As a dancer I spent years training my legs, glutes, core, and back for optimal strength in every movement. My arms were the icing on the cake, they floated above all the hard working holding positions and helping my body transfer from left to right.
When I stopped dancing and started cross training, working on body weight workouts and weighted routines I could clearly see how weak my arms were. Very quickly I started noticing pain in my right wrist and couldn’t perform any arm workouts or holds. I saw specialists that were convinced I must have torn or sprained my wrist, or worse had a cyst that was causing the pain. Multiple scans later, the diagnosis was weak arms and over-strained wrists with a prescribed physical therapy program I started pronto.
The viscous circle of weak wrists was not being able to strengthen my forearms without pain, and without strengthening them the pain wouldn’t subside. I worked for a year on my upper body slowly increasing weight or time spent on my hands. The pain is mostly gone now, and my upper body is stronger than it has ever been.
This experience has pushed me to learn a lot about correcting bad alignment, and preventing wrist injuries for myself and my clients.
If you’re in the same boat these 5 things will hopefully help to release tension, and get rid of or prevent pain.
Warm the wrists up
You warm your body up before a workout with squats, bends, stretches – but we don’t warm up our wrists before we put our bodyweight through them.
Three exercises you can do to warmup your wrists:
- Wrist circles clockwise and anti-clockwise
- Flex and extend (like good toes and naughty toes for your hands)
- Palm domes: Place your hands flat on the floor and draw your fingers back towards your wrists creating an arch in your palm.
Stretching it out
I found that stretching my forearms was really helpful for my wrist pain. Add these stretches to your nightly routine:
- Start on all fours and turn your fingers to face towards your knees, bring your bum to sit back onto your heels. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Bring one hand out straight in front of you, flex the palm and turn your hand so your fingers are facing towards the floor. Use your other hand to pull back your fingers towards your chest. Hold for 30 seconds.
Many injuries that weren’t caused by impact or accident can be traced back to some weakness in the body. With the help of a physiotherapist and personal trainer that can really look at your specific problem and help you – you do need to work on strength at some point. Waiting for the pain to go and then going straight back to full performance will almost always result in a relapse back to that injury.
Correcting bad alignment
When I teach planks or push ups in my classes I see some scary wrist alignment. Try and notice the set-up for each exercise and where you’re putting pressure. For your wrists you want to make sure your hands and shoulders are in alignment. If your shoulders are further over than your wrists you’re putting too much pressure on the joint. Notice it and re-set.
Don’t stop when the pain stops
There’s always a point where the pain subsides and so does your recovery routine. For an easily recurring injury it’s important to continue these steps.
I’ve created a short video to help you through these steps. It’s all about getting stability through the wrists, and with consistency you will see big improvements.
Watch the video here: 5 steps to stop and prevent wrist pain.