Body weight exercises like pushups and squats are a great way to improve flexibility and muscle endurance while minimizing risk of injury. These exercises can be performed without additional equipment and in nearly any location. Sometimes, however, individuals experience wrist pain when performing pushups, preventing them from including this exercise in their workout regimen.
There are several possible causes of wrist pain when doing pushups. An underlying condition, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, can be aggrevated by the increased pressure placed on the wrist during exercise. Arthritis is another chronic condition that can interfere with pushup execution. An acute wrist injury, such as a muscle strain or ligament sprain, can cause pain during pushups.
In the case of these ailments mentioned above, make sure to receive proper guidance from health care professionals before continuing to include pushups in your workout routine. Treatment options may include rest, physical therapy, and surgical procedures depending on the severity of the condition.
Sometimes, all that stands between an individual and pain-free pushups are flexibility exercises to improve wrist range of motion and strength. Lack of flexibility can hinder wrist motion during the pushup movement, and it is very simple to stretch the muscles of the forearm that cross the wrist joint. With the palm of the hand facing down, hold the arm in front of the body and parallel to the ground — use the opposite hand to gently pull the hand up and back until a slight stretch is felt; hold for 20 seconds. Push the hand down until a stretch is felt and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat with other hand.
Adjustments to pushup form can also help eliminate wrist pain. Some individuals are able to perform pushups on their fists, keeping the wrist locked in a straight position and avoiding extreme wrist flexion. Swiveling pushup bars, like the Perfect Push-up, claim to reduce wrist strain and move through the range of pushup motion. Pushups performed at an incline — for example, leaning against a workout bench — reduce the weight carried by the wrist during the exercise and can be used to gradually increase the strain on the wrist until full body weight can be used.
The Livestrong website offers many helpful articles for anyone seeking to avoid wrist pain when doing pushups. Pushups are a wonderful exercise that can be adapted for use by athletes of all ages, shapes, and sizes! If wrist pain is putting a halt to your pushup efforts, these tips can help get you back on the right track.
Remember to contact the Hand and Wrist Institute with any questions about your wrist pain or discomfort.