Master Class

Matt Par­rott wants you to wrap your mind around your wrists.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - MATT PAR­ROTT

Fore­arm and wrist flex­i­bil­ity is not nec­es­sar­ily a high-pri­or­ity com­po­nent of fit­ness for most ex­er­cise en­thu­si­asts. How­ever, many chronic el­bow and wrist in­juries be­gin with poor flex­i­bil­ity, in­ef­fi­cient move­ment pat­terns and repet­i­tive mo­tions. This week, I’ll present a few tips for min­i­miz­ing your risk for el­bow or wrist in­jury and will in­tro­duce an ex­er­cise that fits per­fectly within a pre­ven­tive rou­tine.

Overuse in­juries in the wrist and el­bow are com­mon, as peo­ple are pre­dis­posed to de­vel­op­ing th­ese con­di­tions based on a va­ri­ety of fac­tors. In­juries such as me­dial epi­condyli­tis (golfer’s el­bow), lat­eral epi­condyli­tis (ten­nis el­bow), and ten­donitis tend to arise from the same set of cir­cum­stances.

The first rea­son that th­ese in­juries are so com­mon is sim­ple — many of us have weak, tight mus­cles. Mus­cles that are not in good con­di­tion are sort of like a car en­gine with­out main­te­nance. They don’t per­form to their ca­pa­bil­i­ties. To com­pound the prob­lem, we of­ten ask our mus­cles to per­form repet­i­tive, stress­ful move­ments that ex­ceed their abil­ity to per­form with­out break­ing down. To use the car en­gine anal­ogy, it’s like driv­ing hun­dreds of miles every day with­out chang­ing the oil for months on end.

In­ef­fi­cient move­ment pat­terns also con­trib­ute to overuse in­juries. Poor desk er­gonomics, in­ef­fi­cient golf swings and im­proper strength train­ing tech­niques can all lead to the de­vel­op­ment of wrist or el­bow overuse in­juries. From a prac­ti­tioner’s per­spec­tive, th­ese root causes are much more dif­fi­cult to iden­tify. Of­ten, we sim­ply ask the pa­tient/client to “rest” with­out know­ing ex­actly what has caused the in­jury. Some­times, it’s some­thing as sim­ple as yard work.

To put one­self in the best po­si­tion to avoid an overuse in­jury in the wrist or el­bow, it’s im­por­tant to main­tain strong, flex­i­ble mus­cles and to per­form move­ment pat­terns that are ef­fi­cient. That’s easy for me to say, but it’s ab­so­lutely true. This is the one thing that any­one can do to help re­duce their risk pro­file, even if they aren’t to­tally sure whether a given move­ment pat­tern is prob­lem­atic. Rather than ask­ing clients to an­a­lyze their move­ment, it’s much more real­is­tic to help them in­te­grate stretch­ing and strength­en­ing ex­er­cises into their daily rou­tine.

This week’s ex­er­cise is a fan­tas­tic stretch­ing ac­tiv­ity that al­lows body weight to pro­vide the re­sis­tance for a nice fore­arm/wrist stretch that ad­dresses wrist flex­ors and ex­ten­sors.

1. Po­si­tion your­self on your hands and knees on an ex­er­cise mat. Your palms should be flat on the floor with the fin­ger­tips fac­ing for­ward.

2. From here, slowly lean for­ward with your shoul­ders while leav­ing your hands in the same po­si­tion.

3. Con­tinue lean­ing un­til you feel a stretch in your wrists and fore­arms. Once you feel the stretch, hold for 10 sec­onds and then re­turn to the start­ing po­si­tion.

4. Now, flip your wrists so that the backs of your hands touch the floor with the fin­ger­tips fac­ing you.

5. Again, lean for­ward un­til you feel a stretch in the wrists and fore­arms.

6. Hold for 10 sec­onds and then re­turn to the start­ing po­si­tion.

7. Re­peat each side for two to three sets.

The Wrist Stretch is an easy way to work in some flex­i­bil­ity be­tween sets of ab­dom­i­nal ex­er­cises. I like to do th­ese be­tween planks (also be­cause I’m able to get some ex­tra rest) be­cause it keeps me en­gaged and fo­cused on max­i­miz­ing work­out out­comes. Matt Par­rott has a doc­tor­ate in ed­u­ca­tion (sport stud­ies) and a master’s in ki­ne­si­ol­ogy and is cer­ti­fied by the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Sports Medicine.


Amanda Price has ex­cep­tional flex­i­bil­ity, but she still does the Wrist Stretch slowly and care­fully. Don’t push it, she says.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY

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