Let’s go straight to the point – What does the wrist do in Pushups? It extends.
And how often do you see wrist extension in your daily life? Not as much as wrist flexion – think using phone, typing, driving or writing. Therefore, the lack of wrist extension can create pain in your wrist during pushups.
Not only that, but the lack of wrist extension can also create compensation in your elbows, shoulders and neck during a pushup, resulting in pain in those seemingly remote areas.
The radiocarpal joint (the primary joint that promotes flexing and extending your wrist) permits about 70 degrees of extension for daily use. To do planks, pushups or handstands, the degree of wrist extension would be between 80 to 95+. If a person does not have such range and continue to force the joint past its limitations, pain will start to occur. It may also cause the radiocarpal joint to “impinge” on other joints or bones, creating sharp pain.
Mobility before Strengthening
So, before we hop on to strengthening, let’s keep it supple with following Stretches (Passive & Active).
Wrist Flexor Myofascial Release
One common action that we do with our hands is gripping. That causes our wrist flexor to be tight, especially you do sports that involve a high amount of gripping.
Wrist extensors are on the opposite side of Wrist flexors – so if one side (wrist flexion) is tight, it will limit the amount of opposite motion (wrist extension).
This release can be done before the activities that require a bigger range of wrist extension, namely handstands and push up.
Wrist Extensor Myofascial Release
If you have been working on wrist extension frequently, wrist extensor release will be useful in preventing soreness and overwork. Just like a nice massage after a long day.
Wrist Flexor Passive Stretch
The radiocarpal joint (the primary joint that promotes flexing and extending your wrist) permits about 70 degrees of extension for daily use. Now, if your wrist extension does not have 70 degrees in the first place, put more focus on Forearm release and stretch.
Wrist Extensor Passive Stretch
Just because the Wrist Flexor is tighter, doesn’t mean Wrist extensor is not. So, let’s give it some love too!
Wrist Extension Active Stretch (360 deg)
This Active stretch puts pressure on the wrist extension in all directions which promotes strengthening as well.
I learnt this in my Parkour classes, which is very important to protect our wrists especially when they land in an awkward position during falling – which is exactly the same circumstances when we have accidental falls.