A guide to wrist and hand care.
Your hands and wrists are probably the most used parts of your body.
Just think how many times you use your hands when waking up in the morning, you switch off your alarm, you have a shower, brush your teeth, get dressed all before starting your day.
Then add on the rest of our daily activities, eating, typing, driving, playing sports, and then there’s our obsession with our mobile phones.
The hands and wrist joints are made up of many bones, tendons, and ligaments that allow us to perform the most intricate of movements, and have one of the largest amounts of nerve endings in the body which allows us to feel and perform every single one of those simple to complex actions.
We need these joints to work smoothly and pain-free to do everyday actions from writing to sports that require extreme finger strengthening like rock climbing.
Injuries to hands and wrists normally come through some form of physical strain/effort, whether that be through a manual job, picking something up, or exercise.
But other times this could be a build-up of tension over time, through performing the same repetitive tasks, causing shortening of the muscle ie sitting at a desk. Due to the wrists being in a constant shortened range of flexion, where the palm is close(r) to the forearm, this can create RSI (repetitive strain injuries) like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Here is a list of common wrist and hand injuries:
- thumb sprains
- wrist sprains
- hand fractures
- wrist fractures
- dislocations of the PIP joint
- dequervain’s syndrome
- ecu tendinitis
- baseball finger
- jersey finger
- boutonniere deformity
As you can see, there are a lot of possible injuries that can occur to your hands. This is due to its structure.
The Anatomy of the hand and wrist
The bones above the knuckles are known as the phalanges (14 bones).
The bones of the hand are known as the metacarpals (5 bones).
The bones that join the hand to arm (radius and ulna) are known as the carpals (8 bones).
Ligaments are what join bone to bone, with tendons attached to bone and muscle which allow us to produce movement.
There are quite a few ligaments that are used in the wrist and hand to maintain function, due to the number of bones, with these ligaments being prone to trauma with any excessive strain or load put through over time.
So making sure the wrist is functioning correctly, should allow for minimal chance of injuries occurring.
The wrist is an ellipsoidal (condyloid) type synovial joint, allowing for movement along two axes. This means that flexion, extension, radial deviation, ulnar deviation, adduction, and abduction can all occur at the wrist joint.
All the movements of the wrist are performed by the muscles of the forearm.
Now that we know what the wrist joint and hand are made of, plus common injuries, what can or should we do to prevent injury in the future.
First of all, is making sure we have an adequate range of movement in the joint. We should be able to take the wrist joint to a 90° angle in both flexion and extension without any force going through them.
If we can’t, then adding an additional load, ie. bodyweight exercises like press-ups is not a wise choice to make and will more than certainly cause a joint or ligament issue.
Here are a couple of videos featuring some stretching and massage exercises that we can do to release these areas:
Now after increasing the mobility of the wrist joint, we want to create some form of stability/strengthening to this area, due to the intricacy of the joints, plus how much it does on a day to day basis.
The following exercises are great for anyone with RSI issues (repetitive strain injuries) like tennis or golfers elbow:
These exercises cover all the basic movements of the wrist and will allow you to perform further exercises without any issues.
Other strength issues to consider in the wrist and hand are things like finger and pinch grip strengthening.
These actions and muscles tend to be used more in sports like rock climbing, as rock climbers need extremely strong finger strength in a pinching action.
Here are some exercises that can be done to strengthen these muscle groups, if rock climbing is your kind of:
As you can see these exercises are a bit more advanced, but possibly something to try if you want to advance your finger strength.
The important part to remember when it comes to wrist and hand care is to take your time and keep it within your capabilities. Keep it within a pain-free, and doable range of motion. Plus steadily challenge the mobility and strength of the joints and muscles over time.
Thank you for taking the time to read. Any questions or comments, please leave below.