I Like to Move It Move It...So Do Your Wrists!

Unless you are a high-class server at a swanky upscale restaurant, bending your wrist into full extension every evening while carrying sexy martinis on drink trays, the likelihood that your wrist is able to make it through full extension is dismal. We need bomb wrist mobility for a whole slew of CrossFit movements. Similar to my post last week, more wrist mobility can help avoid cramping and tightness from sitting and typing at a computer alllll dayyyyy longggg. This week's post is going to carry us into next week's analysis of the Front Squat position, a beloved CrossFit movement and wrist mobility nightmare. So let's talk wrists and forearms. First, a brief overview of the anatomy and movement patterns of the wrist. 

The wrist is a gliding joint and has three planes of motion: Flexion and Extension, Radial and Ulnar Deviation, Pronation and Supination. Sometimes the restriction we feel in our wrists when searching for that oh-so-sweet high-elbow front rack is from wrist flexibility. Other times it is from a bit of impingement (dorsal wrist impingement) in the joint itself, along with other possible scenarios. Below is a great image from a gymnastics website showing what can happen when weight is added to a wrist in extension. You can see that the radius is impinging on the carpal bones. The same thing can happen just inversely with a barbell loaded with 45s — because duh we all picture our bars stacked high with 45s.

So with this in mind, let's look at some ways in which we can A) mobilize the tissues surrounding the joint and B) create space in the joint itself. The first three exercises are designed to increase flexibility and ROM. The last exercise is intended to make the soft tissue and fascia in the forearm more supple-icious! At the end, I describe how to do the first three exercises again but with more focus of creating space within the hopefully gliding joint, aka your wrist. 

FINGERS FORWARD ROCKIN'

  On the first exercise, hang out on your hands and knees. With your fingers pointed away from your chest and palms flat on the ground, begin to rock forward and backward, focusing especially on the forward motion. Eventually, you should be able to reach a range of motion where your shoulders are moving past your wrists whilst keeping your palms firmly on the ground. 

 

On the first exercise, hang out on your hands and knees. With your fingers pointed away from your chest and palms flat on the ground, begin to rock forward and backward, focusing especially on the forward motion. Eventually, you should be able to reach a range of motion where your shoulders are moving past your wrists whilst keeping your palms firmly on the ground. 

SIDE TO SIDE SLIDE

  From the same stance as the previous exercise, turn your fingers out to the sides. This time rock side to side instead of front to back. Really lean into each side using your body weight, keeping your elbows straight, while keeping palms planted. 

 

From the same stance as the previous exercise, turn your fingers out to the sides. This time rock side to side instead of front to back. Really lean into each side using your body weight, keeping your elbows straight, while keeping palms planted. 

ROCK IT BACK

  In the same position as the first two exercises only this time keep turning your hands out from the side to side position so that they now face towards your knees. The eye of your elbow should be facing away from your belly. Rock back and forth again, this time focusing on the back instead of the forward as in the first exercise. You should feel a nice stretch on the inside of the wrist (the muscles facing away from you).

 

In the same position as the first two exercises only this time keep turning your hands out from the side to side position so that they now face towards your knees. The eye of your elbow should be facing away from your belly. Rock back and forth again, this time focusing on the back instead of the forward as in the first exercise. You should feel a nice stretch on the inside of the wrist (the muscles facing away from you).

SMASH 'EM

  Lastly, I wanted to offer a foam rolling/smashing option for your forearms. I know many of you have been rolling your quads on the foam roller or barbell or lax ball and been wondering, "gosh, I sure do wish I could do this to my forearms!" Well now you can. All you need is your knee and some weight to put behind it. So, still on your hands and knees, lay your forearm down on the ground. Bring the same side knee (right forearm = right knee) on to your forearm. From there, lay that beast weight down upon it! This one is a little awkward feeling for the first second, your chest does have to be pretty close to your knee to make it work. (Fun little trick to play on your friend: ask 'em to flip you off while doing this, heeelarious to watch them try. Seriously though, do it, it's funny)

 

Lastly, I wanted to offer a foam rolling/smashing option for your forearms. I know many of you have been rolling your quads on the foam roller or barbell or lax ball and been wondering, "gosh, I sure do wish I could do this to my forearms!" Well now you can. All you need is your knee and some weight to put behind it.

So, still on your hands and knees, lay your forearm down on the ground. Bring the same side knee (right forearm = right knee) on to your forearm. From there, lay that beast weight down upon it! This one is a little awkward feeling for the first second, your chest does have to be pretty close to your knee to make it work. (Fun little trick to play on your friend: ask 'em to flip you off while doing this, heeelarious to watch them try. Seriously though, do it, it's funny)

All of these exercises can be done for at least one minute and preferably around two to three, especially the forearm smashing. Some other cool alternatives as I mentioned in the beginning is to add a band to the first three. String up your resistance band to the rig at the very base of it. Put the band right around your wrist and continue through range of motion. This will add extra traction. Example: If doing the first exercise, you would be on all fours facing AWAY from the rig with the band around your wrist while rocking away from the rig.

Another thing, tying in last week's post about mobility on the job, the first three exercises can totally be done ON YOUR DESK. These are great ways to keep your wrists and forearms from cramping up while you type memos, reports, emails, and let's be honest your personal CrossFit memoirs/SugarWOD novels. Sweet, so I think this sets us up nicely for next week's focus on front rack positioning. Let me know how it goes. May the supple wrist be with you this week y'all!