Exercises to strengthen the wrists are a must if you:
- Feel pain when doing push ups or planks.
- Your wrists feel sore or tight when typing or driving.
- When cooking you may notice a heavy pot fatigues the wrists or creates discomfort for the pinky finger.
These are all big signs that your wrists need some exercise love and attention.
I’m Alicia Jones from Alicia Jones Healthy Living and for over 16 years I’ve helped transform the health and lives of women over 50 through fitness and weight loss strategies, and in this quick workout video you’ll strengthen and stretch your wrists to alleviate wrist pain.
For Your Exercises to Strengthen the Wrists
- A broom without the broom brush part
- Light weights (or if your wrists are feeling really sore, don’t use any weight at all)
- A towel
- Your lap,thighs or a surface from which your wrists can gently hang (such as a small table edge)
Are you ready, let’s get started
Exercises To Strengthen the Wrists:
Wrist circles in a fist (Clockwise and Counterclockwise)
I’m going to demonstrate the first exercise sitting down using my lap. This way you understand how you can modify the workout if you’re sitting (See workout video here)
- Place your forearms on your thighs, your hands to gently falling over your knees
- Then, create two fists with your hands.
- For clockwise circles, leading with your knuckles as it they were the needle on a clock, lift your knuckles all the way up to an imaginary 12:00pm.
- Then circle over to 3:00pm, slowly down to 6:00pm, 9:00pm and back up to 12:00pm
This is a great warm-up exercise for the wrist.
These wrist circles ensure you’re getting the blood flowing. Just like any other part of the body, you do not want to be doing an exercise with a cold joint or cold muscles. This creates more possibility for injury.
You’ll notice (if you’ve got really tight wrists) that after only a few clockwise circles, you may be feeling this already.
For me, I get tight in the back of my hand so as my fist is going down to the six o’clock, that’s where I feel the stretch.
As you continue to do your circles, take note of where you’re feeling the pain. It’s really going to help to solidify what muscles need stretching and what muscles need strengthening.
Repeat the wrist circles in a counterclockwise direction.
Whether you’re going clockwise or counterclockwise, make sure your forearm stays connected to your thighs at all times.
Once you’ve finished wrist circles in both directions, shake the wrists out.
Shaking the wrists out also helps promote blood flow to the area, so you’re properly warmed up.
Bicep curls With Under grip
Take a weight you’d like to use for bicep curls.
To do bicep curls using an underhand grip, begin by grabbing the weight size you plan to use.
The big difference between a standard bicep curl and an underhand grip is thumb placement.
Place your thumb on the inside of the weight so it’s no longer grasping the weight. The thumb is beside the index finger instead.
This is going to help us create proper wrist form while simultaneously strengthening the inside of the wrist.
- Start with the underhand grip, weight right by your thigh as you stand or sit
- Exhale bend your arm up and pay special attention that your wrist is straight.
When you’re doing this exercise, the wrist will want to bend and you may not even notice this is happening.
Look down at your wrist to make sure e the wrist is not bending.
Make sure that the repetitions stay low. You don’t want to do too much too soon and over fatigue the wrists. Especially because you use your wrists it all day.
Once you’ve completed your repetitions. Twist your grip so your palm is facing toward your back when your arms are straight.
Make sure your elbow stays connected to your side.
Bend your arm up (you’re doing underhand bicep curls again, just with palms facing a different direction)
Make sure you’ve got a straight wrist.
This direction tends to feel more difficult for many, because these extensors(the muscles in the back of the hand) tend to be weak, but tight.
As a result, when you’re doing the wrist strengthening exercises for this area, you might feel the weight you’re lifting heavier.
If this exercise feels difficult with weight, place the weight down, or use a lighter weight size. until you’re really used to having perfect proper alignment and your muscles become stronger.
Wrist flexion (no weight or light weight)
- Sitting, lay your forearms on your lap, hands hanging over
- If you are using weight you’re going to hold the weight with an underhand grip (see bicep curl exercise for description).
- Your wrist is supported by your knee or the bench, and the palm faces up towards the sky.
- Then, bend your knuckle towards the forearm, and relax again.
You’ll notice that this is strengthening the inside part of the forearm.
If you don’t feel this and you’re using a weight, congratulations! It probably means that these muscles are really strong.
When we switch direction (palm down) you will probably feel this more.
- Just like you did with wrist extensions, you’ll rest your wrist on the edge of your lap, or a bench.
- Allow your hand to gently fall. This time, palm faces down.
- Once again, you’re holding the weight with an underhand grip (thumb on finger side)
- From here, allow your knuckle to rise up as if you are knocking on a door .
- Then come all the way back down curling your wrist towards your knee or bench.
- Continue this motion. Bring those knuckles up like you’re knocking on a door , then come back down.
It’s always so important to ask yourself, “Where am I feeling these wrist strengthening exercises?”
I’m feeling this particular exercise a lot in the same places of the wrist that I did when doing the wrist circles.
This shows me where I’m feeling tight and where I’m feeling weak. I may even choose to do another set of this exercise only on the weaker side.
Once you’ve done both the wrist extensions and the wrist flexion exercises on both arms, go on to the Broomstick
Broomstick : Ulnar Deviation
Out of all of the exercises to strengthen the wrists, this is my absolute favourite. I love using a broom handle for this exercise. It’s going to give you some tactile understanding of when you’re in proper alignment.
Make sure you can screw off the the brush part of the broom. You don’t want the weight to be unevenly displaced.
Stand, hold one end of the broom, the other end touches the ground behind you.
Your arm is at your side, fingers facing in toward your hip.
Allow your wrist to lift that broom handle up and then gently bring it back down to the ground.
You can feel the tap of the broom, as well as hear the clicking sound of the broom touching the ground. This is how you know you’re moving your wrist properly.
The wrist moves the broom handle in a windshield wiper fashion.
Keep the motion really smooth all the way up and all the way down until you hear that tap.
Wrist Roller With Broom Handle and Towel
Take your cloth, a towel or a tea towel
Wrap the towel around your broom once, leaving the rest of the towel to hand down.
Keep your elbows close to your body, both hands gripping the towel around the horizontal handle
Then slowly twist your wrists as though you’re wringing out a wet towel.
The towel wraps around the broom bringing it all the way up, then slowly all the way back down.
This works the muscles in both flexion and extension of the wrists. It’s a great workout!
Many focus solely on exercises to strengthen the wrists, and forget about stretching, but it is so important to do both.
You’ve got to elongate tight muscles in order to create more mobility and flexibility in the joint and alleviate the pressure and pain on the joint.
These stretches feel wonderfully soothing on sore wrists, so I know you’ll really enjoy doing them.
Wrist Flexion: A.K.A “The Punch” flexion:
Now that we’ve done all the strengthening exercises let’s stretch things out a bit.
- Start punching your arm straight out. You’re creating a fist. Fingers tightly clenched.
- Then bring your knuckles towards the ground as if you’re knocking on a door.
- Very gently, press the fist down with your free hand.
- You’re going to feel that nice stretch on the top of the wrist and forearm.
You can also gently pull the wrist in different directions to shift where you feel the stretch most.
Bring the knuckle in towards the chest , or out away from they body. Then, use the free hand to gently press the fist down.
I love this because you can just shift the direction of your fist and get into different parts of the tight wrist.
Whatever direction you feel the stretch in, hold it there and breathe into it.
Deep inhale and deep exhale.
Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, less if you’re feeling really tight.
Then, shake it out
Shaking the wrists increases blood flow to the area so it’s going to help nourish the area and keep it warm and flexible.
Extension Finger Tips Straight: A.K.A “The Hello” or “HALT” Sign
To begin, wave hello with your fingers splayed out straight.
Make sure your arm is straight out in front of you.
Hold the hand out, and gently pull all the fingers back with your free hand.
If you’re really tight, you might feel some compression on the pinky finger side of the hand.
If this is the case, after you’ve finished this extension stretch, shake it out, create that fist and stretch in the opposite direction (flexion) to alleviate the joint on the other side. (See video for full demonstration)
Of course, with each exercise and stretch, once you’ve completed one side, you’ll do all of the movements on your other side as well.
While you do the exact same stretch on each side, it may feels completely different.
I hope you enjoyed these exercises to strengthen the wrists.
When you consistently do these exercises, you’ll soon be able to do push-ups, planks, grip the steering wheel tightly, and even type without any pain.
In the meantime, until your wrists are strong, you may need to modify push-ups and planks that are taxing on the wrists. Watch this video here for 3 simple modifications you can do to create pain-free push ups and planks.