Exercises to Strengthen Your Wrists
Stretching and exercising the muscles around your wrists will keep them flexible and strong, and help you avoid repetitive motion and stress injuries. If you’ve had an injury, these exercises can help you recover your wrist range of motion.
Your wrist bones connect your hand to your forearm. Wrist movements are controlled by the forearm muscles. To strengthen your wrists, you’ll work a group of 18 muscles in your forearms, each of which has specific functions.
Simple stretches can be done anywhere with no additional equipment. These exercises are a great way to warm up for stretching or for a relaxing break if you’re doing repetitive motions with your hands, wrists, fingers, or arms.
Range of motion:
Sit comfortably and bend your arm at the elbow, resting your upper arm on your leg or a table, or hold it with your other hand.
Make a fist, and then flex your hand at the wrist up as far as you can and then down as far as you can comfortably. Keep the motion smooth and continuous, moving your wrist 10 times back and forth. Move just the wrist, not your arm.
With your hand in the same position, move the wrist to the left as far as you can and then to the right as far as you can comfortably. Again, move the wrist, not your arm. Keep the motion smooth and continuous, repeating it 10 times. Repeat with your other hand.
Sit comfortably and bend your arm at the elbow in a right angle.
Make a fist, and then slowly open it spreading and stretching your fingers apart. Repeat a few times. Repeat with your other hand.
Stand with your elbows bent and palms together, fingertips pointing up at a level that’s just below your chin.
Lower your hands toward your waist, keeping your hands pressed together and close to your stomach. When you feel a moderate stretch in the underside of your forearms, hold the pose for 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times.
You’ll feel this stretch more if you can keep your fingers together. Your fingers will likely begin to bend as you move your hands lower.
Prayer stretch with steeple:
Stand with your elbows bent and palms together in the same hands-together position as the prayer stretch.
Spread your fingers and thumbs as wide apart as you can. Then move your palms apart and together again, keeping your fingers and thumbs touching. Repeat a few times during the day.
Ball squeeze strengthener:
You can do this exercise with any kind of ball about the size of a tennis ball. Or you can use exercise putty, which comes in soft, medium, and hard strengths. You can also use a rolled-up towel or pool noodle for squeezing.
Sit comfortably and take the ball or putty in your hand, wrapping your fingers and thumb around it. Squeeze as hard as you can. Hold the squeeze for 3 to 5 seconds.
Relax your grip slowly. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Rubber band strengthener:
This exercise is simple, but it works the smaller hand muscles. It’s also one you can do sitting at a desk or anywhere else.
Take an ordinary rubber band and stretch it around the tops of your fingers and thumb.
Slowly open your hand to stretch against the rubber band, and then slowly close your hand. Keep the motion controlled. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
This can be done with a clenched fist using a small food can or water bottle as a weight. You can do both arms at the same time or one arm at a time. It depends on your physical strength.
Sit comfortably with your arm resting over your knees. Hold a weight with your palms facing down and your wrist hanging over the knee.
Move your hand up as far as possible and then down as far as possible in a slow and controlled motion. Do a set of 10, then repeat. Repeat the exercise, but with your palms facing up.
Once you can do 2 or 3 sets easily, you may want to increase the weight you are using. You can also do wrist curls with your arm in the air.
Stand near a wall, with your arms straight, your palms against the wall, and your fingers pointed up. Keeping your palms against the wall, walk your wrists down the wall as far as you can.
Then turn your hands around so that your fingers are pointed down. With your palms against the wall, walk your wrists back up as far as you can.
Tips for healthy wrists:
Typing at a computer keyboard or a smaller device can stress your wrists and arms. If you feel tension in your arms, wrists, or hands, examine your workspace to see if you can make it more comfortable. Consider a keyboard wrist rest to keep your wrist in a neutral position. Make sure your chair, desk, and computer are optimally arranged to maintain good posture and reduce arm and hand tension.
Take regular breaks to stretch. Try lightly massaging your forearms, wrists, and fingers to release tension.
Strong and flexible wrists are important for everyday activities. Whether you’re driving a car, swinging a golf club or a racquet, lifting weights, typing, cooking, or doing anything else with your hands, your wrists are involved. As with any exercise routine, warm up before you begin.
If you’re just starting out with an exercise routine, try light stretches, exercises without weights, and exercises with light exercise bands. If you’re training for weightlifting or any other sport, use weights and bands appropriate for your strength.
Make an appointment if you have sustained wrist pain that does not abate with exercise. Depending on the cause, you may require treatment or physical therapy.