Exercise to Strengthen the Wrists for Gymnasts
The wrist is one of the most commonly injured joints for gymnasts. Gymnastics skills and routines require quick, jerky movements of the wrists and hands, and wrists are subjected to a great deal of force and pressure that can exceed over twice a gymnast's body weight. Supporting body weight for handstands or back handsprings places an even greater risk of injury on particularly weak wrists. While overtraining injuries, sprains and strains are the most common wrist injuries among gymnasts, fractures and dislocations also occur. Including a wrist strengthening program into a gymnast's training program is critical.
The wrist extension exercise targets the extensor muscles and tendons in the forearm and wrist. Use a light dumbbell, or resistance band, and place your hand over the edge of a bench with your palm facing down. Lower the hand down toward the floor, then extend the hand upward and feel the extensor muscles in your forearm working. Lower the hand again and repeat this movement for 15 to 20 repetitions. Perform the exercise on both sides. This exercise does not require a heavy weight to be effective.
The wrist flexion, or wrist curl, exercise targets the flexor muscles in the forearm. Using a light dumbbell, or resistance band, place your hand over the edge of a bench, palm facing upward. Drop your hand down toward the floor then curl the wrist upward pulling the weight, or resistance band, towards the forearm. Lower the hand again and repeat this movement for 15 to 20 repetitions. Perform the exercise on both sides.
Wrist Radial Deviation
The wrist radial deviation exercise targets the extensor carpi radialis and flexor carpi radialis muscles of the forearm. Using a light dumbbell or resistance band, place your hand over your knee, or a bench, with the thumb pointing upward. Lower the hand down, dropping your little finger toward the floor, then curl the wrist upward pulling your thumb towards the forearm. Lower the hand again and repeat this movement for 15 to 20 repetitions. Perform the exercise on both sides.
Finger pushups are an advanced wrist strengthening exercise. Gymnasts should have a solid foundation of wrist strength before attempting this exercise. Begin in a pushup position with the fingers pointing directly forward. Lower into a regular pushup; as you push away from the floor push up onto the finger tips as your straighten your elbows. Hold this position, keeping the wrists locked for two to three seconds, then lower back to the flat handed pushup position. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions. This exercise can also be done on the knees for younger gymnasts and for those gymnasts who are lacking sufficient strength.
Kristy Lee Wilson is a former Cirque du Soleil performer, Sharecare fitness expert, bestselling author, international speaker, certified personal trainer and youth fitness specialist. An elite athlete from a very young age, Wilson's ultimate mission is to motivate, inspire and educate as many people as possible to live life to their fullest potential.