Let’s say you’re working out - for this example, let's just assume you have a workout of bench press heavy sets, then a bit of bear crawls, handstand pushups, and thrusters (apparently you really want to work on your front rack and overhead positions).
During the bench, you start to feel a little pinch in the wrist. So you adjust your grip and it feels better. But it comes back during your bear crawls, handstand pushups, and thrusters. It keeps getting worse and worse to the point that it is really annoying.
As always, you don’t stop because that would be too easy. So you push through it.
Afterward, the pain dulls just a little but is still there. Is this a new pain? Probably not; you’ve been ignoring it for several weeks (or has it been months?). Either way, it needs to go. But what do you do?
ALWAYS remember this: It is your right and your responsibility to be able to manage your own pain.
The video above will show you a joint mobilization technique that might be right for you. Obviously, everyone is different and your wrist discomfort may be completely different than what another athlete is dealing with.
If you want to be absolutely sure how to fix your wrist pain, schedule a physio eval with NorCal Physiotherapy to get started fixing your wrist pain. But once you schedule, come back and read the rest below.
For the majority of wrist pain, we can trace the origin to the shoulders.
Maybe you have some external rotation deficits during your front rack position, or you don’t have good stability during bear crawls. Both of these will cause compensatory movements that might change how the wrist moves and how the muscles work - often too much movement and too much muscle strain. The answer - fix the shoulder and the wrist follows.
But what if the wrist pain actually completely originates from the wrist? If you already assessed and cleared the spine, shoulders, and elbows what do you do about the wrist?
But first, What even is a wrist?
The wrist is made up of many bones. We have the 2 forearm bones (radius and ulna) and we have 8 carpal bones (Scaphoid, Lunate, Triquetrum, Trapezoid, Trapezium, Capitate, Hamate, Pisiform). These carpal bones attach to the metacarpals (the hand bones). These bones articulate together and make up the wrist.
Additionally, to make it a bit more confusing, we have a large number of muscles crossing this area. These are the powerful muscles that control gripping and wrist movement. They even are able to assist with elbow movements, which come into play during injuries such as lateral and medial epicondylalgia (tennis elbow and golfers elbow).
As you can imagine, the complexity of this group of structues can make easy for something to go wrong. More joints and muscles, more likelihood of some movement or mobility limitation in the wrist and forearm. If one joint is stiff or one muscle weak, something else has to take over.
The first, logical step in treating the wrist pain is to assess. We absolutely need to know if the problem is from the muscles, joints, nerves, or all of the above.
We’re going to skip that part for now.
Why? Because it is extremely hard to take an objective look at yourself and give a good assessment. Also, there’s no way to teach a full assessment in a small online post. You absolutely need to get a thorough assessment to determine the cause. Find a good healthcare provider who understands the biomechanics of the wrist. Schedule an Physio Eval with us, if you want.
The nice thing about this self-treatment (and our other wrist and forearm self-treatments) that will be presented is that it can be a very low intensity. Yes, you can absolutely make it hard and intense, but this allows you to start off easy and progress as you want. Because there is so much variability, you can use these as a trial and error if you don’t want to be bothered by getting an assessment.
I typically use joint mobilizations as a first treatment method because of the absolute power in these techniques. There are numerous studies published that suggest joint mobilizations have a positive effect on the muscles.
So if you have joint tightness, mobilizing the joint will help improve joint mobility. But also, mobilizing the joint will help improve muscle mobility. So yeah, a pretty great place to start because you get both muscle and joint improvement.
The only tool you need for this joint mobilization is a band. As stated before, choose your own intensity, so start with a small band and progress to a thicker one as you are able.
But remember - more is not always better.
Check out the video for a thorough explanation but here are the key points:
Give this mobilization a shot and tell us how it works out for you. This is a great technique that I have used frequently when my wrist starts acting up.