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Unlock Your Wrists : The Weak Link In Your Pressing Motions

Unlock Your Wrists - The weakest link in your Press

Ever think about how the strength from the big muscle groups in your body gets transmitted into the world to accomplish a task? Your feet in contact with the floor, your ankles, knees, and hips bending just so in order to balance a weight and move it. Your hands gripping securely, wrists, elbows, and shoulders lined up in just the right angles to get something where you want it to go even if it resists. If you have a weak link in either of those chains, then the whole task is less effective. Today we’re talking about wrists, specifically. 

Wrists are a small but extremely pivotal link in the chain from your shoulder to your hands. These little guys are responsible for a lot of shock absorption and helping to position and balance everything where it needs to be for you to do almost anything with your upper body. Your wrist is actually a complex joint made up of eight small bones (called your carpals), connecting the two bones in your forearm to the five bones of your hand. All told, that means 15 different bones are involved in each wrist to some extent. 

There are also a few major landmarks that are extremely important in the wrist that can hamper your daily life, much less your athletic performance, if anything goes wrong. The wrist is home to a large cartilage shock absorber (called the triangular fibrocartilage complex, or TFC) as well as all the nerves, blood supply, and most of the muscles of the hand. 


How do you keep them happy and healthy? You do that with strength, flexibility, and good technique. 



Hand, arm, and grip strength are big factors in how well your wrist can handle shock, impact, and load. Farmer’s carries, hanging from a bar for time, and deadlifting (or other pulling exercises) WITHOUT supportive devices like straps are all great ways to build up the strength in your hands. 



Keeping the range of motion in the wrists full and supple will decrease the likelihood of injury and discomfort. Below are a few examples of how to do that.


Good Technique 

For bench press and overhead lifts, where you place the grip in your palm makes a big difference in the load on your wrist. You want to place the grip tightly in towards the web of the palm, so that when you go to press it should look like a punch being thrown. Another easy metric is you should not be able to see the full flat of the back of the hand when you look at it. This positioning allows the bones in the wrist to stack more and transmit force directly into the arm, without extra strain on the wrist joints themselves. 

Still have issues or pain with your wrists even after trying some of this? Leave a comment or get in touch with us and I can help.

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Dr. Paul Harris holds a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Texas Chiropractic College and a Master’s of Exercise and Health Sciences from University of Houston Clear Lake. He is the owner of Delta V Chiropractic and Sports Medicine and an avid human movement specialist.