Performing a push-up exerts a considerable amount of pressure through your wrist joints and other structures of your upper limb; however, if you are someone who just puts up with wrist pain when you do push-ups, you shouldn’t!
The most common position for a push-up is with the wrist dorsiflexed (as pictured). What seems like a pretty straight forward hinge is actually quite complex as it has a significant component of rotation. Therefore, if your forearm isn’t rotating enough, your wrist isn’t dorsiflexing enough, and bearing weight through it will be uncomfortable. Of course, avoiding dorsiflexion and using alternative methods, such as performing push-ups on your fists or using dumbbells, might be a positive pain avoidance solution, however most people should be able to perform pain-free push-ups with the wrist dorsiflexed.
The wrist position is important to enable optimal joint and muscle function, hence a grip that is too wide or too narrow may place increased stress on these structures. Try adjusting your grip to see whether some positions cause more pain than others.
The fascia, or connective tissue, that separates muscles and other structures of the entire upper limb might become shortened, for example, due to repetitive load or poor posture. This may result in a wrist dorsiflexion limitation and therefore, when you go to perform your push-ups, repetitive stretching of the fascia under load will generally cause you wrist pain.
Alongside are two stretches you can perform at home to lengthen the fascia. You should start with the first stretch (fingers pointing upward), and if you fail to feel a stretch in your index and middle finger, as well as through your palm, the front of your forearm, your bicep and shoulder, move on to the second stretch (fingers pointing backward). Hold for 1-2 minutes. You might want to self massage the muscles at the front of your forearm before performing the stretch to enhance the lengthening effect.
If you have attempted these tips and still find yourself experiencing wrist pain with push-ups, book an appointment with one of our highly trained Physiotherapists at Sydney’s Bend + Mend Physio, to enable a thorough assessment and solve your wrist pain for good!