We’ve covered a variety of common pickleball injuries and how to prevent them, but one type of injury is common but rarely addressed: wrist injuries. Prolonged and chronic overuse of your wrist while playing can put you on the sidelines fast!
However, using your wrist is essential to your pickleball game in terms of adjusting shot trajectory by adding spin, and it comes naturally in the follow-through of most forehand and backhand shots. Because the wrist is integral to shot control, you must be proactive when conditioning your wrists for the pickleball court.
Not only will strong wrists help prevent injury, but they’ll also improve shot control and spin. Let’s jump right into our top 5 exercises to prepare your wrists for pickleball!
Grip Strength Trainer Exercises
There are various wrist exercises out there, but the age-old grip trainer has been a favorite of racket sports players for decades. Right now, you can pick one up on Amazon for under 10 bucks. A good deal for a tool that is guaranteed to improve your hand, wrist, and forearm strength and stability!
The standard hand squeeze exercise is the most common use of a grip strength trainer. Still, several other squeezes will improve overall wrist stability by working out your hand in various positions. From whole-hand squeezes to concentrated squeezes with just your thumb and pinky, your wrists will thank you for the continued use of a grip trainer.
The NIYIKOW adjustable grip strengthener is excellent for strengthening hands, forearms, wrists, and fingers. It is ideal for anyone wanting to develop and maintain strong healthy hands and for those who have Arthritis, Tendonitis, Carpal Tunnel, and those who are recovering from tendon surgery.
Isometric Ball Squeeze
Don’t want to buy a grip trainer but have some tennis balls in the garage from when you used to play that archaic sport? Pick one up and start squeezing!
There’s science behind why squeeze/stress balls are highly beneficial for recovering from acute injuries and working through chronic wrist conditions such as arthritis. According to ITC Medical, squeeze balls relieve stress and anxiety and help build strength, flexibility, and muscle memory.
Simply pick up a tennis ball or squeeze ball and try to get in 10 reps per hand for about 3-4 sets. You can be casual about it and get a few squeezes in here and there during your work day while sitting at your desk.
Seated Barbell Wrist Curls
Now, let’s get into a few exercises you can try at the gym. Before you jump right in, it’s essential to start with a lightweight option and work your way up. Pushing your body immediately to maximize your exercise will also increase your likelihood of injury – simply put, be mindful!
Seated wrist curls are ideal for targeting muscles in your forearm, which directly work alongside your wrists to give hand movements strength and support. Building strong forearms is fundamental for many upper body movements, but especially for flicking your pickleball paddle.
- Select the barbell of your desired weight and sit on a bench with your forearms resting on your thighs.
- Using a palms-up or supinated grip, slowly curl the bar towards your body, being sure to only use the wrists.
- Once you’ve brought your hands up as far as they can go, gently relax your wrists and lower the weight back to the starting position.
- Repeat for a total of 6-8 reps, and continue the exercise for 3 total sets.
Seated Hammer Wrist Curls
Once you’ve finished up with the barbell, set it down and pick up a couple of dumbbells, totaling a similar amount of weight, and return to the bench. While the supinated barbell wrist curls target your inner forearm, hammer wrist curls are great at strengthening your outer forearm.
- From an upright seated position on a bench, place your forearms on your thighs and hold both dumbbells with your palms facing each other.
- In this position, move your wrists upwards, tilting the barbell back towards your body. The only part of your body that you should be moving in this exercise is your wrists, keep your forearms still and flat.
- Bring the dumbbells back to the starting position, releasing tension in the wrist.
- Repeat for a total of 6-8 reps, continuing the exercise for a total of 3 sets.
Our final exercise is a classic and arguably the most versatile of the ones we’ve proposed today, as it has the widest range of motion and strengthens the majority of muscles associated with wrist movements.
Rollers are commonly found in most gyms, but makeshift rollers can be made by using the end of a barbell on a rack with a resistance band and a plate.
- Grab onto the handles of the wrist roller with both hands in a pronated, overhand grip.
- Begin rotating the roller in both hands in one direction, allowing the band to coil slowly around the bar of the roller. Eventually, the weight will come to the top, touching the roller.
- Switching directions, roll the bar until the weight touches the ground again. Keep going until the weight wraps around the opposite direction all the way back up to the top.
- Switch directions again, and repeat this action until the weight has reached the roller 4 times. Do 2-3 sets.
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