Prone swan with Pilates ring

Last week, we looked at the anatomy of the forearm and the wrist. This week, let’s take a look at how these structures serve to position the hand, and then learn a few simple exercises you can do at home with just a few simple props.

Movements of the Forearm and Wrist:

Pronation & supination of forearm

Wrist Flexion & Extension

 

Now, let’s take a look at some exercises to help you to stretch and strengthen your forearm and wrists. All of them can be completed at home with very simple props. Also, these are compound exercises that target many structures all at once, perfect for our busy lifestyles.

For all of the exercises below, do 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. If you do not experience some muscle fatigue by 12 repetitions, add a 3-5 second hold to the most intense part of the the muscle contraction.

Towel Wringing

Towel wringing for wrist and forearm strength

 

Stand or sit with tall posture and your elbows bent at your sides.

Grip the towel firmly with both hands and slowly twist the towel as if you are wringing water out of it.

This exercise works the muscles that strengthen supination, pronation, flexion and extension at the wrist, as well as grip strength

Pronation & supination with dumbbells

Supination strengthening copyPronation strengthening copy

Stand or sit with tall posture and your elbows bent at your sides

Resisted Supination: Slowly turn your forearm to face down, then slowly return to the start position (do 8-12 repetitions or until fatigue)

Pronation: Slowly turn your forearm to face up, then slowly return to the start position (do 8-12 repetitions or until fatigue)

When the dumbbells variation gets too easy, you can use a hammer instead of dumbbells. The long handle on the hammer will work the muscles more and help build control through the movement.

* It may appear counter-intuitive to strengthen the pronation motion with resisted supination and vice versa, but remember that we are working against the force of gravity on the dumbbell, and this targets the muscles in the lengthening phase of the contraction (known as the eccentric phase

Grip strengthening
Grip strength

Loosely grip a squishy ball, then squeeze the ball as tightly at you can without forearm, wrist or hand pain

Focus on using your forearm muscles to grip the ball

Repeat until your muscles start to fatigue

Quadruped forearm strengthener

Quadruped forearm strengthener

Start in quadruped position

Strongly press your palms into the floor like they are 2 feet pressing down on gas peddles (this should activate the underside of your forearms)

Then shift weight through neutral quadruped until your shoulders are over your wrists

Keep doing these movements until you feel some muscle work in your forearms

Forearm stretch

Forearm stretch

Versions A: Start in quadruped

Then shift weight through neutral quadruped until your shoulders are in front of your wrists

Hold this stretch for at least 30 second to release the underside of the forearms

The stretch should be at a low enough intensity that you feel your forearm muscles are relaxing into the stretch

Version B: Stand over a low stool/bench/coffee table with your hands under your shoulders and your fingers pointing back to your knees (wrists are in extreme supination)

Very gently, draw your torso back so that wrists go into extension and you feel a stretch across the forearms.

This variation can be very intense, so be gentle

Stay tuned for a future installment in which we will explore the structure and function of the hand, and learn some simple exercises that will keep that complex body structure working optimally.