Wrist problems? No jokes, please – they’re a painful business. Avoid any issues with our expert’s advice
Avoid these wrist injuries
Wes Tubb is an osteopath and personal trainer with over 12 years’ experience helping treat a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries from his practice in west London (wesjames.co.uk).
The wrist and hand complex is made up of 28 bones and 14 joints, allowing it to be flexible enough to perform many intricate movements, but also making it vulnerable to injury,’ says Tubb. ‘Most of the muscles that control the wrist and hand originate in the forearm, with long tendons attaching to the bones in the hand.’
1 WRIST SPRAIN
‘The ligaments supporting your wrist can easily be sprained in sports involving direct force going through the joint, such as when handing off in rugby or doing a handspring in gymnastics.’
‘Strengthening the forearm muscles that control the wrist will help. Target them directly with wrist extensions – holding light dumbbells, rest your forearms on a bench and curl your wrists up and down. You can also target them indirectly by using Fat Gripz when doing pulling exercises like chin-ups and deadlifts.’
2 CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
‘Flexor tendons and nerves have to pass through a small space called the carpal tunnel. Inflammation of these tendons caused by repetitive strain, such as too much computer work or even from too much wrist flexion when doing biceps curls, can lead to compression of the median nerve. This leads to pain, numbness or pins and needles in your wrist and hand.’
‘In the gym, use a hammer grip when doing biceps curls to keep your wrist straight. At work, take regular breaks from your desk and stretch your forearms (by bending your palms back for ten seconds) and your pec muscles too (by stretching your chest using a door frame). Tightness in your pecs caused by poor posture can compromise vascular drainage of your arm and encourage inflammation.’
3 FINGER STRAIN
‘Straining the fingers’ tendons is common in contact sports such as MMA, rugby and climbing. This can cause problems in the nearest phalangeal joint, characterised by swelling and bruising in the knuckle and base of the finger.’ PREVENT IT ‘Strengthen your fingers with finger pull-ups. Instead of a full grip on the pull-up bar, hook your fingers over it. This is demanding, so start with a low volume and increase the reps over time.’
‘Developing calluses is an inevitable part of weight training. Constant pressure on your palms at the base of your fingers causes the skin to thicken to protect the joints underneath. These may become blistered and rip open, taking time to heal and preventing you from training.’
‘Prevent the skin being trapped under the bar by using a hook grip when doing deadlifts, bent-over rows and other heavy pulling lifts. Grip the bar with your palm and thumb first, then tightly grasp the bar and your thumb with your fingers.’
Max Whitlock relies on robust wrists to perform.
You should too