Modern day has us working at desks, typing on keyboards and pushing a mouse around for hours on end.
And while this is far less strenuous than, say, working on an oil rig, there are some some serious consequences to being stuck in a fixed position all day.
We’ve covered how being hunched over all the time affects your back, hips, and shoulders, but today we want to show you how to keep your wrists strong and healthy.
And just to be clear, your wrists can be stiff and sore from many things, not just desk and computer work. So the exercises we show you here can benefit you regardless of why your wrists are cranky.
We’ve outlined 3 crucial steps you can take to keep your wrists healthy and free from injury (hopefully).
How Do Your Daily Habits Affect Your Wrists?
Most of us are going through the same motions every day. You could be at a computer typing away, holding a phone, or hammering nails on a construction site. Regardless of what you’re doing, over time there will always be some repetitive strain going on.
And with repetitive movement usually comes some discomfort, stiffness, soreness and sometimes injuries, also known as RSI (repetitive strain injury).
If we don’t reverse out of the movement patterns and do some preventative maintenance work, our wrists could get worse. And as they say… “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
One great way to combat repetitive movements, like typing or using a mouse, is to take regular breaks and deliberately get out of the movement pattern.
Just getting up out of your chair, and moving around while shaking your wrists does wonders. Not only can you stretch your wrists out, the rest of your body gets a break too.
We asked some of our clients who work at desks most of the day how it was affecting their wrist health and they told us what they’re doing about it. 👇
You can find the wrist prep he’s referring to in our article all about wrists. Make sure you watch the videos.
For most, wrist soreness or stiffness comes from not moving them enough or from repeating the same pattern over and over without much variance in movement.
The most important thing is to disrupt the habit you’re in with a break. Take some time, even just 5 minutes a few times per day to move your wrists in a different way.
Next, take a good look at your work setup.
If you sit at a desk, how are the ergonomics? Sometimes you can get a lot of relief by optimizing your desk height or getting a chair that is better suited for you.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated. You could put your laptop on a stack of books or an old box, and use an external keyboard + mouse. This way, you’ll be looking straight ahead instead of down.
Here’s what GMB Trainer Rose uses for a quick workspace adjustment:
When your space is modified in this way, it allows you to pull your shoulders back while spreading your hands out a bit, which is already a much better position for your wrists.
You might already know sitting can be hard on you if you stay in that position for too long.
For example, if you’re sitting all day, just getting a new chair that fits you well will help keep your body in a position allowing for better posture.
And that goes a long way for feeling better and relieving tension that builds up in the forearms and wrists at the keyboard.
Apparently our client liked this chair. No shame in getting the pink though. ☺️
Many times, we don’t believe we can do too much to change our situation but if you get creative, you can greatly reduce the potential for sore wrists, and everything else that comes from being in a fixed position for too long.
Remember—you don’t have to do everything we’re suggesting here, but be creative with your own situation and give some of these ideas a try. You might be surprised at how much better you’ll feel when you make a focused effort to use some of the exercises below.
Most of us know what those long Zoom calls are like, so be sure you take some time to get up and move around. This client uses the 15-minute sessions from Elements. Just pick the 15-minute workout and follow along in the app!
How To Relieve Wrist Tension Effectively
We all get tension in our wrists and the rest of our bodies when we stay in a position for too long. So we broke down some movements you can do with a little space on the floor, or while sitting at your desk to release some tension and get your wrists opened up again.
You can do these as often as needed.
Here are the movements:
- Start on your stomach (or in your chair).
- Start with arms overhead, draw a half circle down to your sides, rotating your palms up.
- Squeeze shoulder blades together and lift your hands as they move to your hips, tracking your spine with your thumbs.
- Reverse the movement and slide your fingers on ground as you circle back up overhead.
- Start with your hands out in front of you with your fingers spread out.
- With your palms open, pull the back of your hand toward your forearms.
- To make it more intense, place your hands down on a flat, sturdy surface and press down and rock back and forth.
Floppy Wrist Shakes
- Let your wrists hang limp and shake them back and forth. That’s it!
- This helps relieve tension in the wrists and forearms.
- Hold your hands out in front of you and make a fist with palms facing down.
- Pull your elbows in and keep them glued to your side.
- Without moving your arms, make circles in both directions with as much range of motion possible.
Using Self Massage to Relieve More Tension
We are big believers in doing everything you can to feel and perform at your best. If you have fancy massagers, go ahead and use those to loosen up your forearms and wrists. But if you don’t, you can do a simple 1-minute forearm massage.
GMB Trainer Eduardo shows you how here:
This massage is also a good way to actively aid in your recovery.
Strengthening Your Wrists to Keep Them Healthy And Strong
A lot of times, if your wrists are sore and tight, it’s because you need to move them around and stretch them out more. But another thing you could be lacking is adequate strength in certain positions as well.
Most people complain of wrist pain when they go to do something that bears any load with their hands—whether that be handstands, lifting weights at the gym, or playing with their kids on the floor.
This type of training has you on all fours using animal movements, and when you spend enough time on your hands, you build up strength, dexterity, and mobility at the same time.
And these skills carry over to harder movements like handstands, and inverted presses. Basically anything that requires you to bear some load with your hands.
Instead of doing isolation exercises to strengthen your wrists, we believe dynamic movements, using your full body, are the key to making progress.
Get Stronger, Healthier Wrists With a Foundation in the Basics
With Elements, you’ll build a foundation of strength, flexibility, and control, learning how to move your body mindfully with purpose.