Fit Wrist Workout

A wrist workout could be the ticket if you suffer from weak or aching wrists. Many workers perform a variety of duties that involve the wrists. These repetitive motions can take their toll. Learn how to strengthen your wrists.

What do push-ups, grasping a coffee mug, and typing have in common? Each of these movements requires the use of strong, healthy wrists. We rarely give a thought to this important body part unless we experience pain or injury. Let’s focus on this neglected area and keep our wrists fit with this easy wrist workout.

Understanding our wrists

Our wrists are made up of an intricate number of moving bones surrounded by muscle, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. In order to move freely, each part is bathed in a fluid that lubricates our hinges and allows for optimal movement.

Yet with continuous, repetitive motions the fluid depletes, cartilage breaks down, and tendons, ligaments, and bones create friction that may lead to inflammation or injury.

Some repetitive activities also require isolated wrist movements that tighten overused muscles in our forearms while they lengthen and weaken others, creating stiff, painful wrists.

Our wrists at work

Think about the main activity we do at our desk. We type. A 2007 study found that 30 percent of office workers who use their computers for four hours or more a day complain of wrist injuries. It’s unsurprising considering that the average person types 50,000 to 200,000 keystrokes a day. The repetitive motion of our fingers, typing with vigour, and isolating our wrists in one frozen position, leads to repetitive strain injuries.

Wrist braces

  • Wrist braces reduce repetitive wrist flexion and extension that may create strain.
  • Braces may improve grip strength during light activities by stabilizing the wrist joint.

Wrist-strengthening supplements

Supplements Benefits
calcium and vitamin D calcium increases bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis; vitamin D facilitates calcium absorption—without it, the beneficial effects of calcium would be lost
collagen may protect cartilage and reduce risk of osteoarthritis
eggshell membrane reduces pain and stiffness in joints
glucosamine and chondroitin used to reduce joint pain often associated with osteoarthritis

Soothing stretches

Stretching elongates constricted muscles in the fingers and wrists and increases our wrist mobility. Take quick computer breaks to do these stretches. Breaks also allow our joints the time to replenish much needed synovial fluid.

Prayer Stretch

  • Press your palms together, fingers pointing up, elbows flared out.
  • Gently lower hands until you feel a stretch, keeping fingers connected throughout.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and release.

Wrist Flexor Stretch

  • Extend one arm directly in front of you, wrist in alignment with your shoulder, palm facing out, and fingers reaching up toward the sky.
  • Gently pull your fingers toward you with your other hand.
  • Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

Wrist Extensor Stretch

  • Extend one arm directly in front of you, wrist in alignment with your shoulder.
  • Create a fist.
  • Curl your wrist down, palm facing in, knuckles pointing toward the ground.
  • Gently push the back of your hand toward you.
  • Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

Why switching our exercise routine matters

Common workouts often include push-ups and dips. These exercises force our wrists into an exaggerated extension and compress the joint. Upper body exercise alternatives continue to benefit our health and simultaneously strengthen our wrists while preventing inflammation and injury.

Avoid wrist pain with these exercise alternatives

You’ll need light weights (5 to 10 lb).

Chest exercises (push-up alternatives)

The chest press is a great push-up alternative. During this exercise we focus on keeping our wrists straight, a task that may be hard if we have weaknesses in our forearm muscles. If wrists start to bend (palms begin to face upward) this is a sign that our wrist extensors (muscles located on our forearm knuckle side) are tight and our forearm flexors are weak or overstretched. By learning to keep the dumbbell straight, we balance the muscles that may be giving us wrist pain.

Chest Press

  • Hold a weight in each hand.
  • Lie on your back, feet flat on floor, legs bent.
  • With elbows flared to each side just below shoulder level and forearms and wrists straight above elbow, reach the weights toward the sky, creating a straight line from knuckles to shoulders.
  • Lower to starting position.
  • Repeat 12 to 15 times.

Triceps exercise (alternative to dips or triceps push-ups)

This arm exercise is just as effective at toning the back of our arms as body weight exercises that compress the wrists. It also includes a great lesson on wrist awareness. During motions that ask our forearm to flex and extend in isolation from the rest of our body, we automatically move our wrists as well. Focus on keeping the wrists frozen while moving the forearm and you’ll begin to create awareness of how to move your muscles independently and reduce unnecessary overuse.

Lying Down Triceps Extensions

  • Lie down, face up, feet flat on the floor, with a weight in each hand.
  • Lift the weights toward the sky, hands facing in and arms aligned with shoulders.
  • Keep upper arm and wrist straight as forearm bends, bringing the weights toward ears, thumbs pointing toward the ground. Then straighten arms out.
  • Repeat 12 to 15 times.

Tone the upper body while strengthening the wrists

Why not add an exercise to our workout that creates strong, healthy wrists? Upper body exercises that incorporate twisting motions strengthen the forearm muscles evenly, giving weak muscles the opportunity to catch up.

To save time, do this wrist-strengthening exercise while seated at your desk. Use water bottles if you can’t bring weights to work.

Twisted Bicep Curl

  • Stand, legs shoulder-width apart, a weight in each hand, palms facing out.
  • Bend elbows and lift weights toward shoulders.
  • Then rotate your wrists so weights face away from you and straighten your forearm.
  • When your arm is straight, twist your wrists back to starting position.
  • Repeat 12 to 15 times.

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