Jay Dicharry, M.P.T, C.S.C.S., is a Men’s Fitness advisory board member, director of biomechanics at Rebound Physical Therapy, a USA Track and Field coach, and a USA Cycling coach. Dicharry explains why wrists act up during workouts and what to do about the pain.
MF: Why does my wrist hurt during workouts?
Jay Dicharry: The wrist is the intersection of your arm bones (ulna and radius) and your hand bones (your metacarpals) that are connected by two rows of quite small bones called carpals. This configuration allows your hand to move in many different ways, but joints that are highly mobile by nature are also highly unstable. Loading weight, mainly in positions where the wrist is extended, can cause pain for some people. It’s very common for wrists to become overloaded (especially in exercises like the front squat) when there are shoulder mobility issues.
If my wrist hurts during a workout, what should I do?
Change your grip position to avoid an acute bend at the wrist. Consult a doctor when you aren’t able to manage your symptoms through alterations in grip or body position, suspect an acute injury like a fracture, or have throbbing pain that lasts through the night.
Should I wear wrist wraps while I work out?
Wrist wraps can help in the short-term, but it's better to strengthen your wrists. The way to improve your wrists isn’t by doing more heavy lifts. Instead, work the small muscles around the wrist that provide support. Here's a great way to work all the stabilizers in the wrist in one simple exercise so you can feel more comfortable while bench pressing.
Wrist stabilization workout
Grab some silly putty and do the following in one hand at a time:
1. Roll the silly putty into a ball.
2. Next flatten the silly putty and extrude it out so it resembles a hot dog shape.
3. Take the putty and loop the ends together so that you've made a circle.
4. Place all your fingers inside the circle. With your hands inside the circle, widen your fingers so that you stretch the circle outward then move the silly putty back inside your hand.
5. Repeat this sequence for about 3-4 minutes.