Fix Golf Wrist Pain With These 4 Simple ExercisesJan 24, 2024
Suffering from golfer’s wrist (wrist pain from golf) can be one of the most frustrating things to experience both on and off the course. It can happen in an instant or develop slowly over time. With the wrist being such a complex (set of) joint(s), what causes this debilitating condition? This article will teach you why it happens, how to fix it, and how to prevent it from happening.
Golfer’s Wrist Anatomy
Forming the junction between our forearm and hand, the wrist’s anatomy is a remarkably intricate web of carefully placed bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles. We often refer to it as the wrist joint, but it is actually a composite of multiple joints that work together to perform a wide range of precise and coordinated movements.
Eight bones, known as carpal bones, are arranged in two rows to form the wrist. As we can see from the picture below, the number of ligaments holding those bones together is truly staggering. Evolution of the human wrist is closely tied to our transition to an upright posture. It has adapted to support various hand functions, including tool use and manipulation (and golf, obviously).
Muscles in the forearm are particularly important when it comes to understanding why wrist pain can happen because of golfing. Another common condition, golfer’s elbow, is intimately linked to golf wrist pain, because the forearm muscles cross both joints; elbow and wrist. Common tendon sites and intense activity in these muscles are some of the main culprits in this equation.
Bones of the forearm, wrist and hand. Ligaments of the wrist are also shown. (Credit: Adobe Stock)
What Causes Golf Wrist Pain?
Depending on whether you are right or left-handed (most golfers are right-handed) determines which hand is considered dominant. A right-handed golfer’s dominant hand is their right hand, and vice versa. While performing the backswing, the dominant side’s shoulder, arm and wrist move away from the ball and undergo (depending on technique) significant stretch.
This repeated stretching can be one of the first reasons why the structures in and around the wrist get hurt. Many people have tight forearms, wrists and hands. These structures work incredibly hard for us, and they can become stiff without a regular stretching routine. Golfing forces them to stretch in unorthodox ways that can lead to irritation, pain, and injury.
That’s the backswing, let’s move onto the downswing. Studies show that a flexor burst occurs in the forearm muscles during a golfer’s downswing, right through to impact with the ball. This intense muscle activity is another reason that the wrist area can become inflamed, overworked, or even the subject of a trauma like tendonitis or muscle tearing.
Risk of sustaining a wrist injury increases during the moment of impact, especially if you happen to hit the ground (a “fat shot”). All the energy meant to transfer into the ball is shunted instead into the wrist, forearm and elbow, reversing the shortening action of the muscles and forcing them into a stretch. Forced stretching, especially suddenly, is one of the best ways to get hurt!
(Credit: Adobe Stock)
Preventing & Fixing Golf Wrist Pain
In order to account for the demands placed on the wrist while golfing, including such undesirable, though still likely, scenarios such as hitting the ground, we must train the area to be strong and flexible at the same time. This involves challenging the wrist in various ways through exercises that load and stretch it at different angles.
Below we’ve included two strength training exercises and two stretches that help prepare the wrist for the rigors of golf. Including them in your training regimen can help heal any problems you currently have, and further mitigate the chances that wrist pain from golf will happen in the future.
These movements are borrowed from the extensive programming we have available here at Dynamic Golfers, the world’s leading strength and mobility system designed for golfers at all skill levels and abilities. Get in the best shape of your life and golf pain-free by signing up for a 7-day free trial with us today! Click here.
Push Up Slide
- Start in a push up position (whether on your toes or knees) with a cloth or slider underneath one hand
- Slide the hand with the cloth out to a 45° angle
- Do a staggered push up from this position
- Slide the hand back under its shoulder
- Repeat for 10 reps on one side
- Switch hands and repeat
- Hold two dumbbells in front of your with your elbows at 90°
- Allow the dumbbells to stretch and extend your wrists by lowering them below the forearms
- Once you get as far down as you can, curl them up towards your biceps
- Your arm should stay in the same position the whole time, only the wrists and hands should move
- Repeat this for 10-20 reps or 30-45 seconds
Wrist Circles - Stretch
- In a seated or standing position, make an accentuated and slow circle with one hand; clockwise or counterclockwise
- End with your fingers pointing up and your palm facing away from you; stretch the hand towards you in this position (picture 3)
- Then, make another circle with the same hand, but this time in the opposite direction
- Try to stretch through and feel every position the wrist goes through
- Again end with the fingers up and palm facing away; do another small stretch of the hand
- Continue this on one hand for 30-45 seconds
- Switch hands and repeat
Wrist Flexion & Extension Stretch
- In a seated or standing position, hold one arm out in front of you
- Position the outstretched palm face down
- Using the other hand, pull the outstretched fingers/hand down and in towards the forearm (picture 1)
- This stretches the wrist into flexion
- Hold for 30-45 seconds
- Release the stretched hand, then position it palm up
- Pull the fingers/hand down again, this time stretching the wrist into extension
- Hold for 30-45 seconds
- Repeat both sequences on the other side
Written by Eric Lister – Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist