Healthy, strong, and mobile wrists are important for efficient, effective, and sustainable performance in weightlifting, gymnastics, and other functional movements. The wrists are often asked to stabilise and support significant load in unnatural positions during workouts. Whether it be holding a barbell overhead in a jerk, stabilising in a handstand walk, or the turnover and catch in the clean, the wrists should be properly primed and adequately strengthened. This is particularly important for those athletes who do work that involves significant time at a computer or on a device. Wrist warm-ups exercises are vital.
The good news is that there are a number of wrist and forearm mobilising drills, and these can be performed in a variety of settings, including at your desk. Check out these seven.
Don’t forget that in addition to stretching and mobilising, having supportive gear can make all the difference in the world. Check out our selection of wrist wraps.
7 Wrist Warm-Up Exercises
1. Wrist Rolls
Super simple stuff here. Lock your fingers together so the palms are facing and slowly rotate your wrists clockwise, anti-clockwise, forward, backward, and everything in between. Wrist rolls help prime and lubricate the joint for further stretching. Add these in throughout your day to keep your wrists mobile and avoid stiffness and aches.
2. Kneeling Leans
Whilst kneeling on the ground or standing above your desk, turn the hands to 3:00 and 9:00 and place them on the ground. Slowly rock backward, forward, and sideways, being careful not to be too aggressive in your stretch. Include spreading and closing your fingers to activate the smaller muscles and tendons in your hands.
3. Broom Twist/Dumbbell Twist
Either with your elbow locked into your side and arm parallel, or braced on a bench, grasp a a broom handle or dumbbell as if holding a hammer and rotate clockwise and anti-clockwise to the end range of your motion. Keep the weight low and perform 10-15 reps on each side. This exercise has the added benefit of strengthening the muscles and tendons along the forearm and elbow.
4. Elbow Pass-Throughs
A staple in most weightlifting warmups, front and back rack elbow pass-throughs are a great way of loosening up your lats, thoracic spine, and wrists. Take a barbell in the back or front rack position, and with a full grip on the bar, rotate one elbow through and up, holding at your end ROM for 1-2 seconds. Continue these for between 10-15 reps, extending further each rep.
5. Front Facing Elbow Rotations
Taking the same position as the kneeling leans, spread your fingers out, and take a slight lean forward. Once here, rotate your elbow joints so that they face forward, pausing for a moment before rotating back. Be sure to keep your hands in a stable still position.
6. Prayer Stretch
Stand with your elbows bent and palms together, with your fingers pointing upward in a prayer position. With your hands pressed together, slowly lower your hands toward the ground. Continue moving until you feel a light stretch through your forearms and wrists before returning to neutral. Repeat this movement, proceeding lower to your waist each rep.
7. Wrist Walking
Stand facing a wall with your arms outstretched, palms against the wall and fingers pointed up. Keeping your hand flat against the wall, slowly walk your wrists down as far as you can and hold that stretch. Repeat with your fingers pointed down.
If you found this blog helpful, learn about exercises that can help alleviate wrist pain.