How to Strengthen Your Wrists

A step-by-step program with simple exercises

If you are looking to improve or maintain strength in your wrists, a good exercise program is necessary. Wrist exercises only require a few things:

  • Small weight (or a can of soup or water bottle)
  • Table for resting your forearm
  • Resistance band (as an alternative to weights)

Your wrists are complex joints with many bones, muscles, and nerves. The muscles that move your wrists and forearms extend from areas above your elbow. They travel down to your fingers.

Suppose you have suffered an injury and require physical therapy to help you return to your previous level of function. In that case, your physical therapist may prescribe wrist strengthening exercises to help you regain normal wrist and arm function.

Common conditions that may require you to perform wrist strengthening exercises include, but are not limited to:

Sports that involve throwing or overhead motions place athletes at risk for wrist injuries. Therefore, if you are an athlete in a sport like baseball, tennis, golf, or volleyball, then you may wish to incorporate wrist strengthening exercises in your injury prevention program.

This step-by-step guide offers simple exercises to perform at home.

Before starting this or any other exercise program, you should check in with your healthcare provider to ensure that it is safe for you to proceed. 

Wrist Extension With Dumbbell

Man holding dumbbell

Verywell / Brett Sears

  1. To start these wrist strengthening exercises, sit in a chair with your forearm resting on a table. Hang your wrist and hand over the edge of the table.
  2. Hold a 2- or 3-pound dumbbell in your hand. Then, with your palm facing down, slowly lift your hand, so the back of your hand moves towards the ceiling. Your forearm should remain on the table.
  3. Once your wrist is fully extended, hold the position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your hand down. Repeat this motion for 10 to 15 repetitions. Perform two to three sets.

Dumbbell Wrist Flexion

Wrist flexion with dumbbell

Verywell / Brett Sears

  1. After performing wrist extensions, continue resting your forearm on the table. Then, turn your hand over, so your palm is facing the ceiling.
  2. Hold the dumbbell and keep your forearm against the table. Then, flex your wrist up so that your palm moves towards the ceiling.
  3. Once your wrist is fully flexed, hold the position for two to three seconds. Then, slowly lower your hand back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat the wrist flexion exercise for two to three sets of 10-15 repetitions. Then move on to the next activity.

Wrist Supination With Dumbbell

Wrist supination with a dumbbell.

Verywell / Brett Sears

Wrist supination refers to the motion of turning your wrist over, so your palm is face-up. The main muscles that help to turn your wrist over are the biceps muscle in your upper arm and smaller muscles in the forearm.

  1. To perform this exercise, sit in a chair with your forearm resting on a table. Make sure your wrist and hand are over the edge of the table.
  2. Hold the end of a small 1- to 3-pound dumbbell in your hand, like you would hold a hammer.
  3. Slowly allow your hand and wrist to rotate over so your palm is face up towards the ceiling.
  4. Hold the end position for a few seconds, then slowly rotate your hand back up, so the dumbbell is straight up once again.
  5. You can then allow your hand and wrist to slowly rotate over, so your palm is facing down (a position called pronation). Hold this position for a second or two. Then, slowly rotate your hand back up, so the weight is pointing to the ceiling.
  6. Repeat this exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions. Do two to three sets..

You can combine the supination exercise with the pronation exercise explained in the next step.

Wrist Pronation With Dumbbell

Man holding small dumbbell

Verywell / Brett Sears

Wrist pronation refers to the position of your hand facing down as if you were pouring a pitcher of water.

  1. To strengthen your wrist pronators, sit in a chair with your forearm supported on a table and your wrist and hand over the edge.
  2. Hold one end of a dumbbell with the weight pointing up towards the ceiling.
  3. Slowly rotate your hand, so your wrist and palm are facing down towards the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly turn your hand back to the starting position with the weight pointing up towards the ceiling.
  4. Slowly allow your wrist to rotate, so your palm is facing up.
  5. Once your palm is facing up, hold the end position for a few seconds, then slowly return your wrist to the starting position.
  6. Perform two to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

You can combine the pronation exercise with the supination exercise in the previous step.

Summary

After an injury to your wrist, elbow, or shoulder, you may benefit from physical therapy to improve your arm's range of motion and strength. Wrist strengthening exercises may be a part of that physical therapy program.

Suppose you are an athlete who performs a lot of overhead throwing or swinging. In that case, your physical therapist can also help you develop a strengthening program to help you prevent injury while participating in your sport.

A Word From Verywell

Wrist strengthening exercises may be an essential component of your rehab after an injury. By working hard in physical therapy with your wrist strengthening exercises, you can be sure to quickly and safely return to your previous level of function.

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