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A person in a cozy beige sweater holds their wrist and rubs it to reduce the pain.

7 Essential Exercises for Stubborn Wrist Pain

Are you stuck wondering, ‘why does my wrist hurt?’ Or better yet, ‘how can I relieve my wrist pain?’

Stubborn wrist pain is frustrating. It goes away, but as soon as you spend a few hours or more at your computer, it’s back.

In truth, your hands and wrists are responsible for an array of tasks throughout your day - from typing on your keyboard to helping you hold the steering wheel. In fact, your wrists spend a lot of time flexed, causing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and a variety of other painful issues.

Even if you don’t spend your whole day at a desk, lots of on-your-feet jobs can cause pain issues like barista wrist, cashier wrist, and hairstylist wrist.

Pain often happens after repetitive use or after holding your wrist in the same position for a long duration. Like any other part of the body, your wrists need rest and proper care.

Why You Should Strengthen Your Wrists

  1. Prevent Osteoarthritis in the wrist caused by cartilage breakdown overtime.
  2. Prevent breaks and fractures in your wrist. 1 out of 10 osteoporotic fractures occur in the wrist, so by strengthening the associated muscles, you will also help to protect your bones.
  3. Improves grip strength which makes life easier (lifting things, opening things) and increases our bone density, allowing us to avoid future injuries.
  4. Prevents tendonitis and carpal tunnel by strengthening the muscles that would cause this pain.
  5. Increases blood circulation to our wrists, which makes our hands healthier.

So now that you know how wrist exercises and stretches will benefit you, what can you do get rid of that stubborn wrist pain for good?

Let’s get started, here are 7 exercises to help you out!

7 Exercises to Help You Say Goodbye to Wrist Pain

Wrist pain doesn’t just happen from repetitive use in the car or at your computer. Many individuals who are physically active also experience wrist pain.

For instance, when you go to lift weights in the gym, this inevitably places stress on your wrists. The muscles and tendons that run through the wrists are responsible for helping you grip the weights or the bar.

In fact, wrists are one of the top areas for powerlifters or weightlifters to injure after the back, shoulders, and knees. Despite how common it is to have these issues, there are ways you can reduce and prevent it, specifically when it comes to building your body’s strength. Try out the exercises below to fight off wrist pain!

1. Wrist Stretch On All Fours

Stretches are all about improving the flexibility and mobility of your wrists, as well as relieving tight muscles or tendons. This wrist stretch on all fours does this in many ways.

A woman is stretching her wrists on a dock next to a lake. She is also doing a cat pose.

How To Do A Wrist Stretch on All Fours

Body Position: Begin on all fours. This means your knees should be under your hips and your hands should be under your shoulders. Your back should also be in a neutral position.

  1. Flip your right hand so that your fingers are facing you and your palm is facing up.
  2. Slowly shift your body weight backward or until you feel a gentle stretch on the side of your right wrist facing away from you.
  3. Once you feel a stretch, hold for 20-30 seconds.
  4. Then, switch sides!
  5. After this version, place your hand back so that your palm is on the ground.
  6. Gently shift forward, or until you feel a gentle stretch in the part of your wrists closest to you.
  7. Hold here for 20-30 seconds. (For this one, you can stretch both wrists at the same time.)

2. Praying Wrist Stretch

This is another way to stretch the wrists. It may prove to be a more comfortable way for some who find the all-fours position uncomfortable.

A woman sits with her hands at heart center, stretching her wrists as part of her yoga routine.

How to do the Praying Wrist Stretch

Body Position: Begin with your hands in a prayer position in front of your chest. You can be sitting or standing, but ensure there are no armrests that are in the way of your elbows.

  1. Your fingers should be pointing up in the prayer position and your palms resting against each other.
  2. Gently and slowly lower your hands to about waist height. You should feel a gentle stretch.
  3. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  4. Release and repeat if needed.

3. Tennis Ball Squeeze

The wrists can quickly become irritated by gripping objects, such as the steering wheel or weights in the gym. Luckily, there are ways you can make this less aggravating.

Simply amp up your wrist strength with squeezing techniques.

A man squeezes a tennis ball in front of grass.

How to Do The Tennis Ball Squeeze Exercise

Body Position: Sitting or standing with your arms free of obstructions.

  • Hold a tennis ball in your hand.
  • Gently squeeze the tennis ball.
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Release and repeat for 8-10 repetitions each day and for each hand.
  • When you release, spread the fingers wide.

Note: If this is difficult or if it causes pain, leave the tennis ball out of the equation. Instead, squeeze your hand into a fist and hold for 5-10 seconds.

4. Wrist Flexion

If you work any job at a computer, you are likely spend about 8 hours or so sitting at a desk. Use this to your advantage. During your next virtual meeting, aim to get these next two wrist strengthening exercises done.

Strengthening the wrist can prevent a ton of pain and mishap down the road.

Someone is sitting at their desk doing wrist flexion exercises with a blue dumbbell.

How To Do Wrist Flexions

Body Position: Sit in a chair and place your arm so that your hand is just off the edge (your wrist should be just at the edge of the desk).

  1. You can choose to hold a small dumbbell (if you don’t have one, a water bottle does the trick).
  2. Begin by holding your weight or bottle with your hand facing up.
  3. Slowly curl your wrist up and toward you.
  4. Pause, then slowly move your hand back to the start.
  5. Repeat 10 times and for 2-3 sets per side.

5. Wrist Extension

This is the exact opposite of the exercise above. Instead of the wrist flexors, this one is all about strengthening those wrist extensors.

If you’re just starting out, you may have never exercised this muscle, so we would suggest taking it slow and starting with just the motion until you are comfortable with the movement.

A nurse helps an elderly woman hold her wrist up while doing wrist extensions on a couch.

How To Do Wrist Extensions

Body Position: Begin sitting in a chair with your arm placed on your desk so that your hand is just off the edge.

  1. Start with your palm facing down.
  2. Hold a weight or water bottle in your hand.
  3. Gently and slowly lift your hand up toward you.
  4. Pause, then slowly lower.
  5. Repeat 10 times and for 2-3 sets per side.

6. Wrist Circles

Movement always helps. It encourages proper circulation, which brings all those good nutrients and cells into the affected area to help it heal. Wrist circles rotate the wrist and offer up a simple exercise you can do anywhere and anytime.

This helps stretch the tendons running through the wrist, relieving pain.

Two women do wrist circles in a studio setting - they are extending their wrists out and currently have their hands down.

How To Do Wrist Circles

Body position: Sitting or standing with room to hold your arms our in front of you.

  1. Hold your wrists out in front of you.
  2. Gently create circles one way with your wrist, then the other.
  3. Do this for at least 10 circles each way.
  4. Aim to do this 2-3 times a day.

7. Thumb Touches

All of the tendons that control your hands and fingers run through your wrists. By performing thumb touches, you can relieve pressure on certain parts of the wrists and these tendons.

A person is doing thumb touches on their hand to strengthen their wrists against a grey background. Their thumb and index finger are touching.

How To Do Thumb Touches

Body Position: Sitting or standing with your arms free of obstructions.

  1. Gently touch your thumb to your index finger.
  2. Then, touch your thumb to your middle finger.
  3. Then, touch your thumb to your ring finger.
  4. Lastly, touch your thumb to your pinky finger.
  5. Do this about 5 times on each hand.

Want some preventative measures to incorporate into your daily life? Try Wrist Pain? Office Ergonomics 101.

Say Goodbye to Wrist Pain

Wrist pain can create serious problems at work and in your personal life. It can get in the way of you completing your next assignment or you truly enjoying that night in with your significant other. By regularly doing wrist exercises, you can say goodbye to wrist pain for good - and prevent future wrist pain from happening.

Begin with the 7 exercises above and be cautious: if any of the exercises cause pain, ease off and come back to them when your pain levels are subsiding or more tolerable. If the pain persists, it may be best to book an appointment with your doctor or physical therapist.

Read Next: 7 Daily Core Moves to Eliminate Lower Back Pain

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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