Discomfort in your wrist start with tissue quality

Last week I talked about problems of the wrist and elbow and how many people deal with pain and discomfort on a daily basis. The wrist extensors on the top side of the forearm and the wrist flexors on the bottom side of the forearm are a large reason for these issues.

Imbalances, poor tissue quality, and overuse can all cause pain and discomfort at the joints above and below the forearm. If you are one of these people dealing with this pain you are probably asking “Why are you still talking about the pain? Tell me how to fix it!” That is my intent for this article. I am going to give you ways to alleviate the pain and ways to fix the source of the problem.

Many times, pain at the joint is caused by poor tissue quality of the surrounding muscle. Restrictions, short muscles, and poor mobility cause extra pull on joints that is unwanted and can cause pressure and pain. With the cases of the wrist and elbow, restrictions at the forearm can be the culprit of pain.

As I mentioned last week, these restrictions may be caused by our daily activities such as typing, writing, or instrument playing therefore we must add daily remedies to help keep tissue quality good. One of the best remedies for this is massage. A massage therapist has the ability to improve tissue quality by bringing short, restricted muscles back to their desired length. The problem with massage is that it can add up to be an expensive habit.

An easier and cheaper way to get similar results would be that of self-myofacial release (SMR). SMR is a form of self-massage. Things such as foam rollers, lacrosse balls, massage sticks, etc. have been used in the fitness world for years now and have proven to improve tissue quality and joint mobility. In the case of wrist and elbow pain, using a lacrosse ball to massage the wrist extensor group and wrist flexor group can help ease the pain we battle daily with.

If you are experiencing pain on the top side of the wrist or outside of the elbow take a lacrosse ball and roll it along the top side of the forearm, applying pressure as needed. Perform this for 1-2 minutes, focusing on areas that feel “knotted”. If you are one who is experiencing pain when gripping or on the inside of the elbow, use the lacrosse ball the same way on the underside of the forearm. After massaging the area perform stretches for about 20-30 seconds to help restore optimal length to the muscle.

Massage and stretching on a daily basis will help relieve pain and start to improve tissue quality; however, many times it isn’t only about tissue quality but also muscular imbalances. Again, depending on our daily tasks, one side of the forearm may be stronger than the other causing an uneven pull on the joints. Those suffering pain on the topside may exhibit weak grip strength, meaning the wrist flexors are lacking.

If you have access to a hand dynamometer, test your grip strength. The normal range for men is about 90-100lbs. of pressure and the normal range for women is 60-70lbs. If you find that your grip is below the norm start incorporating grip strengthening exercises into your fitness routine. Wrist curls, carries, and deadlifts without lifting straps can all help increase grip strength. Perform an exercise of this type in your routine 2-3 days per week and re-measure your grip strength every 4-6 weeks to track your progress.

Every day we are doing the same movements over and over again. These movements cause all kinds of imbalances and issues in our body. When developing a fitness routine, keep this in mind. Part of the reason to go to the gym is to counterbalance everything we do on a daily basis. Strengthen weak areas and lengthen short, restricted areas and live a less painful life. But remember, every day we cause imbalance so every day we must work on adding balance.