When we discuss exercising and the different joints of the body, there’s no denying that a lot of attention goes to the bigger joints - the hips, the shoulders, the knees, the ankles. And this is for good reason! These are very important joints that allow us to move in a variety of ways and perform a number of different movements and exercises - from squatting, to pressing, pulling, running, jumping, and much more.
But how often do we also pay attention to the wrists?
As important as it is to take care of these bigger and more “popular” joints, let’s not forget about the humble wrist! The wrist is incredibly vital for any movements that we do with our hands. The wrist is a synovial joint that allows for flexion, extension, adduction, and abduction. If we don’t take proper care of our wrists with stretches and exercises, it can lead to more opportunities for injury.
As with any body part, stretching has many different benefits for the targeted area and even the surrounding areas as well. First of all, consistent stretching increases blood flow to the region. Not only will the blood flow increase to the wrists, but also to the forearms, hand muscles, and fingers. Increased blood flow to the wrist, forearms, and hand will help properly warm up the area and prime your body for a workout.
Stretching the wrist will also help increase its range of motion. If you’ve ever felt like your wrist was cranky or tight, stretching it routinely will sure help increase its range of motion. This will allow for a decreased amount of pain and an overall better quality of life.
Utilizing this wrist complex stretch after a workout - especially a workout that might have affected the wrist and forearm - will help decrease soreness and just make you feel better overall.
The wrist complex stretch is really not that “complex” at all! But that being said, it is definitely effective and important. The great news is that it can be done with only your body weight and it is incredibly modifiable which allows for the most effective stimulus for your body.
To begin this stretch, start on your hands and knees. This is commonly referred to as the Tabletop position in yoga. You want to ensure that your knees are placed under your hip points and your hands underneath your shoulders. Be sure to keep a neutral spine - avoiding any unnecessary rounding or arching.
Once you’re in the starting position, start by flipping your right hand over - so the top of your hand is now resting on the ground. Your left hand should stay in the same starting position for now. Once your hand is flipped onto its top, you should feel a nice, big stretch in your wrist and perhaps your forearm as well, depending on your level of soreness or tightness.
If you feel comfortable doing so, you can also flip your left hand onto the top to match your right. But, be sure not to dump all of your body weight into both of your wrists - especially at first. Keep your feet planted on the ground and keep some body weight planted in your knees as well. This is to ensure that you don’t place too much unnecessary weight on your wrists and cause an injury or strain.
If you would rather alternate hands to stretch the wrist one at a time, you can certainly do that as well. Hold this position for a set amount of time depending on how much stretching your wrist and forearms need.
Depending on the state of your wrists, this movement might feel quite intense. But, because the wrist complex stretch utilizes your own body weight, you can essentially determine how much pressure you need to get an effective stimulus.
If the movement is a bit too intense, just try to decrease the amount of bodyweight that’s resting on your wrists. Again, try to keep the majority of your weight in your knees and feet instead of in the wrists and hands. Take it slow when you first attempt this stretch. It’s better to be safe than try to jump right into the stretch at first!
Stretch your arms out in front of you with your palms facing outwards. With one hand, grab the fingers of the opposite hand and pull towards your shoulder.