Wrist Range of Motion Exercises

When you undergo a procedure to heal the wrist or if you suffer pain from conditions affecting the bones and joints, using wrist range of motion exercises can help you gently gain flexibility and movement and reduce or eliminate pain caused by stiffness and swelling. We’ve compiled a series of simple exercises you can use in the comfort of your home to assist in the healing process. 

Wrist Range of Motion Exercises

Image via Flickr by topgold

Range of motion exercises can heal and strengthen the wrist through gentle movements that help reduce inflammation and pain caused by various injuries. MedlinePlus, which is an online resource for patients with health information, lists the following conditions as some causes of wrist discomfort:

Read below to explore wrist range of motion exercises for relief from pain and swelling that you can practice on your own. If you feel pain, stop the exercises and contact a medical professional at The Hand and Wrist Institute

Radial and Ulnar Deviation

To start this exercise, raise your affected wrist out in front of you with your palm facing down. Next, move your wrist slowly to the right, holding the stretch for about six seconds, then move your wrist to the left, holding the stretch for about six seconds. Repeat this process eight to 12 times.

Intrinsic Flexion

For this exercise, begin by propping your affected wrist on a table, bending your fingers at the large joints where your fingers meet your hands. Make sure not to move your thumb or the other joints, keeping your fingers straight as you bend them. Keeping your wrist relaxed, straighten your fingers slowly until they point straight out. Repeat this process eight to 12 times.

Wrist Extension and Flexion

Sit at a table and extend your forearm so the hand and wrist of your affected arm extend beyond the edge of the table. Move your hand up by bending your wrist while closing your fingers into a fist. Hold this position for six seconds, then release your fingers and bend your wrist back down. Hold for another six seconds. For best results, repeat this process eight to 12 times.

Wrist Extensor Stretch

Hold your affected wrist and arm out in front of you with your wrist bent and fingers pointed towards the floor. Use your other hand to gently bend your wrist down until you can feel your forearm stretching, holding this stretch from 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat this exercise up to four times.

Advanced Wrist Extensor Stretch

Once you can easily complete the wrist extensor stretch above, hold out your affected arm, making a fist. Next, bend your wrist so your fist points down, holding your position for a few seconds. Repeat this exercise up to four times.

Hand Flip

Sit down and place your affected wrist and forearm palm down on your thigh just above your knee. Alternate flipping your palm placing it face down as your forearm continues to rest on your thigh. Repeat this process eight to 12 times. 

Table Assist Hand Flip

For this exercise, place your affected hand on the edge of a table, then gently rotate it toward your little finger. Gently rotate back to your starting position, then rotate your hand toward your thumb. Finally, gently rotate your hand back to starting position. Repeat this exercise several times. 

Wrist Flexor Stretch

To do this stretch, hold out your affected wrist with your arm extended and palm facing down. Use your other hand to gently flex your wrist backward, stopping when you feel your forearm stretch. Maintain this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat this exercise up to four times. Next, perform the previous steps with your palm facing up, using your other hand to gently stretch your wrist down. Repeat this up to four times, too.

Fist Exercise

First, hold up your affected hand and close your fingers into a fist, then open your palm and slowly stretch your fingers out as you extend them. Slowly close your fingers back into a fist, and repeat a few times.

Palm Press

While standing, press your palms together with your elbows wide away from your body. Slowly raise your hands and continue to press your palms together, bringing your forearms and elbows together. Once your elbows meet, reverse and slowly lower your arms and pressed palms back down to your starting position. Hold your palms together for a gentle stretch for a few seconds once you reach your starting position, then release. Repeat this exercise a few times.

Metacarpophalangeal Extension

Take your unaffected hand and place it palm up on a table, then wrap the fingers of your affected hand around your other thumb to make a fist. Move your fingers slowly away from your good thumb, keeping the top two joints bent to make a hook, and hold the hook position for a few seconds. As you release, wrap your fingers around your unaffected thumb once again. Repeat the exercise eight to 12 times. 

Table Assist Wrist Stretch

Stand at the edge of a table and place your hands down with your fingers pointing away from you. Lean forward gently with your body weight, keeping your elbows straight until you feel a slight stretch in your wrists. Next, turn your hands so your fingers point towards you, then bend slowly away from the table to stretch your wrists in the opposite direction. Repeat this motion several times.

Hand Over Hand Table Assist Stretch

Place your affected hand flat on a table, then lay your other hand over your affected hand. Gently apply pressure to hold your affected hand down while bending your wrist until you feel a stretch. Repeat the exercise several times. 

Get in Touch With the Hand and Wrist Institute!

If you suffer from severe wrist pain, range of motion exercises may not be enough to eliminate your discomfort. At the Hand and Wrist Institute, we offer specialized care for wrist injuries. Contact us online or give us a call to set up an appointment. We can address any wrist problems and get you on the road to healing. 

Dr. John Knight
Dr. John Knight

Dr. Knight is a renowned hand, wrist and upper extremity surgeon with over 25 years of experience. Dr. Knight is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Fellowship trained. Dr Knight has appeared on CNN, The Doctors TV, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Oxygen network and more.