Don't risk your wrists: they are more important than you think


The human wrist is a flexible joint that can straighten, bend, move laterally and rotate.

Basically, the wrist is made up of eight small bones (carpal bones) plus two long bones in the forearm – the radius and the ulna.

The most commonly injured carpal bone is the scaphoid bone located near the base of your thumb.

Like other joints, the wrists also contain several soft tissues, such as ligaments, tendons, nerves and blood vessels.

These soft tissues function with the wrist’s bones and joints to provide movement, sensation and nourishment to the hand.

Due to its small size and ability to withstand pressure and transfer weight from the arm to the hands and fingers, the joint is extremely prone to injury.

The most common wrist movement in daily activities is called the dart-thrower’s arc of wrist motion.

This action involves bending the wrist backward and toward the thumb, and then forward and toward the little finger.

Common everyday activities that involve this motion are hammering a nail, throwing a ball, drinking from a glass, pouring from a jug and closing the lid of a jar.

If you’re spending a lot of time typing at a computer, chances are the wrist joints are probably in a state of constant flexion (bent), hence there is repetitive stress at the area.

This repetitive stress can also result from sports and other activities that involve repetitive motions.

Repetitive stress can cause the carpal tunnel, a tube of nerves and tendons that passes through the wrist, to become thickened and inflamed.

Tendinitis, sprains and strain are other common injuries, which affect the connective tissues of the wrist.

During exercise, especially in the push-up position, it’s important that the wrists be placed in proper alignment.

I’ve heard so many people, especially yoga students, complain of wrist pain when they get into this position – even before the exercise has commenced!

It’s not that your wrists are weak; it’s because the alignment is incorrect and the area is tight as we seldom stretch out the wrists.

To protect your wrist in the push-up position, place your hands about shoulder width apart and keep them close to your chest.

Your index finger should be pointing north, with the thumbs pointing east or west (the thumb and index finger should form an “inverted” number seven or alphabet L).

At the top of the push-up, your hands should be directly under your shoulders. — FilepicAt the top of the push-up, your hands should be directly under your shoulders. — Filepic

At the top of the push-up, your hands should be directly under your shoulders. Placing your hands in front of or behind the shoulder will increase pressure on your wrists.

Be sure to stretch the wrists afterwards, like shown in the picture right on top of this page. Then, switch so that the back of the hands are on the floor, with palms facing up and fingers pointing towards you. Hold these stretches for 20 seconds.

The size of your wrists and hands is a good indicator of how big your arms can potentially get, and having small wrists and hands may limit your arm size.

Bear in mind that small wrists are not an indicator of weakness, as the size depends on your bone structure, and there is nothing you can do to make the bones bigger.

One simple exercise you can do to build wrist strength is to carry heavy dumbbells at your sides, with your arms straight. Hold for 30 seconds. When you get stronger, walk with the weights but make sure you’re carrying even weight on both hands for balance.

Remember, when you fall face down, the tendency is to break the fall with your wrists to protect other body parts from being injured.

So give some attention to strengthening and stretching this little joint.

Revathi Murugappan is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance to express herself artistically and nourish her soul. For more information, email starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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