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Bert Bauzon is a licensed physiotherapist specializing in spinal care and sports rehabilitation. He writes articles and books about exercise science and health care.

4 Ways to Prevent Wrist Injuries

Have you ever felt an odd pain on your wrist after working out? Or perhaps you’ve been enduring discomfort on your wrist when lifting weights?

It turns out it’s actually quite common. The wrist is one of the most commonly injured sites among bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts.

Although it is not as alarming as back pain or shoulder pain, you should still not disregard your wrist pain or discomfort.

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Whether you lift weight or use bodyweight exercises, your wrist is susceptible to compressive and tensile forces. As a result, poor strength and improper form will lead to a lot of stress on the wrist area, resulting in overuse injuries over time.

This article will discuss ways to prevent wrist injuries and pain during training.

Why does wrist pain happen?

Most of your training movements require your grip and lifting with your hands. During most exercises, the position of the wrist can become awkward or inefficient as you get tired. In addition, the wrist is prone to damage and repetitive stress due to its role in transmitting various forces between the hand and the body.

Many factors may be causing wrist pain. But one of the most common causes of wrist pain among athletes is the injury to the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC).

TFCC provides delicate support and connection to the ulnar side of your hand and forearm bones. In addition, it gives stability and rotational ability to the wrist thanks to its ligament and disc structures.

The TFCC is usually injured during a fall on an outstretched hand. However, tears may also occur when strong tensile forces are applied against the wrist, as with gripping and pulling. Pull-ups, barbell curls, and lateral raises are some exercises that exhibit these scenarios.

Minor soft tissue injuries are common in the gym and usually heal without a problem. Unfortunately, the inner part of TFCC has poor blood circulation resulting in delayed healing or chronic pain and injury.

How to avoid wrist injury?

You can avoid wrist injury in the gym by maintaining the strength and flexibility of muscles and tendons around the wrist. The following tips will help you prevent wrist pain and discomfort during training.

1. Warm-up

Your workout program should include sufficient warm-up exercises for your body, including your wrist. Warm-up allows your body to prepare for the physically demanding tasks you are going to do.

Warming up your cardiovascular system improves core body temperature and increases blood flow to your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues. In addition, studies have shown that 10 minutes of warm-up can decrease the risk of injuries.

Stretching and range of motion exercises also prepare the soft tissues in your wrist. By doing routine stretching of the wrist and forearm muscles you will be able to improve the flexibility and range of motion of your wrist joint.

Include the following exercises in your warm-up routine:

  • Wrist extensor and flexor stretch for 15 to 30 seconds hold x 3 sets
  • Wrist rotation exercises x 10 reps x 3 sets (repeat in opposite direction)
  • Low intensity cardio aerobic exercise

2. Strengthen your grip and forearm muscles

Grip and forearm muscle strength are often overlooked and undertrained in beginner lifters. Many people put little emphasis on the forearm and hand muscles since they have “little” contribution to the V taper physique everyone wants.

However, training these muscle groups will come a long way. A stronger grip allows better control and handling with the bar in weightlifting and calisthenics. In addition, it will enable you to push your reps further without losing proper form resulting in better development of your arms and the upper body.

Strong forearm muscles combined with a mighty grip prevent excessive pressure and tensile force on the wrist, especially during pull-ups and heavy barbell lifts.

Try these exercises for your forearm muscles and grip strength:

  • Dumbbell wrist flexion and extension exercise
  • Dumbbell wrist supination and pronation exercise
  • Farmers walk
  • Hanging exercise
  • Tennis ball squeeze or hand exerciser

Here’s a workout you should give a try:

3. Wrist taping or wrist wrap

You can provide additional support to your wrist during training by applying wraps or tapes around your wrist. This simple method helps prevent excessive flexion or extension of the wrist when lifting heavy weights, allowing you to maintain proper form and handle throughout the set.

If you are experiencing wrist pain or discomfort, it is recommended to use a wrap or tape the wrist during your workout to minimize further injury to the wrist.

4. Ensure proper lifting techniques

A lot of injuries happen because of inefficient techniques and improper lifting forms. The same is true with regards to wrist injuries and pain.

For many lifters, shoulder and chest workouts such as lateral raises, bench presses, and curls may cause wrist pain or discomfort. It takes time to develop stronger muscles to combat these instances, but you can make adjustments to your techniques.

More importantly, prioritize the quality of your movements rather than completing a certain amount of reps. Ensure that you are not compromising your form and avoid compensatory movements. If you are experiencing wrist pain or discomfort, dial down the intensity and weight of your exercises.

Take note of the following key points when doing these exercises:

  • When performing lateral raises, ensure that the elbow is slightly bent throughout the movement and keep the wrist in a neutral position.
  • When performing the bench press, place the barbel slightly diagonal to your palm and thumb to stack your wrist perfectly with your forearm and elbow. This will avoid excessive wrist extension when benching heavy weights.
  • When performing the bench press, do not flare out the elbows and keep them stacked under your wrist.
  • Use the EZ curl bar to reduce the stress on your elbows and wrist.

Bonus Tip:

Injuries in the gym can be caused by wear and tear or accumulation of microtraumas over time. Working out can be fun and even addicting, but it is essential to be mindful of the signals our body is telling us.

Mild pain and discomfort often come and go but should not be disregarded. Remember that proper rest and recovery are also part of the process.

Conclusion

Having sufficient forearm strength and stronger grip strength can significantly reduce the risk of wrist injuries and pain. Furthermore, it is highly beneficial to train your forearm muscle and improve your grip to execute your exercises better and perform more reps.

Wrist straps and athletic tapes can also support the wrist joint when performing heavy lifts.

More importantly, prioritize your lifting techniques and the quality of your movements before progressing to heavier weights. Often, your form gets compromised when your muscles are not strong enough to lift a certain weight, resulting in compensatory movements of the wrist and other joints.

This article is not a substitute for the advice of a medical professional. Every injury is different for each person. Consult your doctor if you have an unresolved injury.

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