Wrist Strengthening Exercises

1
Wrist Extension with a Dumbbell

Man holding dumbbell
A small weight can be used to perform wrist strengthening exercises. Brett Sears, PT, 2013

If you are looking to improve or maintain strength in your wrists, this step-by-step guide can help teach you simple exercises to perform at home. They only require a small weight and a table to rest your forearm upon. If you do not have a dumbbell, you can use a can of soup or water bottle. These exercises can be performed with a resistance band as well.

Your wrists are complex joints with many bones, muscular attachments, and nerves that travel through the area. The muscles that move your wrists and forearms extend from areas above your elbow and from your forearm to your fingers.

If you have suffered an upper extremity injury and require physical therapy to help return to your previous level of function, then your physical therapist may prescribe wrist strengthening exercises to help you regain normal wrist and arm function.

Common injuries that may require you to perform wrist strengthening exercises include, but are not limited to:

If you are an athlete who participates in a sport that requires throwing or overhead motions such as in baseball, tennis, or volleyball, then you may wish to incorporate wrist strengthening exercises in your injury prevention strengthening program. Strong wrists are also necessary to complete an effective golf swing.

Before starting this or any other exercise program, you should check in with your doctor to ensure that it is safe for you to proceed. To start the wrist strengthening exercises, sit in a chair with your forearm resting on a table. Hang your wrist and hand over the edge of the table.

Hold a 2-3 pound dumbbell in your hand with your palm facing down, and slowly lift your hand so the back of your hand moves towards the ceiling. Your forearm should remain on the table.

Once your wrist is fully extended, hold the end position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your hand down. Repeat this motion for 10-15 repetitions, and perform 2-3 sets.

2
Dumbbell Wrist Flexion

Wrist flexion with dumbbell
Rest your forearm on a table and flex your wrist to improve wrist strength. Brett Sears, PT, 2013

After performing wrist extension, continuing resting your forearm on the table, and turn your hand over so your palm is facing the ceiling.

While keeping your forearm against the table, flex your wrist up so that your palm moves towards the ceiling. Once your wrist is fully flexed, hold the position for 2-3 seconds. Then, slowly lower hand back to the starting position.

Repeat the wrist flexion exercise for 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. Then move on to  the next exercise.

3
Wrist Supination with a Dumbbell

Wrist supination with a dumbbell.
Use a weight to add resistance to your wrist strengthening exercises. Brett Sears, PT, 2013

Wrist supination refers to the motion of turning your wrist over so your palm is face up. The main muscles that help to turn your wrist over are the biceps muscle in your upper arm and smaller muscles in the forearm.

To perform this exercise, sit in a chair with your forearm resting on a table. Make sure your wrist and hand are over the edge of the table.

Hold a small 1-3 pound dumbbell in your hand with one end in your palm, like holding a hammer. Slowly allow your hand and wrist to rotate over so your palm is face up towards the ceiling. Hold the end position for a few seconds, then slowly rotate your hand back up so the dumbbell is straight up once again.

You can should then allow your hand and wrist to slowly rotate over so your palm is facing down (a position called pronation). Hold this position for a second or two, and slowly rotate your hand back up so the weight is pointing to the ceiling.

Repeat this exercise for 10-15 repetitions. Two to three sets of this exercise can be performed a few time each week. The supination exercise is typically combined with the pronation exercise explained in the next step.

4
Wrist Pronation with a Dumbbell

Man holding small dumbbell
Hold a small dumbbell and turn your wrist over to improve wrist strength. Brett Sears, PT, 2013

Wrist pronation refers to the position of your hand facing down as if you were pouring a pitcher of water.

To strengthen your wrist pronators, sit in a chair with your forearm supported on a table and your wrist and hand over the edge. Hold one end of a 1-3 pound dumbbell with the weight pointing up towards the ceiling.

Slowly rotate your hand so your wrist and palm are facing down towards the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly rotate your hand back to the starting position with the weight pointing up towards the ceiling.

Slowly allow your wrist to rotate into supination with your palm facing up. Once your palm is facing up, hold the end position for a few seconds, and slowly return your wrist to the starting position.

Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions of wrist pronation. The pronation exercise can be combined with the supination exercise in the previous step.

After an injury to your wrist, elbow, or shoulder you may benefit from physical therapy for work on improving range of motion and strength of your arm. Wrist strengthening exercises may be a part of that physical therapy program.

If you are an athlete who performs a lot of overhead throwing or swinging, your physical therapist can also help you develop a strengthening program to help you prevent injury while participating in your sport.

Check in with your doctor or physical therapist before starting this wrist strengthening program to make sure that these are safe for you to perform.

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