You realize just how much you need your limbs when a wrist/hand gets injured. The one time I sprained my wrist it was a challenge.
It happened while lifting weights. I wasn’t warmed up properly and I was a relative rookie when it came to Olympic style cleans. Needless to say – it was uncomfortable and it took 4 – 6 weeks to feel like myself again.
Here’s an approach I found useful.
1 – Move it. The simple act of mobilizing your wrist will help keep the tissues pliable and moving well. Instead of stopping everything altogether – after the first few days of an injury you should begin to move it.
You see the first few days after an injury like this is often critical in that the “scab” forms. This means rest, maybe ice at this point for pain control and keeping it elevated. (Think of it like a cut on the surface of your skin – let the scab form in the first few days before you get back to movement.)
When you decide to start to move again – put your wrist through a range of motion. Practice drawing out the alphabet in mid-air with the fingers straight.
Some of these movements may help too – (note: this would be the end goal for range of motion – if you’ve just injured yourself it would not be a good idea to flex and extend your wrist this far (pictured below)). But to keep your joints healthy and even as a good warm-up before you lift you can go through these ranges.
Notice one picture is in wrist extension and the other is in wrist flexion. When you’re in these positions focus on breathing. If you’re just rehabbing your wrist then you may move just 10-20% of what’s pictured above (start slow!). You may be in this position anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes (numbness/tingling means you are going too far).
2 – What you practice is what you get better at. Habits help form how tight/loose your tissues are. So if you practice great habits you’ll start to break up the problem habits.
What do bad habits look like:
- Performing a lot of gripping exercises (forearm flexors) and never training your forearm extensors.
- Training your extensors can be as easy as grabbing a water bottle at your desk and performing wrist extension exercises. Remember – higher reps 12 – 20 for this one.
- Using the computer a lot and never stretching.
Breaking up your sitting at a desk can play a role in the healing process too. Stand-up every 20-30 minutes.
- Expecting your wrists to function well even if you never look after them.
Your body will adapt and do what it knows. So, if you only use 60% of your range of motion then eventually you’ll begin to lose the end ranges of motion. Use the above movements proactively to help improve the wrist (before you get pain/symptoms).
3 – Your nervous system will always be a factor.
Getting stuck in the above position for hours per day will change your spinal health and the way your nerve system works. All the nerves from your neck actually travel down to your arm & wrist (hand). If your spine is shifted and there’s potentially pressure on the nerves that control how you function and heal then it will be a factor in your recovery / health. Finding out if you are potentially shifted would be a good first step to improving the way you recover and the mechanics of how you use your body.
I’ve used all 3 methods as a way to recover but also as a way to stay healthy and look after my body. If you are aiming to get back on track or just look after yourself consider the 3 tips above so that you can stay productive and active.