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Wrist pain with gym training

Image: Retrain Health

So! The wrist is a complicated joint involving 8 different bones; your ulna and radius (forearm), and a bunch of supporting muscles, and ligaments, which you need to grab, roll, push, pull etc.

When we look at the wrist in training, we generally*(*depending on your training) consider 2 main capabilities – mobility and stability.

Wrist mobility is the ability of your tissues, and joints, to get into specific positions, and is vital for activities such as, barbell squatting and bench pressing, and pulling motions involving the shoulder.

The first thing we can do to work on getting into these positions is to assess and improve on mobility. Remember – if you are mobile enough to get into the position and still experiencing issues, you may need to work on the stability of the joint in specific positions, increasing its ability to handle load. In general – mobility first, stability second, strength after that.

A couple of mobility exercises I like just need a table/bench/plyobox to perform.

Wrist extension

  1. Place your hand on a box palm down, like below, and slowly rock your shoulder/bodyweight forward and backward over your wrist to the point of a stretch – it should not pinch, or be overly painful!

Wrist flexion

  1. Place your hand on a box palm up, like below, and slowly rock your shoulder/bodyweight forward and backward over your wrist to the point of a stretch – it should not pinch, or be overly painful!

After you have stretched through your forearm and wrist flexors, you can begin loading your wrist with increased range of motion.

When pressing, ideally, we want to have our wrist stacked over our elbow for maximum stability – that means that if we drew a line between your wrist and your elbow, they would line up! The same can be said for ankles and knees when squatting.

The images below deomnstrate a poorly stacked wrist (left) and a correctly stacked wrist (right). On the left, you can see that the position of the wrist places a lot of stress into the flexor structures of the wrist, increasing load through muscles and tendons.

Image: Retrain Health - Poorly stacked wrist Left vs Well stacked wrist Right.

We can build on this idea, and use it for any upper back work as well – e.g. the wrist should line up with hand etc. but keep in mind when doing upper back exercises, your hands should act as hooks – simply holding the weight, you don’t need to white knuckle for the whole time.

If you’re experiencing wrist pain while training – try a few of the above modifications and see if it changes your symptoms!

If you get some good change – start there and slowly increase loading. If pain still persists, contact one of the friendly osteopaths at Retrain Health to get a thorough assessment and plan to get you back into doing the things you love.


Retrain Health is based in the Northern Rivers, NSW. From our Byron Bay and Ballina clinics, our team provides a range of quality healthcare services and products.

Retrain Health offers osteopathy, remedial massage and strength and conditioning, and PT sessions, with qualified practitioners.

If you are interested in finding out more information or would like to book an appointment, please contact the clinic by phone (02) 6680 7447, send us an email or click here to book an appointment online.

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