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Photo of a woman in athletic clothes sitting on an exercise bench and holding her wrist

3 Exercises to Eliminate Wrist Pain

Writing poetry, playing the piano, typing away for hours on end, doing pushups in the gym, driving around town. Those are just a few of the jobs that we ask our wrists to do. Throughout those tasks we flex them, extend them, move them laterally side-to-side, and they also pronate and supinate. If you pause to think about what all the wrists are capable of, you'll realize they're incredible pieces of machinery.

Yet I hear from so many people who are struggling with wrist pain. The vast majority of the time, they say they're doing one (or more) of the tasks above when the symptoms kick in. However, they also tell me that they're dealing with pain in only one wrist (or experiencing pain more in one wrist than the other), despite the fact that many of our daily activities require both wrists are involved. Typing, playing the piano, and exercising all require both wrists to do the same job at the same time.

So if both wrists are doing the same job at the same time but each is experiencing very different symptoms, we can't blame the activity for your pain! Instead, we have to look at the body coming to the job. More specifically, we have to look at the difference in shoulder positions.

What's true about wrist pain is that it's caused by the shoulder. When the shoulder stops working properly, the wrist gets asked to do more work than it's functionally capable of doing. The wrist pain is simply the body's way of alerting you to an issue in the shoulder. The good news is that the solution is simple: regain function in the shoulder and eliminate pain in the wrist (or elbow, for that matter).

If we retrace our steps even farther down the kinetic chain away from the wrist, we'll no doubt discover a dysfunctional pelvic girdle as well. Ultimately we need to ensure that the pelvis is properly aligned so that the spine stacks up properly. When the spine is properly aligned, the shoulders will be in their proper, functioning position, and the wrist pressure will be eliminated.

So, let's get to it! The following three E-cises will reestablish a proper pelvic position while reconnecting the hips and shoulders. Follow them in order, and do them daily.

Frog Pullovers

A photo of a woman performing frog pullovers

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Center your feet along the mid-line of your body and let your knees relax down to the sides.
  3. Place the soles of your feet together.
  4. Interlace your fingers and place your hands above your chest with your elbows locked.
  5. Lower your hands toward the floor above your head and then return them to above your chest.
  6. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Standing Arm Circles

A photo a woman standing and performing arm circles

  1. Stand with your feet pointed straight and hip-width apart.
  2. Place your fingertips into the pad of each hand and point your thumbs straight out. (This is referred to as golfer's grip and maintaining this hand position is important for the exercise to be done correctly.)
  3. Pull your shoulders back by squeezing your shoulder blades together and down, then bring your arms out straight from your sides up to shoulder level.
  4. With palms facing down and thumbs pointing straight forward, rotate your hands up and forward in approximately 6-inch circles 40 times.
  5. Then reverse direction: Palms should now face up, with thumbs pointed straight backward. Rotate your hands up and backward, 40 times.

Standing Elbow Curls

  1. Stand at a wall with your heels, hips, upper back, and head against the wall.
  2. Your feet should be pointed straight and hip-width apart.
  3. Place your knuckles against your temples with your thumbs pointing down to your shoulders (golfer's grip).
  4. Open and pull back your elbows so they are against the wall, then close your elbows together in front of your face. Keep your elbows up at shoulder level; do not let them drop down.
  5. Do 30 reps.

After doing these E-cises, focus on what's different. Is there less pain? Are you more balanced? Do you have more range of motion in your shoulders? When you get back to the tasks that usually cause you pain, are you able to perform them symptom-free? I'm guessing you're going to see a difference quicker than you might imagine!