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Working Out with a Wrist Injury

Nurse Susan explains that if you have a wrist injury, there are ways you can keep up with your workouts while letting your wrist recover.

Wrist injuries are pretty common among gym-goers, especially if you are in the business of lifting heavy weights or doing lots of intense bodyweight exercises. Whether you are dealing with a strain, a sprain, or a broken bone, there are still lots of ways you can keep up with your workouts while letting your wrist recover. If you are feeling a little defeated after injuring your wrist, keep these nine tips in mind and give them a try during your next training session.

Use Resistance Bands

Holding dumbbells or a barbell is probably out of the equation if you have an injured wrist. But, that does not mean you have to forgo resistance training. Try swapping out your weights for resistance bands for a few weeks while letting your wrist heal.

You can use resistance bands to do almost all of the same exercises that you would do with weights, including standard upper body moves like chest presses, shoulder presses, bicep curls, and chest flyes.

It is easy to keep your wrist in a neutral position and avoid flexing or extending it with resistance bands. Since they are so light, you also do not have to worry about fatiguing the small muscles in the wrists and hands.

Try Kettlebells

Kettlebells are another excellent option for people who cannot grip dumbbells or barbells but still want to strength train. When using kettlebells, keeping your wrist straight and stable is essential.

This makes them the perfect choice for anyone who cannot flex or extend their wrist. Some of the best exercises to do when dealing with wrist pain include:

  • Snatches
  • Rows
  • Overhead press
  • Floor press

Modify Planks and Push-ups

Bodyweight exercises like planks and push-ups can be challenging, if not impossible when working with a wrist injury. One way to continue doing these exercises is to modify them with dumbbells or kettlebells.

Instead of putting your hands flat on the floor, place two dumbbells or kettlebells under your shoulders and grip the handles instead. If you are in a cast or splint, you will not be able to take advantage of this modification.

But, if your wrists are sore or achy, you can give this hack a try, so you do not have to skip push-ups and planks altogether.

Strengthen Your Grip

If you have to take a break from some of your regularly scheduled sessions but do not want to skip the gym entirely, you might want to take some time to work on strengthening your grip.

By improving your grip strength, you will be building up the muscles in the hands, wrists, and forearms. This can help you avoid future soreness and injuries. It will also improve your ability to do exercises like pull-ups, deadlifts, and front squats, which require a lot of wrist strength and mobility.

Some of the best ways to strengthen your grip include:

  • Isolation exercises with light dumbbells or a grip strengthening tool
  • Farmer's walks with a kettlebell
  • Deadlift holds
  • Reverse curls
  • Bar hangs with a towel

Focus on Reps Instead of Weight

If you can still lift weights but cannot handle going very heavy, take some time away from prioritizing weight and focus on increasing repetitions instead.

Admittedly, this might not be the best option for hypertrophy and muscle building. But, it is better than nothing, as it will keep you in practice and improve your endurance without straining your wrists.

Correct Imbalances

Most athletes tend to have imbalances that favour one side of the body over the other. If you have injured your dominant side, take advantage of your recovery time and prioritize building up strength on the weaker side. Single-arm rows, lat pull-downs, chest presses, and shoulder presses are great options for correcting imbalances.

Strengthen Your Core

Instead of focusing on the exercises, you cannot do while covering from an injury, spend your time in the gym, focusing on what you can still do. For example, there are many other exercises you can do to strengthen your core while letting your wrist heal. You can even do planks, as long as you put your weight on your forearms rather than your wrists.

Some other great core-strengthening exercises include:

  • Kettlebell
  • Russian twists
  • V-ups
  • Supermans
  • Swimmers
  • Hollow-body holds
  • Sit-ups

Do not Neglect Your Lower Body

Do not neglect your lower body while recovering from a wrist injury, either. Even if you cannot hold a barbell to do deadlifts and squats, you can still work your legs and glutes with bodyweight squats, walking lunges, Bulgarian split squats, hip thrusts, and calf raises.

You can also work on dynamic exercises like box jumps, split squat jumps, and squat jumps if you have stability. Of course, if you are not experienced in these kinds of movements, it is best to wait until your wrist is healed. You will not have to worry about losing your balance and accidentally re-injuring it.

Make Sure Your Diet is on Point

When dealing with an injury, many people worry about gaining weight while they let their bodies recover. But, it is essential to know that you can prevent a lot of weight gain by adjusting your diet to match your current activity level.

If you are moving less, you may want to eat less since your body will not require as many calories. In addition to adjusting your consumption to match your movement, you will also want to prioritize protein intake. Protein is very satiating, and consuming enough of it will help you avoid overeating.

It would help if you also ate lots of anti-inflammatory foods to promote further healing, such as tomatoes, leafy greens, nuts, fatty fish, olive oil, and berries.

Final Thoughts

If you are struggling with a wrist injury, remember that you do not have to give up exercising altogether. Keep these tips in mind as you restructure your workouts to accommodate your recovery, and you will be back to your regular training before you know it!

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • NURSE, S. (2018) Working Out with a Wrist Injury [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Nurse Susan has always been passionate about helping people heal. After she retired from a lifelong career as a nurse, that passion did not disappear. She loves to use her expertise to write about the best ways to keep you and your family healthy, active, and happy.