In recent times, there has been a rise in popularity of body weight training. While the traditional practice of yoga and pilates remains strong amongst exercisers, there are also more people participating in gymnastics-influenced exercises. While such exercises and movements are hugely beneficial to health and fitness, they can place extraordinary demands on joints, tendons and muscles that are not normally used to this type of training.

Because body weight training often requires support of one’s body weight – for example, on the floor, or in hanging positions – building a foundation of strength, endurance and mobility in the hands and wrists is essential for injury-free movement and continued success. It’s important to understand that while functional joint strength provides the foundation for injury- and pain-free hands and wrists, skillful practice also plays a key role.

Whether you’re a body weight training advocate, or simply wish to build stronger hands and wrists for everyday lifting and carrying, here are our top 5 exercises. These exercises can be performed as part of a warm-up at the gym, or as a standalone corrective exercise program.

EXERCISES FOR PAIN-FREE HANDS AND WRISTS

1. Wrist extension

  • In a kneeling position, place hands palms up on the knees.
  • Lean forwards and gently roll the fingers until the palm is on the floor.
  • Spread the fingers and find a comfortable stretch.
  • Gently pulse forwards and backwards 20 times.
  • Then hold the stretch for 30sec.
  • Repeat.

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2. Wrist flexion

  • In a kneeling position, place hands palms down on the knees.
  • Lean forwards and gently roll the fingers until the back of the palm is on the floor.
  • Spread the fingers and find a comfortable stretch.
  • Gently turn the elbow crease inwards and outwards 20 times.
  • Then turn the elbow crease out and hold the stretch for 30sec.
  • Repeat.

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3. Fingertip bounce

  • In a kneeling position, lean forwards and rest the fingertips lightly on the floor.
  • Gently bounce the fingertips up and down on the floor, as you rock your body forwards and backwards to control the weight.
  • Perform 20 bounces, rest and repeat.

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4. Forearm press

  • Assume an all-fours position with the fingers facing forward.
  • Spread the fingers and gently turn the elbow crease out so it’s forward facing.
  • From this position, push the base of the fingers into the floor and raise the palm off floor.
  • Lower the palm under control and repeat 15 times.

Aim for fatigue at the last rep; as you become stronger, you can lean further forwards onto the hands. As a progression, perform the exercise with the fingers facing backwards.

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5. Forward rocks

This final exercise combines the flexibility, strength and endurance gained from the above exercises into a functional movement and will help you further build pain-free hands and wrists.

  • From an all-fours position.
  • Spread the fingers, turn out the elbow creases, and push the fingertips and palms into the floor.
  • As you maintain this position, slowly rock forwards and hold for 2sec.
  • Return and repeat 12 times to fatigue.

As you become stronger, you can progressively take the shoulders further forwards over the wrists/hands.

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