It may not look like much at first glance but your wrist is a complex joint with multiple bones and ligaments. The proper functioning of these parts is integral in various movements of the hand which in turn, allows you to go about your daily activities.
Wrist problems usually occur from overuse, injuries, and old age. The natural process of aging leads to wear and tear of cartilages, bones, and other musculoskeletal structures. Thus, those who are 65 years and older already experience issues like changes in hand function or grip strength. For women, the incidence of wrist fractures rapidly increases after going through menopause.
Then again, wrist injuries are still prevalent even among the healthy adult population. And because it’s often inevitable, the best way to combat the pain and discomfort associated with arm and hand injuries is to strengthen the wrist by exercising.
Common Wrist Problems
Carpal tunnel syndrome
This hand condition characterized by tingling, weakness, and numbness is caused by the compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. It’s generally more common in women and increases in prevalence with age.
Read more: Exercises for Treating Carpal Tunnel
While this is often work-related, it can affect people of all ages and occupations, with people who work on computers for hours on a daily basis at a higher risk.
De Quervain’s disease
This is an inflammation of the tendons running from the base of the thumb to the wrist. Some of the signs and symptoms include swelling, tenderness, snapping sensation, and pain when lifting the thumb. The symptoms usually get worse when doing repetitive hand movements.
Arthritis comes with inflammation, pain, and stiffness, making it difficult to perform even the simplest tasks like cooking or lifting small objects (e.g. plates or cups from a cupboard). There’s no cure for this disease and with its progression, it might lead to joint damage. However, there are several non-surgical interventions to manage the pain and other symptoms.
Benefits of Having Strong Wrists
Prevent certain conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome especially if you engage in repetitive wrist movements like typing, sewing, or playing the piano.
Increase blood circulation in your wrists to ensure normal mobility.
Focus on improved grip strength and hand dexterity, which diminish as you age.
Boost your hand endurance (beneficial when you need to carry heavy items and you don’t want to loosen your grip).
Improve your strength training performance when doing exercises like bench presses or deadlifts.
Exercise Tips for Stronger Wrists
With your palm facing down, pull back the top of your fingers. Do the reverse with the back of your hand facing down, stretch your hand with the palm up. This is to improve the range of motion of your wrist.
Let your forearm rest on your leg with the palm facing up. Hold a lightweight material in your hand (a small paper will do) then slowly lower it towards the floor. It should not take more than five seconds to do this. Bring your hand back to the starting position. Repeat it 10-15 times per wrist for every session and aim to do around 2-3 sessions at least four times a week.
Fill a bucket with sand. Keep on squeezing the sand using both hands. Rest for thirty seconds and repeat.
While sitting, hold a weighted dumbbell with your palm facing up. If you prefer exercising both hands at once, you can opt for a barbell instead. Curl the weight towards your wrist without bending your elbow. There should be no other movement except on your wrist. Lower the weight back to the starting position. Repeat for about 10 times.
Sit on a bench and rest the forearm on your thigh with your hand extending beyond the knee. Hold a dumbbell with your palm facing down. Let the weight hang then lift it until your hand is on the same level as your wrist and your whole arm. Lower it back then repeat. Do this for both wrists.
Press your palms together in front of your face with your forearms and elbows touching each other. Then, with your palms still pressed together, spread your elbows apart slowly as you lower your hands up to the level of your waist. When your hand reaches your belly, stop and stretch for 10 seconds before going back to your starting position.
Sit properly and with your palms facing upwards, press them under a table against the bottom of the furniture. Hold for around 10 seconds then rest and repeat.
Doing these wrist exercises can help you avoid painful and debilitating hand conditions, minimize the risk of injuries, and improve wrist flexibility and mobility.