EXERCISE BREAKDOWN: BASIC WRIST MOBILITY
HOW TO DO IT
GET ON YOUR KNEES —> HANDS DOWN – Facing straight ahead or slightly outwards at first. We want a bit of variety with position here, start straight – this is the hardest position – then turn your hands out slightly and try the drill there too, you’ll find you have more range here. Both are useful.
MINIMAL WEIGHT ON YOUR HANDS – We often do this first in a workout; we want to start very gently. Refresh the drill in your head and do a few reps easy before you put any weight through the hands. Keep the weight back in your knees until you’re ready for some load in the wrists.
INITIATE BY EXTENDING AND ROTATING THE ELBOW – You should feel a stretch in your Bicep Tendon at first. If you purposely bend, then re-straighten and externally rotate your elbow you should be able to find perfect position.
THEN LEAN FORWARDS TO STRETCH – rock forwards with the body, being mindful not to change a thing in the arm position. If you force it, or you are tight here, you will want to bend the arms. Don’t. Naughty.
ROCK BACK AND REPEAT – a second or two in the stretch position will be just fine.
SLOWLY BUILD RANGE AND ADD SOME WEIGHT – As you move through a few reps you should find you can increase the range of motion used at the wrist by rocking further and further forward. You should feel the stretch in the front of your wrist in your forearm flexors – more so than the compression in the back of your wrists.
PROTRACT YOUR SHOULDER BLADES FOR BONUS MARKS – As this is a straight arm gymnastic drill – which we are using both for the general benefits and for the potential gymnastic progressions – ideal form will be arms locked and shoulder blades protracted. You can see me do this in some positions here. Encourage this here by pushing the floor away and feeling the stretch in the upper back as you feel the shoulder blades round forward.
HOW IT GOES WRONG AND HOW TO FIX IT
ALL COMPRESSION; NO STRETCH – If all you can feel is the compression in the back of your wrist, don’t just hammer away at it thinking you’re going to get better. You’re just aggravating your wrist by pushing your forearm into your hand. The fix is to take all the weight out of it and focus on getting further away from the floor before you try to increase range. See the ‘create space’ cue below.
TOO MUCH WEIGHT – You’re more likely to feel a compression, and be forced to bend your arms, if there’s too much weight forwards (in your hands rather than your knees). Take all the weight out until you have it perfect and feel almost only stretch in your forearms (not compression in the back of your hands). If you keep getting carried away, imagine there is a sensor under your hands and that more than 5 grams of pressure will result in you being starved for a week. Then go through the drill ten times and see if it feels different!
NOT CONTROLLING ELBOWS – This is pretty common. Usually, people either don’t understand the positioning of the elbows or they don’t give a shit! (they don’t realise its important) -But it is important! You will get the right stretch, you will learn valuable feelings for later in your training and you will have a better life. Value it, understand it, practice it and use your eyes to check you’re where you should be (look at your elbows!).
Different Hand Positions
Take the position into an exercise – meet the Planche
There aren’t really any regressions! It is a basic drill. If it’s too hard, slow down, take nearly all the weight out of your hands and into your knees and simply practice getting into a good straight arm, flexed wrist position. If you simply can’t do that after very careful focused practice – you need specific rehab.
CREATE SPACE – As with any stretch in the body, if we let the bones get too close together and touch, you will not get far. We need to learn to disassociate the bones slightly (pull them apart). Don’t worry, this is only a little bit, we are not pulling out or damaging joints here, it’s just a gentle move. Once you learn to ‘create space’ in the joint capsule, we can then stretch surrounding muscles and fibres much more effectively – and it feels way better.
GET AWAY FROM THE FLOOR – Imagine your hands are stuck down, but there’s a raging fire underneath the floor. Your natural instinct would be to get your face as far away from this as possible. Although overdramatic, this thought helps here! If you are as far away from the floor as possible – you will create space, the arms will be completely straight and the shoulder blades will be naturally protracted… perfect!
FEEL THE FOREARM FLEXORS STRETCH – The old mind-muscle connection will serve us well here. The more you feel the tendons & muscles of your forearm flexors stretching (think Popeye forearms) – the better you’ll do.
PRETEND ITS PLANCHE TIME – If you’ve moved on to Planche work, or basic Planche preparatory drills – pretending all the same teaching points of protracted Scapula, locked elbows, and lean forward will help you, this is basically just a toned down Planche that allows us to really focus on the forearms/wrists.
PRESS THROUGH THE FINGERS – Rather than simply being passive, press the fingers into the floor and then relax them as you stretch further to increase your awareness in this position for future challenges.
WHY DO IT?
Forearms and wrists are very important and often neglected. If you suffer a forearm strain your training can be completely messed up for months. After too many handstands, not enough prep and a ferocious golf injury I’m talking from personal experience here – respect and prep your wrists… I give this high priority with all my clients these days.
Wrists and forearms limit performance way more than you realise – often just hurting on a normal push up or ruining your hanging and Chin-Up work.
There are loads of drills than will help you with this, but this is a great starter and also an ideal no-stress drill that can be used at the start of your warm up.
I suggest you do it!