Wrist Stretches

| July 24, 2013 | Reply

Wrist stretches are a very useful “tool” for increasing flexibility of the muscles which cross the wrist and thus restoring its unobstructed movement. Particularly in the contemporary working reality, which forces a constantly increasing number of people spend a massive amount of time sitting in front of a computer, causing repetitive strains – mainly carpal tunnel syndrome (a neuropathy which describes the pressured median nerve) , and also De Quervain Syndrome or another tendonitis –, the necessity of wrist stretches becomes greater.

wrist area anatomy

Wrist Area Anatomy – The muscles and tendons of wrist

The Area

Although comparatively small, the wrist area is actually comprised of a significant number of tendons that surround the wrist joint, which in turn is a complicated joint that connects the hand with the forearm. Aided by a multitude of small and bigger muscles and bones, the wrist enables allows for an almost unlimited potential of mobility (flexing, extending, twisting etc.), claiming a maximum level of usefulness for every individual and subsequently posing severe obstacles in performing essential daily moves, in case of malfunction.

Wrist Stretching Exercises

Wrist stretches, like every other stretch, are based on the general stretching principle! Let’s start with a few widely used active/static wrist stretches, starting from the basic ones! Don’t forget to check our stretching guide before trying any of them!

  • Wrist extension:  lay your arm (either on its external or internal side) on a table or a bench, leaving only the wrist and the fingers swinging over the edge; now, gently move your wrist up until you feel a mild stretch, and hold it
  • Wrist flexion: begin by positioning your arm as above, but this time move your wrist downwards until you sense the stretch
  • Wrist side bend: place your arm on a table or bench with your wrist and fingers over the edge, but now bend your wrist to one side until you get that stretch; then, repeat by bending the wrist to the other side (photo 1)

There are also more passive ways to perform your stretches, which can provide an extra push. For example:

  • Stand in an upright position, or even assume a sitting position, without the support of a table or a bench; keeping your elbow straight and with your palm facing the floor, flex your wrist down while delicately pushing it with the other hand until you feel the stretch, and hold it there; repeat with your other hand (photo 2).
  • Similarly, extend your wrist by moving it up while helping that motion with the other hand until you get to the mild stretch; perform the exercise with the other hand (photo 3).
  • A more complicated wrist stretch is the wrist rotation stretch; to perform it, stand up or sit on a chair placing your hands just in front of you; bend your elbows at a right angle and make sure your palms face up; now hold the back of your right hand using your left hand placing your fingers on the outside of your thumb while your left thumb is positioned between the knuckles of your fingers; push with your left thumb until your forearm is starting to rotate outward; stop it there and hold the stretch; repeat with the other hand.

As a conventional rule, perform those stretches, or some of them, on a daily basis, holding them for 10-20 seconds and repeating 3-5 times. Utilizing dynamic versions of the previously described stretches would also help!

There are also other, more engaging exercises, which require constant motion (dynamic ones); for instance, you can carry out wrist circles: sitting on a chair and placing your arms on the armrests, close your fists without clenching them too much; now, rotate your wrists outwards, and then inwards, repeating for several times; these motions should deliver a mild stretch in the wrists. Besides the famous De Quervain Stretch (that is ideal for alleviating De Quervain syndrome symptoms) can be performed passively or actively (photo 4).


Small movements of your wrists can deliver big benefits! Here are some of them:

  • Lengthening of your muscles and connective tissue
  • Accelerated blood flow into the area (which in turn provides an increased amount of nutrients to the muscles)
  • Less irritation and inflammation of the tendons around the wrist joint
  • Reduced chances of being affected by the carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Significant alleviation from pain

What To Consider

Roughly speaking, executing wrist stretches is easier and requires less strenuous movements compared to other exercises (for instance, legs or back stretches); nevertheless, that does not mean that you can perform them carelessly, exactly because the muscles and the joints of this area can be very tender.  Besides, you should always remember our general guide on stretching. So:

  • Carry out your exercises carefully, slowly and in a controlled manner
  • Remember to keep the upper parts of your arms relaxed
  • Discuss the suitability of the stretches with a medical care professional before attempting to perform them, even if they seem pretty simple to you (specifically if you have been injured in the past, which can call for another kind of treatment, i.e wearing a wrist brace)

Photos & Videos

We present the following photos as well as a video in order to get more familiar with wrist stretching:

Wrist side bend

Photo 1 – ActiveWrist side bend

wrist flexion

Photo 2 – Passive Wrist flexion

wrist extension

Photo 3 – Passive Wrist extension

de quervain stretch

Photo 4 – De Quervain Stretch

Our Opinion

As it becomes obvious from the above mentioned, keeping your wrists in good condition with a wrist stretching routine can be a relatively easy task, provided you do it with the needed amount of caution and devotion; after all, it is far more preferable to invest some minutes of your time to do stretching than eventually resorting to painkillers or just keeping your hands immobilized!



Category: Stretching specific Body Areas

Leave a Reply