We demand a lot of our wrists. These small, gliding joints support the myriad muscles and bones in our hands, as well as the full kinetic chain of our forearms, elbows, and shoulders. They help us grasp forks and steering wheels; heft grocery bags, barbells, and tennis racquets; and even hold the weight of our bodies as the base for pushups and planks.
Perhaps most taxing on our wrists are our laptops, smartphones, and other techy confections, which have ensured that, more often than not, our hands, wrists, and fingers are busily typing or texting.
“There’s no doubt that the wrists and hands are taking the brunt of the orthopedic hit with the rise of handheld technologies,” says physical therapist and trainer John Rusin, PT, DPT, CSCS.
It’s not just your wrists that suffer when they don’t move properly: Your hands, shoulders, neck, and upper back can all get thrown out of whack as well, leaving you stiff and sore.
Rusin recommends these mobility exercises to improve circulation to the joints and muscles in the lower arms. Try these moves daily.
Massage the outside and inside of your forearm, working from your elbow down. When you find a tender spot, breathe deeply and apply gentle pressure.
Forearm Flexor Stretch
Interlace your fingers and turn your palms away from you. Extend your arms for a two-count, then bend your elbows to relax. Then extend and relax your arms for 30 to 45 seconds.
Stand with your palms flat on a table, shoulders over wrists. Straighten your arms as much as you can, keeping shoulders over wrists, and palms flat. Hold for 15 to 25 seconds.
Stand with the backs of your hands on a table. With arms straight, apply gentle pressure to your hands. Hold for 15 to 25 seconds. Place a towel under your hands for more support.
- Interlace your fingers and raise your elbows to chin height, forearms parallel to the floor.
- Keeping your palms down, your fingers interlaced, and your elbows and hands at chin height, slide your palms forward and back as if along a high table top, feeling a mild stretch in the sides of your wrists.
- Repeat for 12 to 15 repetitions.
Shake and Twist
- Place your right hand in front of you, fingers together, thumb extended, palm facing you.
- With your left hand, grab your right palm with an overhand grip and squeeze your hands together.
- Simultaneously rotate your right hand toward you and your left hand away from you, creating isometric (nonmoving) tension between the two hands.
- Hold for five seconds, then switch your hands and repeat, completing a total of three five-second sets in each position.