9 Exercises to Strengthen Your Wrists

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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  • Female physical therapist doing wrist or hand exercise with male patient

    Wrist exercises can help stretch and strengthen your wrists to increase your flexibility and help you perform daily tasks comfortably. These wrist stretches may also help ease discomfort during yoga or other exercise.

    Wrist exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome won’t cure the condition, but stretches combined with adjusting your activities or using a splint may help you feel better. If you have arthritis, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor to make sure these stretches, especially wrist exercises with weights, are safe for you to perform. If you feel pain in your wrists that doesn’t improve with gentle stretches and exercise, it’s time to call your doctor.

  • 1
    Gently pull your fingers back to stretch your wrist.
    Woman stretching hand or wrist by pulling fingers back toward arm

    To perform this wrist stretch, place your palm over the fingers of the other hand. Gently pull the fingers back toward your wrist, away from your palm. Count slowly to 25, and then release. Then stretch the other wrist the same way.

  • 2
    Hold your hands outward, and gently bend your wrist down.
    Hand stretching

    Hold one arm out straight in front of you, palm down and fingers extended. Bend the wrist at a 90-degree angle, pointing your fingers to the floor. Use your other hand to gently pull your hand back toward you. You’ll feel the stretch in your forearm. Count 15 to 30 seconds, and release. Then stretch your other wrist the same way, and repeat both sides a couple of times.

  • 3
    Put the backs of your hands together, and stretch your wrist.
    Doctor examining senior woman's arm and wrist

    With your arms extended forward, press the backs of your wrists together. Gently stretch your hands away from each other, while keeping your wrists touching. Count slowly to 25 and release. This wrist exercise helps stretch your forearm and elbow muscles.

  • 4
    Flex and extend your hand over the side of a table for a wrist stretch.

    Grab a rolled-up towel or washcloth to support your wrist during this stretch. Put the towel at the edge of a table and rest your wrist on it, with your hand over the edge, palm facing downward. Raise your hand (extending the muscle) until you feel the stretch in your wrist, and hold for about 10 seconds. Then lower your hand (flexing the muscle) for a good stretch. Repeat the exercise several times. Then switch to the other wrist.

  • 5
    Rotate your forearm to increase wrist range of motion.
    Woman stretching in yoga pose with palm facing down

    This exercise is called a wrist supination and pronation. Bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle, with your palm facing down. Then rotate your forearm so your palm faces up (supination) and hold the position for up to 10 seconds. Then rotate your palm back down toward the floor (pronation) and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat this motion 10 times, and then switch to stretch the other wrist. Be sure to keep your elbow still as you rotate your forearm.

  • 6
    Wave your hand to improve range of motion.

    Use your rolled-up towel or washcloth to support your wrist on the edge of a table. Hold your hand out straight, palm facing toward the side with your thumb toward the ceiling. Bend gently at the wrist up and down, kind of like you’re waving. Your thumb will move straight up toward the ceiling, and then your pinkie finger will move straight down toward the floor. Hold a few seconds as you move up and down, and repeat the stretch several times on each side. You can also do this exercise with your palm facing down. Bending your wrist toward the pinkie finger is called ulnar flexion (or ulnar deviation), and bending the wrist toward the thumb is called radial deviation (or radial deviation).

  • 7
    Grab an exercise band for increased resistance to strengthen wrists.
    Woman in nature setting exercising arms or wrists using resistance band

    If you have a resistance band, add it to these exercises to further strengthen your wrists. You’ll have to adjust your positioning slightly to use the band. To perform the wrist extension exercise, sit and place your forearm on your leg with your wrist out beyond your knee. Hold the resistance band with your palm facing down, and put the other end of the band under your foot, keeping the band taut. Gently bend your wrist upward as you count slowly to 2. Then lower your wrist slowly as you count to 5. Repeat several times, and switch sides. Then, flip your arm over and slowly flex your wrist upward, holding the resistance band.

  • 8
    Wrist exercises with weights are another form of resistance exercise.
    Home healthcare nurse helping woman exercise after wrist surgery.

    Similar to using a resistance band, holding small weights in your hand as you flex and extend the muscles in your arm is also a great exercise to strengthen your wrists. Position your arm the same way on your leg, and hold the weight as you bend your wrist slowly up and down to flex and extend the muscles. Repeat on both sides. Try holding the weights while you rotate your forearm for another wrist strengthening exercise.

  • 9
    Exercise your wrists without moving the joint.
    Woman with crossed arms performing yoga exercise

    Performing wrist exercises that don’t move the joint are helpful to strengthen the muscles without putting added stress on the wrist joint itself. To do this, hold your forearm out. Your palm can face up or down—the key is to hold your palm motionless with the other hand. Attempt to bend your outstretched wrist while your opposite hand pushes up against your palm, creating resistance without moving the joint. Try to bend the wrist up and down and side to side several times. Then switch hands.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Feb 23
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