We don’t tend to give our hands and wrists much thought when it comes to exercise. They aren’t full of big muscles or extra flesh we think we want to tone or train, however our hands literally are our greatest tool. We use them in everything we do. Fastening buttons, writing a note, typing a text, writing an e-mail, tying our laces, taking a photo, cooking, eating, driving, catching a ball, holding a racquet, carrying a bag, holding a hand, practically every action we take involves our hands. Some of these actions we repeat over and over for many hours a day, so it is not such a surprise when we feel pain at times in our wrists. Pain can also occur when we do something we maybe don’t do so often, like exercise in a four point kneeling position such as swimming prep, cat/cow, or holding a plank, common positions in Pilates and Yoga.
Our wrists, arms and shoulder complex are all interconnected. So that shoulder tightness or that arm ache may also be helped by spending a bit of time stretching out and releasing tension from the whole arm including the wrists.
So let's show our hands and wrists some love and care with these few simple stretches that you can do anywhere at any time. (You get extra benefit the more you smile, something I need to remind myself of looking at some of these pictures 🤣)
Inner forearm and hand stretch
Hold your right arm outstretched in front of you at shoulder height palm facing up. With your left hand pull back your little finger down and back towards your forearm, stretching the palm away from you. Hold for a couple of breaths, then move to stretch back the ring finger, hold for a few breaths, move to the middle finger, pointer finger and finally the thumb. Lastly pull all the fingers together and feel a nice stretch.
Repeat on the left hand.
Upper back shoulder stretch
Reach your arms in front of you at shoulder height, Place your right arm over the top of the left, bring the palms together and interlock the fingers, draw the elbows apart and feel a stretch across your upper back, now reach the hands forwards and round the spine forwards pulling your belly back creating a c curve of the spine, look down at the floor/your lap if seated, hold for a couple of breaths. Drop the shoulders away from the ears as you hold the stretch.
Repeat but starting with your left arm on top of the right.
Outer forearm and upper chest stretch
Interlock your hands at your lower back, roll your shoulders up and back then straighten and reach your arms long behind you. Aim to keep a neutral spine and the crown of your head reaching to the ceiling. Hold for a few breaths.
Repeat but with the hands interlocked with the opposite pointer finger at the top of the interlock (one way will feel automatic and natural, the second time you pause and need to consider placing the opposite finger on top).
Arm cogs and wrist/chest stretch
Raise arms out into a T position, reach through the fingertips and turn one hand up and the other down, now rotate the arms in opposite directions 10 times. A bit like you are trying to turn a door knob with the hands, reaching wide as if the doorknob is just out of reach. After the 10th time pause with the arms long, then flex the wrist on each arm and reach your fingers towards your forearms, one hand should be palm up one palm down, to maximise the stretch take your arms just slightly behind you. Repeat a few times. (It is a nice little arm toning exercise too).
These exercises are just a few of my favourites for the wrists and ones I have found work when I personally have experienced bouts of wrist pain. They are also a great antidote to any period of time spent working at a desk.
Then the next time you come to do a four point kneeling or plank position take a moment to carefully place your hands down. I like to place the outer edge of my pinky finger down on the mat first and then roll in through the base of all the fingers, stretching the palm wide and reaching the fingers long as you go, lastly placing the thumb on the mat. You should see the colour of your mat between your fingers. This allows you to spread the weight through the whole base of the hand and not just dump all the weight into the base of the wrist.