Food for thought on Shoulder and Wrist Mobility— We’ve been getting some comments about wrist pain from the increased volume of HS work, especially from those of you following both Connectivity and The Way. I consulted with my favorite doctor who specializes in treating both gymnasts and exercisers.
Wrist Mobility in CrossFit Gymnastic Movements
When performing gymnastics skills, the wrist is often subjected to both compression, and extension forces, occasionally resulting in injury. Thoracic spine, shoulder, elbow and wrist mobility, should all be considered priority, in order to successfully decrease stress and pain in the wrist. The reason being that, unless you suffer from a FOOSH injury, you are probably feeling the effects of the cumulative trauma that results from poor flexibility, throughout the upper body.
About the Wrist
The wrist consists of the interaction between your distal radius and ulna, and eight tiny carpal bones. Your wrist has the ability to flex, extend, and deviate to your radius, and your ulna. The muscles of the wrist are unique because the majority of them don’t even attach to the wrist. Instead, they attach around the elbow to form your common extensor and flexor tendons. This is exactly why you can not just focus on the wrist when mobilizing for gymnastics skills. The three main injuries involving the wrist include: medial and lateral epicondylitis, as well as de Quervain syndrome, with only the last condition mainly being felt in the wrist.
The Best Way to Mobilize for Wrist Pain
Honestly, the best way to mobilize for wrist pain is to mobilize your t-spine, and shoulders. Clinically, I find that the majority of wrist injuries in Crossfit are the result of compensation for poor mobility elsewhere. If you can not extend enough at your spine or shoulders, or if your elbows are too tight, and keep bending, your wrist will have to hyperextend to finish the movement. The following are my favorite mobility exercises, in the order that they should be performed. Spend 15 minutes a day on steps one and two, and get comfortable with being a little uncomfortable. Focus on areas that feel like they need it most, but do not cherry pick.
1. Smash: T-Spine, lats, biceps, and forearms. You can do this with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, and any object that you are willing to safely dig in to.
2. Stretch: Pecs, lats, forearms. You can do this with a band, a door or a partner. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
3. Progressions: Follow outlaw connectivity to know the proper progressions for each movement.
A complete list of exercises with pictures can be found on my website. Please feel free to contact me with any questions through the website.
Dr John Giacalone Jr