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Wristy Business

October 21, 2003 12:16 PM

by Jim Brown, Ph.D.

The wrist is slender, fragile, and complex, containing eight bones, two dozen ligaments, three major nerves, and a network of tendons and muscles. Because of its highly complex make-up the wrist, and its surrounding area, is high on the list of joints susceptible to injury.

Some of the potential injuries are tennis-related. Others go with the territory of living an active life style, doing a variety of exercises, and of aging. Here is a list of wrist and forearm injuries and the activities with which they are commonly associated.

AreaInjuriesActivities / Causes
lower forearmradius fracturebreaking a fall
bottom of thumbscaphoid fracturebreaking a fall
wrist crease (outside)hamate fracturetennis, golf
wrist crease (thumb side)    dislocationtennis, excessive bending; impact
base of wristtendinitistennis, golf, lifting weights
fingers, wristcarpal tunnel syndromerepetitive activity
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There are no absolute guarantees against sports-related wrist injuries, but there are three time-tested exercises recommended to reduce the probability.

In the wrist curl, straddle a bench and rest your forearms on the bench, palms up. Hold a barbell in both hands, which should be hanging off the end. Bend your wrists upward, then lower the weight to the starting position. This lift can also be conducted with one or two dumbbells, with the tops of the forearms supported by the thighs.

In the reverse wrist curl, the starting position is the same, but the palms are facing down. Again, the wrists are brought up toward your body, then slowly lowered to the starting position. If you are using dumbbells, this exercise can be completed using one arm at a time or both arms lifting simultaneously.

For the wrist roll, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Extend your arms and hold a bar that has a light weight (or a weight plate) suspended at the bottom of a 3-5 foot cord. Alternately rotate your hands so that the weight moves up toward the bar, then reverse the hand action to allow the weight to slowly return to the bottom position.

This kind of weight device is easily constructed at home. If you’re not the self-help type, there is a product out there called the Sports Buddy (www.sports.workout.com). It’s made exactly like the piece of equipment just described and costs less than $20. It has been described by one teaching professional as “affordable, portable, light-weight, and can be used both at the courts and at home. It is designed to increase strength in areas that are usually overlooked — fingers, wrists, hands, and forearms — and to reduce injury.” *

If you just sit there and wait for a wrist injury to occur, it will. Strengthen the area and you’ll reduce the odds of that happening by trying one, two, or all three of the exercises described above. Two or three repetitions of each, every other day, is all it takes.

* Dr. Jim Brown and the USTA Southern Section does not endorse nor do they have a financial interest in this or any other product discussed in the Sport Science columns.

© HMS Publishing, Inc.

Jim Brown will be contributing new content to this site on a monthly basis. If you have a question for Dr. Brown please feel free to email him at sportsmed@mindspring.com.




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