Feel like you can’t open jars, peel the foil off your yoghurt, or hold heavy grocery bags as well as you used to before you injured your wrist? It’s not uncommon to experience these things. Wrist injuries can be painful, so they tend to make us stop using our hands as much, deconditioning the muscles there. Additionally, inflammatory injuries like tendonitis affect grip strength directly, as inflamed muscles and tendons result in impaired strength. Luckily though, there are ways to get your grip back to (and even better than) normal. Without further ado, here are the best grip strength training exercises to do after a wrist injury.
The types of grip strength
We mentioned peeling, opening, and holding for a reason. Each of these activities uses one of the three types of grip strength.
- Your pinch grip affects your ability to grip something between your thumb and any combination of your fingers, without the application of your palm.
- Your crush grip involves using your palm, thumb, and fingers to hold, squeeze, or open items.
- Your support grip (aka your hold grip) is your ability to hold something and hang off of something for an extended period.
Your grip strength is largely dictated by the good health of your tendons and the strength of the extensor and flexor muscles running across your fingers, hand, and forearm (these would be your flexor digitorum profundus, pollicis brevis, carpus radialis and ulnaris, and many more). So, how do we strengthen these muscles enough to eat pickles without issue again?
Grip strength training exercises
Resisted wrist flexion and extension
Resisted wrist flexion and extension activate the muscles responsible for your support and crush grip strength.
- For these exercises, sit on a chair and put your forearm on a flat surface like a table or an armrest. Your elbow should be bent at 90 degrees.
- Get a weight (like a dumbbell or a bottle) or loop a resistance band around your hand and foot and hold it in the hand you want to work on.
- For wrist flexion, place your forearm down on the armrest with your palm facing the ceiling. Your hand and wrist should be hanging over the edge. To start, your hand should be in a straight line with your forearm.
- Flex your wrist upward as far as you find comfortable, then slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat 15-20 times.
For resisted wrist flexion, all you’ll need to change is your turning your palm toward the floor and moving your hand from a flexed position up to align with your forearm.
Keep an eye on your comfort levels throughout this exercise. If you start feeling pain anywhere in your hand, wrist, or forearm, stop, take a break, and try again later (and the same goes for all other exercises on this list). In this instance, you can also try reducing the load by emptying the water bottle halfway or getting a band with less resistance. Once you’re comfortable with this exercise and want to strengthen your grip further, increase the number of reps or increase resistance.
Learn more: Can I Exercise with a Wrist Injury?
This exercise targets your crush muscles.
- If you don’t want to do a cleanup, we’d recommend doing this exercise over a bath or in the backyard. Because as the name might suggest, you’ll be wringing water out of a towel.
- First, run a tea, bath, or hand towel under water and loosely roll it up.
- Stand with your arms outstretched before you and your hands gripping the towel. Your palms should be facing downward.
- Grip the towel tightly and turn your wrists in opposite directions to wring the water out.
- If you feel comfortable, you can continue wringing the towel until water stops dripping out of it. If you feel pain, take a break and try again later.
The pinch transfer is a fantastic workout for your pinch muscles. For this exercise, you can use a weight plate or an alternative thin, flat, and heavy household object like a textbook.
- Stand up straight while holding your chosen object in one hand between your fingers and thumb.
- Lift that arm in front of your chest and transfer the object into your other hand, again gripping it with your thumb and fingers.
- Lower both arms down again.
- Repeat the process 10 times.
For a gentler exercise, you can reduce the number of reps or pick a lighter object to pinch and transfer.
This exercise works on your support grip. To start, you’ll need two dumbbells of 3-5kg each (or if you don’t have any, get a couple of grocery bags and put a couple of water bottles or books in each.)
- Stand up straight and hold a dumbbell in each hand down by your sides. Turn your palms inward toward your body.
- Look straight ahead and walk 30 - 60 metres.
- Put the dumbbells down, take a few breaths to rest, and repeat the exercise another 2 times.
If you find any of these exercises too difficult or painful to do, you can try doing them in a wrist brace. As we mentioned, inflammation in the tendons and muscles may be partially responsible for the loss of strength. Our ManuTrain can help relieve it through its medical compression weave and well-placed silicon pads. These materials also work to relieve pain, helping you use your hands with less discomfort. Additionally, this brace incorporates a support strap that will take some pressure off any injured tendons running through the wrist and improve your ability to grip things while you wear it.
TO SUM UP
As wrist injuries often result in pain and inflammation, it’s not surprising that they can weaken grip strength. However, through an exercise routine targeting all your pinch, crush, and support grip muscles (and with some help from a quality wrist brace), you can recondition weakened muscles and open, squeeze, and grip things as normal again.
See our full collection of medical wrist braces: Wrist Braces Australia | Best Wrist Supports
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.
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