Wrist pain is a relatively common complaint. If you are suffering from them, the first thing to try is to check your posture to make sure you are not making a mistake that is putting unnecessary pressure on your wrists. If there is nothing wrong with your posture, or if you still have discomfort after correcting it, here are ways you can modify your exercises to prevent this pain. However, you may also want to consult your doctor to make sure you have no injuries that could be causing your pain.
Method 1 of 3: perfecting your posture
Step 1. Warm up your wrists and hands
You may have done a general warm-up routine before starting a workout, but if you plan on doing push-ups, you should also warm up your wrists and hands, especially if your wrists hurt during push-ups.
- To warm up and improve flexibility and strength in your wrists, you can reach out with one hand and spread your fingers apart.
- Move one finger joint at a time, starting with your thumb, clockwise a few times and then counterclockwise a few times. Think of drawing circles as you make this movement. Concentrate on not moving another finger while doing this.
- If you cannot draw circles with one finger without moving the neighboring finger, it indicates a weakness in your hand and wrist muscles that you should work on over time. Continue working with one hand, trying your best to only work the finger joint that you want to move. Then move on to the other hand.
- After completing this simple warm-up exercise, your wrists and hands should feel warm, loose, and more energized than they were when you started the exercise.
Step 2. Check the position of your hands
Placing your hands too far apart or stretching them too far in front of you can put extra pressure on your wrist. By turning your hands inwards or outwards, you are also bringing them into a strange angle that can lead to unnecessary strain.
- While you are in the position you normally use for push-ups, you should stop and look at your wrists. They should be facing forward and all parts of your hand, including your fingers, should be firmly on the floor.
- If your palm is curved or your fingers are raised, it puts pressure on the heel of your hand and can cause wrist pain.
- Make sure that your hands are placed directly under your shoulders with your arms fully extended and not further back or forward. It can be helpful to have someone control you and your posture to make sure your hands are in the correct position so that adjustments can be made if necessary.
Step 3. Avoid stretching your elbows outward
As a beginner, you may be able to do too many push-ups by stretching your elbows to the sides of your body instead of holding them close to you and bending them back against your body.
- While you probably did just that because it's easier if you've just started exercising push-ups, continuing with this technique can place excessive strain on your wrists. Sticking out the elbows can also lead to injury to the shoulder or elbow over time if this gesture is not corrected over time.
- When performing push-ups, your elbows should be bent back at about a 45 degree angle at your sides.
- If you're not sure about the position of your elbows, you can do a few push-ups and have someone watch you to watch your elbows. Usually an observer will have a better perspective than you.
- Practice the correct technique by pushing yourself off a wall while standing. This way, you will develop a better understanding of what it feels like to bend your elbows correctly.
Step 4. Insert your torso
Pushups aren't just an upper body exercise. Performing push-ups using only your upper body without putting any strain on your core puts extra pressure on your wrists and this can lead to pain.
- If you do pushups and any part of your body moves later than another part - for example, your hips sag or your lower body rises later than your upper body - you are not using your core properly.
- If you notice your back swaying or your lower back flexing, you may want to add additional exercises to build more strength in your core before continuing with the pushups so that you can do them correctly without undue pressure exercise on your wrists.
- Practicing forearm supports instead of pushups can help you build more core strength. You may want to start with the half forearm plank, where your weight rests on your forearms instead of your hands, which reduces pressure on your wrists.
Method 2 of 3: Modifying the exercise
Step 1. Try curling your wrists
Rolled-up wrist pushups are gentler on your wrists, while at the same time they strengthen your wrists and forearms. With stronger wrists and forearms, you will be able to do regular pushups with no wrist pain.
- Form a fist and begin your push-ups with your knuckles on the floor. Roll your fist forward and try to touch the ground with the tip of your thumb. In this position, your arms will be straight.
- If you roll backwards, you are reversing the same rolling motion, but this time you are trying to reach the floor with the full face of your fist. Your elbow will be bent, your triceps will be tense, and you should feel a stretch in your wrist. To perform push-ups with your wrist rolled up, simply continue this rolling back and forth motion for the number of planned push-ups.
- You may want to do this version of the push-up on all fours first so that your body weight is better supported. Gradually slide your knees back further until you are able to perform this variation in the full push-up position on your toes.
Step 2. Distribute your weight on your fingertips
To do this variation of push-ups, you can pretend you're holding a basketball and pressing it on the floor with your fingertips.
- Keep your palm flat on the floor, not arched. This simply shifts the weight away from your wrists, which puts less pressure on them and better absorbs the force of your push-ups.
- Be careful and also keep your fingers flat on the floor instead of curling them, as this can put unnecessary pressure on the finger joints.
Step 3. Lift your torso
Changing the position of your hands while performing forearm supports and pushups can help limit the pain in your wrists. By raising your upper body, you can naturally reduce the percentage of your body weight that your hands have to carry.
- For example, you can rest your hands on a bench or stairs that are a few inches above the floor. The rest of the movement is the same as normal push-ups.
- Make sure you maintain good posture anyway. Your elbows should be bent back, snug against your body, and your back should remain flat so that your entire body rises and falls as one.
Step 4. Use dumbbells
By holding dumbbells while performing push-ups, your wrists will stay straight and there will be less pressure on them. The size or weight of the dumbbells is not important because they will be on the floor. All you need is something large that you can comfortably hold and that won't move easily when you're exercising.
- Place a dumbbell under your shoulders at a time. As you sink into the push-up position, you can close your fingers around the handles of your dumbbells with your palms facing each other.
- If the handle of the dumbbell burns in the palm of your hand, you can wrap a small towel around it beforehand to make it easier to grip.
Method 3 of 3: stretching and strengthening your wrists
Step 1. Practice pressure pulses with your fingers or palms
Pressure impulses with the fingers or palms can help you to strengthen the muscles in your hands and also your palms. In addition to being done separately as a strengthening exercise, you can also use them as a warm-up exercise for your hands, fingers, and forearms before doing push-ups.
- To practice pressure impulses with your fingers, place your fingertips on the floor with your palms raised and apply pressure. You can practice this exercise while seated or on all fours to support your weight. Do not do this exercise from the push-up position. Feel the flexor tendons in your fingers stretch and relax. Work your way through this pressure pulse exercise evenly and repeat it about twelve times.
- Palm squeezes work much like calf raises, where you lift your heels and keep your toes on the floor - except that this squeeze exercise works on the forearms. Strong forearms can help you avoid experiencing pain in your wrists during push-ups.
- To perform pressure pulse exercises of the wrists, your hands should be firmly on the floor and positioned directly under your shoulders as if you were doing normal push-ups. You can do this exercise on your knees to support your weight. Raise your wrists while placing your fingers and the base of your knuckles on the floor, and then lower yourself evenly lower. Repeat the exercise twelve to twenty-four times.
Step 2. Loosen your wrists
The wrists can be loosened while either standing or sitting and this will help you stretch the wrists and muscles in your hands. It also loosens your wrists, making them better able to withstand the pressure you put on them during push-ups.
- Extend your arm straight in front of you. The palm of your hand should be facing the ceiling. Bend your right wrist down and back so that your palm is now in front of you and your fingers are pointing at the floor.
- Spread your fingers apart, then use the fingers of your left hand to pull your thumb back until you feel a stretch. Hold this position, take a deep breath, and spread your fingers. Your fingers can develop a tendency to tighten or curl up. Resist this tendency by constantly focusing on keeping it spread.
- After a few breaths, release your thumb and move to your index finger. Continue the same action for all fingers on your right hand. Lower your right arm, straighten your left arm, and repeat the same exercise.
Step 3. Try the gorilla pose
There is a yoga pose that can help you stretch and strengthen your wrists. The gorilla pose is a deep forward bend that ends with your palms under the soles of your feet.
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Bend forward from your hips and bend your knees as much as necessary so that you can place your hands firmly on the floor.
- Bend your wrists inward so the back of your hands are on the floor and your hands are palm up. Lift your toes and slide your hands under your feet. Point your fingers towards your toes.
- As you inhale deeply, massage your wrinkles with your toes. Hold this position for about twenty breaths before returning to a standing position.
Step 4. Improve the range of motion of your wrists
The muscles and tendons in your hands and forearms move your wrists and also your finger joints. Performing these range of motion exercises on a regular basis can help prevent any wrist pain during push-ups. Always do these exercises with one wrist at a time, making sure to switch and exercise the other wrist.
- Use a rolled-up towel that you place on the edge of the table for padding and place your forearm across the table so your hand hangs straight over the edge. Slowly move your hand up until you feel a stretch, hold the stretch for five to ten seconds, and then return to your starting position. Do about ten repetitions of this exercise, then turn your arm so your palm is facing up, and do another ten repetitions of the same exercise.
- You can exercise the back and front of your wrist while standing or sitting with your elbow bent at 90 degrees with your palm facing the floor. Rotate your forearm to turn your palm up, hold the position for five to ten seconds, and then rotate it back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise ten times.
- An ulnar and radial deviation is the sideways movement of your wrist. Using the rolled up towel on the edge of the table again, place your forearm over the table with your hand hanging down as if you were about to shake hands with someone. Move your hand up until you feel a stretch, hold the position for five to ten seconds and lower it in the middle. Then move your hand down until you feel a stretch. Hold this stretch for five to ten seconds before lifting it to the middle. This is a repetition. You should do 10 repetitions on each wrist.
Step 5. Build strength in your hands and fingers
The strengthening exercises for the muscles and tendons in your hands and fingers allow them to take more of your body weight in the push-up position, which then puts less pressure on your wrists.
- Hold your hand up in front of you with your fingers splayed and your thumbs pointing outwards, and slowly move your thumb across the palm of your hand. Hold the position for five to ten seconds, let go and return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise ten times to work on stretching and straightening your thumb.
- Hold one hand in front of you and stretch your fingers out as if to signal someone to stop. Clench your hand into a fist like a hook, hold the position for five to ten seconds, then straighten the hand again. Make a proper fist, hold the position for five to ten seconds, and then return to an outstretched hand again. Finally, form a flat fist (the same as a whole fist, except that your fingers are flat instead of curved on the palm of your hand) and hold the position for five to ten seconds before returning to a straight hand. Do ten repetitions for the full set of exercises, then do the entire exercise with the other hand.