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Understanding and Overcoming Wrist Pain During Push-Ups: A Physiotherapist's Guide

Push-ups are a fantastic exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, promotes upper body strength, and enhances overall fitness. However, many individuals encounter wrist pain when performing push-ups, which can be discouraging and hinder their progress. As physiotherapists, we want to shed light on this common issue, providing insights into the causes of wrist pain during push-ups and offering practical strategies to overcome it.

Understanding the Causes:

  • Insufficient wrist mobility: Limited wrist mobility can place excessive stress on the joint during push-ups, leading to discomfort and pain. Factors like previous injuries, joint stiffness, or inadequate warm-up can contribute to reduced mobility. Most often, a restriction in wrist extension is a contributing factor.

  • Poor technique: Incorrect push-up form can significantly strain the wrists. Common mistakes include excessive wrist extension or flexion, incorrect hand placement, or shifting weight excessively towards the fingers.

  • Weak forearm muscles: Insufficient strength in the forearm muscles, particularly the wrist flexors and extensors, can lead to wrist pain during push-ups. Weakness in these muscles can result from lack of conditioning or excessive typing or gripping activities.

  • Pre-existing Conditions: Certain underlying conditions, such as arthritis, tendinitis, or carpal tunnel syndrome, may make your wrists more susceptible to pain during push-ups. If you have a history of wrist injuries or these conditions, it is essential to exercise caution and seek professional advice to manage your symptoms effectively.

Strategies to Alleviate Wrist Pain:

1. Warm-up and Stretching: Prior to performing push-ups, it is essential to warm up the wrists and surrounding muscles. Performing wrist specific stretches and mobility exercises can help. This will increase blood flow and improves joint range of motion. For specific mobility exercises, check out our Instagram @royalcityphysio.

2. Gradual Progression: If you experience wrist pain during push-ups, start with modified push-up variations that decrease the load on the wrists. Perform push-ups on an elevated surface, such as a bench or step, allowing your body to gradually adapt to the exercise.

3. Optimal Hand Placement: Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and align them with your shoulders. Avoid excessive wrist extension or flexion; instead, maintain a neutral position, with fingers pointing forward or slightly outward.

4. Strengthen Forearm Muscles: Incorporate exercises that target the forearm muscles into your fitness routine. If you need guidance, seek professional advice. Exercises could include; wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, and grip strengthening exercises using a resistance band or a stress ball.

5. Exercise Modifications: Adapt the push up so your wrists are in a more neutral position. Try doing a push up from your fists, or use dumbbells or Y-bells to lift you off the floor. This will help direct force through the middle of the wrist, reducing stress and strain on the joint. It will also help strengthen your wrists and forearms so you can better tolerate palms flat in the future.

6. Seek Professional Guidance: If wrist pain persists or worsens despite implementing the above strategies, it is advisable to consult a qualified physiotherapist. They can assess your condition, provide specific exercises, and offer personalized advice to address any underlying issues.

Wrist pain during push-ups is a common concern that can be addressed with appropriate strategies and modifications. By understanding the causes and implementing the suggested techniques, you can overcome this hurdle and continue to progress in your fitness journey. Remember, listening to your body, paying attention to technique, and seeking professional guidance when needed are key elements for a safe and effective exercise routine. Stay consistent, be patient, and enjoy the benefits of push-ups while maintaining wrist health.

As always, if you need more guidance or have a specific wrist injury that may need more care , book an appointment with any of our knowledgeable physiotherapists today! You can call our clinic at 604-553-1203 or book online by clicking here.


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