Push-ups are one of the most popular and effective exercises for building upper body and core strength. They can be done anywhere, anytime, and with no equipment.
However, push-ups can also cause wrist pain if done incorrectly or excessively. Wrist pain can interfere with your daily activities and prevent you from doing more push-ups.
Explore the common causes of wrist pain during push-ups, how to avoid them, and how to treat them.
What Causes Wrist Pain During Push-Ups?
There are several possible causes of wrist pain during push-ups, depending on the type, location, and severity of the pain. Some of the most common ones are:
Poor push-up technique:
If you do not use proper form when doing push-ups, you may put too much pressure on your wrists and strain the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints.
Some common mistakes include placing your hands too wide or too narrow, flaring your elbows out, locking your elbows, sagging or arching your back, or dropping your head. These errors can cause wrist pain as well as shoulder, elbow, neck, and back pain.
If you do too many push-ups or do them too frequently without enough rest and recovery, you may overwork your wrists and cause inflammation and micro-tears in the tissues.
This can lead to tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons), bursitis (inflammation of the bursae), or tenosynovitis (inflammation of the tendon sheaths). These conditions can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion in the wrists.
Fall on your outstretched hand or twist your wrist during push-ups, you may injure your wrist and cause a sprain (stretching or tearing of the ligaments), a strain (stretching or tearing of the muscles or tendons), or a fracture (breaking of the bones). These injuries can cause severe pain, bruising, swelling, deformity, and difficulty moving the wrist.
Have arthritis in your wrist joints, such as osteoarthritis (wear and tear of the cartilage) or rheumatoid arthritis (autoimmune inflammation of the synovium), you may experience pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced function in your wrists. Push-ups can aggravate these symptoms by increasing the stress on the joints.
How to Prevent Wrist Pain During Push-Ups?
To prevent wrist pain during push-ups, you should follow these tips:
Warm up properly:
Before doing push-ups, you should warm up your wrists and upper body by doing some gentle stretches and movements. This will increase blood flow and lubrication to the joints and tissues and prepare them for the exercise.
Use proper push-up technique:
You should use correct form when doing push-ups to avoid unnecessary stress on your wrists. Here are some guidelines:
- Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and directly under your shoulders.
- Keep your fingers spread out and pointing forward.
- Elbows close to your body and bend them at a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the movement.
- Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe without sagging or arching.
- Keep your head neutral and look slightly ahead of you.
- Contract your core muscles and squeeze your glutes.
- Lower yourself until your chest touches the floor and then push yourself back up.
Modify your push-up position:
If you find it hard to do push-ups on the floor or if they cause wrist pain, you can modify your position by elevating your hands on a stable surface such as a bench, a chair, a wall, or a countertop.
This will reduce the angle and pressure on your wrists and make the exercise easier. You can also use push-up bars or handles to keep your wrists in a neutral position instead of bending them.
Vary your push-up type:
To prevent overuse and boredom, you can vary your push-up type by changing the width of your hands, the elevation of your feet, or the direction of your fingers.
This will target different muscles in your upper body and reduce the stress on any single area. Some examples of push-up variations are diamond push-ups (hands close together), wide push-ups (hands far apart), decline push-ups (feet elevated), incline push-ups (hands elevated), knuckle push-ups (fists on the floor), or fingertip push-ups (fingers on the floor).
Rest and recover:
You should not do push-ups every day or too many at once. Should give yourself at least 48 hours of rest between push-up sessions and limit yourself to a number of reps and sets that you can do with good form and without pain.
You should also listen to your body and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort in your wrists or anywhere else.
How to Treat Wrist Pain After Push-Ups?
If you experience wrist pain after push-ups, you should follow these steps:
- Stop doing push-ups and any other activities that worsen the pain.
- Apply ice to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease the pain and inflammation.
- Wear a wrist splint or brace to support and immobilize your wrist and prevent further injury.
- Do some gentle wrist exercises and stretches to improve blood circulation and mobility in the wrist.
- See a doctor if the pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, or deformity. You may need further diagnosis and treatment such as X-rays, ultrasound, corticosteroid injections, or surgery.
Wrist pain during push-ups can be caused by poor push-up technique, overuse, injury, or arthritis. You can prevent wrist pain by warming up properly, using proper push-up technique, modifying your push-up position, varying your push-up type, and resting and recovering.
You can treat wrist pain by stopping the activity, applying ice, taking pain relievers, wearing a splint, doing exercises and stretches, and seeing a doctor if needed. By following these tips, you can enjoy the benefits of push-ups without hurting your wrists.