%20carpal%20bones%20are%20bones,row%20and%20a%20distal%20row.
- Wrist sprains – orthoinfo – aaos. OrthoInfo. (n.d.).
- Common hand & wrist injuries. The Institute for Athletic Medicine. (2020, June 26). https://instituteforathleticmedicine.com/specialties/hand-and-wrist/common-hand-and-wrist-injuries/#:~:text=What%20Are%20the%20Most%20Common,)%20and%20overuse%20(chronic).
- Junqueira, G. D. R., Lima, A. L. M., Boni, R., Almeida, J. C. D. E., Ribeiro, R. S., & Figueiredo, L. A. D. E. (2017). Incidence of acute trauma on hand and wrist: A retrospective study. Acta ortopedica brasileira. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5782866/
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, February 25). Tennis elbow. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tennis-elbow/symptoms-causes/syc-20351987#:~:text=Tennis%20elbow%20(lateral%20epicondylitis)%20is,people%20who%20develop%20tennis%20elbow.
- WebMD. (n.d.). 10 Tips & 3 stretching exercises to prevent tennis elbow. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/prevent-tennis-elbow#1