Keeping wrists mobile and healthyNovember 27, 2017
We use our hands more than we would like to admit in CrossFit. We focus on working on shoulder, hip, and ankle mobility and we often omit to take care of our wrists. They are in use as soon as we rack the barbell, grip the kettle bell, grab the pull-up bar or get into a wall walk.
Wrists are in alignment with the shoulders, arms, forearms and hands. All these body parts are inter-connected. When we think of taking care of our wrists, we want to include the entire arm in the process.
When to work on wrists
There are two instances when we should take care of our wrists: before training and in between workouts.
In any given workout, and not just when handstands are programmed, wrists are under a lot of pressure and therefore put at risk. Prepping the wrists prior to a workout is therefore absolutely paramount! (See mobility exercises below)
Why would we need to work on wrists in between workouts then? To strengthen them and doing so right before flexing and extending during a workout is not a good idea.
It is time consuming but so worth it in the end. It is an efficient way to stay clear from sprains and injuries, hence building ourselves solid and flexible wrists. (See exercises below).
Mobility and strengthening exercises
Mobility prior to a workout:
Hold the hands together, elbows and forearms in constant contact and move the wrists around, starting slow at first and then more rapidly. Change directions.
–3 steps motion wrist stretch:
- Kneel down on both knees, press the entire surface of the palms on the floor. For those of us who have hypermobile elbows, make sure to contract the biceps as well.
Move gently in circular motion. We should feel a stretch in the back of the forearm as well.
- From there, place the back of the hand on the floor and do the same circular movement. Don’t overdo it, if it starts to hurt, back down until no pain is felt and start over. This is not a workout and the objective is not to force the movements.
- The third motion is done with the back of the wrist outwards, fingertips inwards pointing towards the knees.
While doing all these drills, keep in mind to press the fingers on the floor as well. After all, they are also part of the arm/wrist combo and should also be prepped!
Strength in between workouts:
Move the wrist in every direction slowly. If a position feels painful or tight, move away from it and hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat 2 or 3 times a day.
Kneel down on both knees, bring one arm at knee level into the floor, palm down, wrist facing outwards. This should uncomfortable but that is the whole point of it.
Now try to lift the fingertips up by pressing the back of the wrist on the floor. Do the other arm separately.
Attach a band at the bottom of the rig. Kneel down on both knees, place the hand through the band, palm down, fingertips facing outwards. Create tension. While keeping the back of the wrist on the floor, delicately move the forearm towards the fingertips but be attentive to the back of the wrist. The entire surface of the palm have to remain pressed down on the floor the whole time. Hold the position for 30 seconds, repeat 4 times. Then move to the other arm.
These two last exercises should ideally be done twice a week in between training time.
Wrap wrist or no wrap wrist?
This is a yes but answer (expect for injuries or medical prescriptions).
Wrists wraps should be worn if there is discomfort of pain during lifts or gymnastics movements as we are trying to work on larger muscle groups. If the wrists are in the way, they should be supported at one condition: that we keep on strengthening and mobilizing them in between trainings.
Photo credits: CrossFit, Rogue, Sonima, Physiocapsule