Although experts from a wide variety of professional health organizations agree that regular exercise is essential for maintaining overall health, injuries sometimes occur. As a result, taking appropriate precautions is not only wise, it's sometimes necessary. Protecting a delicate joint such as the wrist from damage often means modifying certain moves and wearing protective gear. But before you begin exercise, consult a physician -- especially if you have a history of wrist problems.
Checking Your Form
If you sense wrist pain while working out, you may be able to fix your problem by correcting your form. For example, exercises such as the bench press or biceps curl may cause wrist pain when performed incorrectly. Nevertheless, wearing a wrist support -- such as medical tape, a band or a custom-made model that wraps around the wrist and the thumb -- may help. Exercises such as pushups and the plank require supporting body weight using the hands and wrists, and may cause pain even when performed properly. The point is, even if you're using proper form, support may be necessary -- and the support will keep your wrist properly aligned during exercise, which should reduce pain. If you have verified your form and still feel pain, consult a physician for advice.
Modifying a Floor-Based Move
You can quickly modify a floor-based move such as the pushup or plank for reduced wrist pain. If you are on all fours and facing the floor, try using two flat-edged dumbbells instead of placing your palms flat on the floor. Place the dumbbells flat-side down on the ground underneath your shoulders. Grasp the dumbbells; your palms should face each other. Support your weight with straight arms -- do not roll your wrists forward or backward. Let go immediately if you feel pain.
Rolling the Wrists
Rolling the wrists during exercises such as biceps curls and shoulder presses can cause pain and injury over time. Although learning and using proper form during exercise should keep injury at bay, you may notice discomfort if you are using a too-heavy weight and your wrists roll forward or backward involuntarily. If this occurs, lessen the weight or resistance immediately. According to hand surgeon Dr. Alexander Haselkorn, maintaining a neutral wrist position lowers the likelihood of sustaining a wrist injury. If you can't maintain a neutral wrist during exercise, lower your resistance or choose another move.
Other moves, such as the triceps dip or yoga's Table pose, may be impossible without the use of a wrist support. If you are certain that you are performing a move correctly but you can't do it without pain -- even when wearing a support or using flat-edged dumbbells -- abandon it and consult a physician. Also, remember there are a wide variety of strength exercises for every muscle group. Although you may feel disappointed, this feeling will be short-lived compared to the agony and aggravation of recovering from a serious wrist injury.
Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.