Sore hands or wrists? Tendinitis? Weak grip? You can fix it with just 10-minutes of hand and wrist preparation…
The most neglected part of the body for most gym goers are the hands and wrists (and feet).
They’re not sexy, they don’t alter how you look, and you don’t get to lift big weights. So most people don’t bother training them in any capacity.
To be fair, most people have likely never thought about it, and nobody ever told them to.
Not looking after your hands and wrists is a mistake, and it will catch up with you at some point.
If you work on the computer, it’s going to be even worse. Heck, even if you don’t train, and you type a lot, you can get a repetitive strain injury, tendinitis, and chronic pain in the hands and wrists.
Building strength, mobility, injury-proofing the hands and wrists is actually pretty simple. You just need to spend 10 minutes doing a little hand and wrist preparation workout a couple of times per week.
Why do I need to do hand and wrist preparation?
There’s a full 27 bones in the hand and wrist. Each bone moving independently over the bones around it (joints). What happens when you fail to train joints, and the muscles/tendons/ligaments that support it?
Of course, they get stiff, weak, inflexible, and sore. The body is designed to move. A lack of movement is harmful for the body.
Go lay in bed for 3 weeks, and see how much your back hurts by the end of it.
The hands and wrists specifically tend to take a beating because we all work on computers. You’re excessively using some of the joints/muscles for typing, while rarely if ever using the other joints.
Likewise, gripping weights in the gym is one single movement, which tends to be ‘over-trained’ relative to all of the other movements possible at those joints.
If you don’t build strength, and mobility, in the hands and wrists, they will eventually catch up with you. Whether it’s tendinitis, tendinosis, a sprain, a broken bone, or just plain old weakness.
For me, I broke bones in my hand twice, and sprained my hand pretty badly another time, all within about 18 months. This was because I’d become too strong for my hands to support my training (Olympic lifting), and my hands and wrists lacked the mobility to safely absorb the loads I was throwing at them.
This kicked my ass into gear to figure out how to rehab them, and then make sure I built the strength and mobility to avoid injury in the future.
I recently took my friend Matt through this routine. He’d been suffering from De Quervain’s Tendinosis for years. Here’s what he said:
I’ve had De Quervain’s tendinosis in my wrists for over 5 years. After visiting fifteen different doctors and 6 different physical therapists, I’d given up hope for any kind of pain-free existence.
Phil listened to my problems and had me try a series of wrist-strengthening and mobility exercises. Within one single ten-minute session, I felt better than I had with any doctor or physical therapist’s exercise regime or drug prescriptions.
I’ve been performing Phil’s hand and wrist preparation recommendations for two weeks now and feel better than I’ve felt in years. I’d highly recommend working with Phil.
FYI: My opinion is that most doctors and physical therapists are not well versed in movement-based rehabilitation. If you’re seeking help for any kind of sporting/gym injury, I suggest finding a sports therapist, or doctor/physio who trains themselves.
In my experience, they understand not only the cause of the injury better, but also what you’re looking for in a solution. Being told to “stop exercising so much” is a pretty piss-poor prescription for the gym going population.
How do I do my hand & wrist preparation?
If you’re weightlifting, boxing, grappling, climbing, you are missing a trick by not training your hands and wrists. I don’t just mean doing wrist curls and extensions (though you can do those too), they’re just 2 movements of dozens possible.
You need balance across all of the joints, and all of the possible movements.
Watch the video below to see my 10-minute hand and wrist preparation routine.
Other hand and wrist preparation work
As mentioned at the end of the video, the hands and wrists respond well to lots of variety. You also want to include grip and wrist-centric exercises in your training routine, such as:
- Wrist curls and extensions
- Hammer curls
- Farmers walks
- Finger grippers
- Fat grip work (pull ups, deadlifts, farmers walk)
- Towel pull ups and rows
- Rope climbs, pull ups and rows
- Finger push ups
- Finger pull ups
- Sand bag lifts and carries
- Handstands and handstand walks
- Kettlebell work
These are giving plenty of variety and building strength in all of the joints around the hand and wrist. The small muscles and ligaments of the hands and wrists respond best to time under tension. Focus on longer duration sets of approximately 1 minute.