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If action movies have taught us anything, it’s that most of us will spend a few moments hanging off the precipice of a building at some point in our lives. In order to survive, you’ll need strong wrists.

Even if you don’t spend any time hanging on for dear life and quipping with villains, strong wrists can help make daily tasks easier. Whether you’re typing, carrying groceries, doing pull-ups, or opening that impossible jar, wrist strength and flexibility are key.

With these stretches and exercises, you’ll keep your wrists strong and avoid injury.

Put a pause on leg day — wrist day is where it’s at. To strengthen your wrists, you actually need to strengthen your forearms and increase mobility in your wrist joints. Wrist movement involves 35 muscles!

Your wrist connects your forearm to your hand — that joint needs to stay loose so you can still type 100 words per minute. And all those forearm muscles need to stay strong so you can grip those Costco groceries like a pro.

Especially if you sit at a computer all day, your wrists and forearms can develop repetitive motion injuries or ailments like carpal tunnel syndrome. By giving your wrists a little love and exercise, you may be able to avoid these aches. Even if you have a more trying injury like tennis elbow, simple at-home exercises can relieve pain.

Unless you’re Popeye the sailor man, you likely don’t spend a lot of time on bulking up your forearms. With all these exercises, start with no weights or very light weights so you don’t overstress these relatively small muscles.

Warmup

As with any other form of exercise, you want to warm up a bit before diving in to wrist exercises.

If you have any pain or stiffness in your wrists, place a warm towel or heating pad on the area for about 15 minutes. It’s a very literal warmup, but it’ll help increase blood flow and flexibility to the area before you start your exercises.

If you aren’t feeling stiffness or pain, simply walk around for a minute or two. This easy cardio gets your blood flowing and lets your wrists and forearms move naturally. You don’t need a complicated warmup for wrist exercises, but it’s best to do a bit of activity so you aren’t accidentally working, stretching, and possibly injuring cold muscles.

Note: If you ever feel pain with any of these exercises, stop! Listen to your body and never push to a point of discomfort.

Palms to the sky/Palms to the floor

This gentle exercise gives a tiny stretch to your wrists while building strength.

  1. While sitting or standing, hold your arms out in a T position.
  2. Rotate hands so palms are facing up.
  3. Rotate hands so palms are facing down.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

Try to keep your shoulders and neck relaxed. The movement should be just in your wrists, not your arms, elbows, or shoulders.

Fist to jazz hand

This is another gentle exercise that focuses on hand flexibility and strength.

  1. Rest one arm on a table, like you’re about to arm-wrestle someone.
  2. Make a fist.
  3. Slowly open the fist and stretch your fingers out as wide as they can comfortably go (do a jazz hand).
  4. Repeat 10 times, then switch arms. Singing “All That Jazz” is optional.

Rotation

You can do this with no weights, light resistance bands, or 1–5 pound dumbbells. Start with no weights and add weight only if you feel no pain.

  1. Sit with your arms bent to 90 degrees and forearms out in front of you with palms facing down.
  2. Hold a light resistance band or dumbbells, or go weight-free and pretend you’re holding something.
  3. Slowly rotate your hands so your palms are facing up.
  4. Slowly rotate your palms back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat 10 times.

Wrist curl

You can do this exercise with a resistance band, a dumbbell, or just bodily resistance. If you’re using a light resistance band, hold one end of the band down with the bottom of your foot and grab the other end with your working hand. For dumbbells, stick with 1–5 pounds, depending on your level.

  1. Sit and hold your arm at 90 degrees, with palm facing up. Arm can rest on your leg, a bench, or a table.
  2. Curl your wrist up, like it’s doing a baby biceps curl.
  3. Return wrist to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.

Be sure to move only your wrist. This isn’t a biceps curl, it’s a wrist curl, so keep your arm and shoulder still while your wrist does all the work.

Pronated wrist curl

These are pretty much upside-down wrist curls. You can use a dumbbell, a band, or nothing at all!

  1. Sit and hold your arm at 90 degrees, with palm facing down.
  2. Curl your wrist up.
  3. Return wrist to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.

As with the previous move, make sure the movement is only in your wrist. You may want to position your arm so your wrist can hang off your leg or a bench. If your wrist starts by hanging down about 90 degrees, you’ll get a better range of motion for the exercise.

Squeezie

You can squeeze just about anything in this one. Try a tennis ball, hand grip exerciser, or towel.

  1. While standing or sitting, hold your ball (or squeezable thing of choice) with your palm facing up.
  2. Squeeze your squeezy thing as hard as you can for 3 seconds.
  3. Slowly release your grip.
  4. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.

Strength can help your wrists, but it’s only part of the picture. Light stretches can keep these joints mobile and relieve the stress of typing all day. You can do these simple stretches at your desk, in bed, at a red light, or whenever you want to get in a little extra wrist mobility.

Forearm muscles can get tight from the many repetitive tasks they do all day. Simple stretches help relieve that discomfort and prevent greater damage.

Wrist extension

Hold right arm straight out in front of you, with hand up like you’re saying “Stop! In the name of love.” With left hand, gently pull right hand back until you feel a stretch in right forearm.

Hold for 15 seconds, then switch arms. Repeat the sequence 5 times. Be gentle! You don’t want to pull anything, so go slowly and don’t force any movements.

Wrist flexion

This is the opposite of the last stretch.

Hold your right hand down with wrist at 90 degrees. With left hand, gently press right hand back toward your body until you feel a stretch across the back of right hand and wrist.

Hold for 15 seconds, then switch arms. Repeat the sequence 5 times.

Namaste stretch

Press your palms together in a Namaste pose right under your chin, with elbows out to the sides. Lower hands toward belly button, keeping palms glued together.

When you feel a stretch, hold it there for 30 seconds. Repeat 2–4 more times — whatever feels good.

For healthy wrists, the best defense is a good offense. You can do these exercises and stretches all you like, but if you have poor wrist habits the rest of the day, they’re not going to help.

Typing at a keyboard is a big culprit of wrist pain. When you’re at a computer, your forearms should be parallel to the floor with your wrists in a neutral position. Your hands shouldn’t always be at an angle — they should be pretty much in line with your arms to reduce strain.

You may need to adjust your keyboard position or use wrist rests to get your hands into a comfortable place. Though it might feel easier to type hunched over in your chair with your wrists going at any angle, that can cause you a lot of pain in the long run.

If you don’t have good wrist posture, you may develop strains and ailments like carpal tunnel syndrome. Nerves in your forearm get pinched, causing numbness, weakness, and pain in your hands.

Once you have the symptoms of carpal tunnel, they can take time to reverse. But you may be able to avoid the condition.

If you take a couple of minutes to stretch and strengthen every day and make sure you have an ergonomic workstation, your wrists should stay flexible, strong, and happy.

Don’t ignore your wrists. If you take a few minutes out of your week to stretch and strengthen, you’ll notice less pain at the keyboard and better results at the gym.

Start with a short warmup to get the blood flowing (walking is great). Do 3 or 4 wrist-strengthening exercises every other day. And do 2 or 3 stretches every day to keep things loose and happy.

With these exercises and an ergonomic typing position, you’ll have strong enough wrists to hang off the side of a building like your favorite action star.