Why You Need Good Wrist Mobility
The wrist is an area of the body, and yet we don’t often think about it when we’re training. However, it plays an important role in upper body function.
If you’ve ever had wrist pain in a push-up or a plank, or felt like it was hard to grip the bar in a bodyweight exercise, then you might have some limitations in wrist mobility that you weren’t aware of.
Even if you don’t have wrist pain, wrist mobility is still beneficial to work on, because every time you lift an object — be it a dumbbell or a coffee cup — your wrist is involved. Furthermore, since poor wrist mobility can contribute to forearm, elbow, and shoulder issues, working on your wrists can improve overall upper body strength and function.
We’re going to discuss how to identify and address wrist mobility issues, but first, it helps to know a little more about the anatomy of this area.
Anatomy of the Forearm and Primary Movements of the Wrist
The wrist is a synovial joint where the forearm and hand meet. It is comprised of the lower part of the radius and ulna, which are the two bones in the forearm, and the first row of bones in the hand, minus the pisiform.
The muscles of the forearm travel across the wrist and connect to the hand, creating wrist movement when they contract. Many of them attach near the elbow and upper forearm, which is why wrist mobility can influence grip strength, and elbow and shoulder function.
The primary movements of the wrist are flexion and extension. Wrist flexion occurs when you bend your wrist to move your fingers towards your palm. Wrist extension occurs when you pull your fingers back towards your body. Making a stop motion with your hand is a good example of wrist extension.
The muscles located on the front of forearm or the palm side hand are responsible for wrist flexion. They include the flexor carpi radialis, palmaris longus, flexor carpi ulnaris, and flexor digitorum superficialis.
The muscles located on the back of the forearm are responsible for wrist extension. They include the extensor carpi ulnaris, extensor carpi radialis longus and the extensor digitorum.
The wrist can also move side to side in adduction and abduction. Wrist adduction occurs when the wrist bends so that the pinkie finger side of the wrist shortens. The opposite motion, wrist abduction, occurs when the wrist bends so that the thumb side of the wrist shortens. Some of the wrist flexors and extensors also work with muscles in the hand for wrist abduction and adduction.
It is also important to note the actions of the forearm, because of its role in wrist mobility. The forearm can supinate and pronate. If your elbow is bent by your side, forearm pronation occurs when the forearm spins in, so the palm faces the floor. Forearm supination occurs when the forearm spins out, so the palm faces the ceiling.