A component of good wrist strengthening exercises is wrist flexibility. Any bodyweight workout will undoubtedly have a push up routine as an essential part. And, while push up benefits most of the upper body, they can put a lot of stress on wrists. Check out the previous post on weak wrist exercises.
As I pointed out in the previous post, when doing most supported body weight exercises on an outstretched hand, the wrist actually bears a good percentage of the body’s weight. If the joint is unstable, out of position, or is not as flexible as it could, or should, be, it could slow your upper body workout routine to a crawl.
The wrist is a small but pretty complex joint. The joint itself has a total of 15 bones that work together to form the joint. 5 of them are actually the hand bones, and 2 others are the arm bones. So, that leaves 8 small bones that actually fill the space between the forearm and hand. The wrist is so complex that any injury to the smallest part can actually lead to some serious dysfunction and nagging pain.
As far as muscles go, there are several muscles that cross the wrist on the front and back sides and then a few on the “sides” of the wrist. But, in general they are divided in to two groups.
First there are the flexors that start on the inside of the upper forearm. These run down the inside of the forearm and cross the wrist on the “palmar” side of the hand. They are responsible for curling your fingers and grabbing/holding on to things, like dumbbells.
The other group is call the extensors. These start on the outside of the elbow, travel down the outside of the forearm and cross the back of the wrist. They are responsible for bending the wrist backward in the “talk to the hand” position. They also are the important in things like twisting motions and gripping motions like the handshake and using scissors.
Keeping both groups of muscles limber and flexible are essential in progressing to upper body body weight workout routine. Whether you are doing regular push ups, handstand push ups, planks, mountain climbers, etc, having flexible wrists is essential.
I found this video that walks through the general positions of wrist stretches. Naturally, you will want to modify them to your personal preferences. There is no magic number of stretches that should be done. But, I have encouraged my patients to “get into a routine” (like brushing your teeth) of doing these stretches to optimize your ability to get the most out of your exercise program.
Keeping your wrists flexible and conditioned is extremely important as you progress with a bodyweight workout routine. This video outlines the general positions that are important in a wrist stretching program. However, once you actually get the hang, and feel of stretching your wrists, you can modify these principles in many different ways to fit your location, your position, and the props that you may have at hand to help.