Lack of wrist mobility can be the limiting factor for many of our members in movements like cleans and front squats. I usually hear comments like ‘my wrists feel like they are going to break’ or ‘there is piercing pain shooting up my forearm.’ These are statements that I would prefer not to hear from an athlete. However, your poor wrist mobility (and more than likely, your accompanying poor thoracic mobility/posture) can be caused by many factors, such as typing at your keyboard all day and checking Facebook too often. If you can’t break your Facebook habit then here are some sure fire ways to improve your wrist mobility:
1) Wrist Rotations. This is very basic. Wrap your fingers together and move your wrists around in every possible direction. Hold any position that feels a little tender/limited for a few seconds. Repeat often throughout the day.
2) Planche Push Up Position. Get into a plank position (elbows fully extended at the top of the push up). Turn your hands inward so your fingertips are pointing toward your toes. Keeping a rigid torso, shift your body forward so you have an angle from your shoulders to wrists. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds (or as long as you can bear) and repeat. If this is too intense, drop down to your knees and complete.
3) Front Squat Rack Position. If this position is bothering you as you front squat, chances are you need to get your wrists working through the range of motion required for a front squat. It is not your wrists holding the bar in place, it is your shoulders but . . . you need good wrist mobility to get that heavy bar sitting correctly on top of your shoulders. Load a bar on a desired rack setting. Set up in a rack position, with your elbows pointing as far forward as possible and weight sitting on your shoulders. Pick up the bar and rotate your elbows forward, then re rack the bar. Repeat this process until you see a change in your rack position.
4) Static Holds. Pull your wrist back into extension and/or flexion and hold for at least 20-30 seconds.
5) Wrist Walks. I just discovered this drill and love it. Place your palms on a wall, with your arms straight and fingers pointing to the ceiling. Keeping contact with the wall, walk your hands down the wall. Go as far down as possible without letting your palms come off the wall. Once you reach the point where you can’t walk your hands down any farther, turn your hands around so your fingers are now pointing to the floor. Walk your wrists back up the wall as far upward as possible. Repeat as desired.
6) Check Your Keyboard. Get your wrists in a neutral position when typing! Check out Invictus extraordinaire Cynthia Lumley’s article on a standing work desk.
Enjoy these drills and I wish you good wrist health! If you have other wrist drills that have helped you improve your wrist mobility then please post them to the comments section.