Wrist & Hand Exercises

After a wrist or hand injury, rehabilitation exercises should be performed as soon as pain allows. These exercises strengthen the muscles in the wrist, hand, and forearm which can help the injury heal and prevent further injuries. They also improve the range of motion of the wrist and hand which can make the area less prone to injury.

These exercises can be used for rehabilitation of specific injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Assisted Supinator Stretch

This stretch requires the help of a partner or therapist to stretch the muscles which supinate the wrist (turn the hand over).

Teaching Points:

  • The patient is in a relaxed position with the upper arm supported.
  • The therapist fully pronates the hand (so the palm faces down) to stretch and lengthen the supinator muscles.
  • A mild stretch may be felt in the wrist and forearm.
  • This position can be held for up to a minute, provided it does not cause pain.
  • Doing this exercise with the elbow bent reduces the stretch on the Biceps muscle to focus on supinator.

Muscles Stretched:

  • Supinator
  • Biceps Brachii
  • Brachioradialis

Putty Exercises (Various)

Putty can be used to strengthen the small muscles of the wrist and hand. This is useful after injuries such as a fracture to any of the small bones in the hand or a wrist, thumb or finger sprain.

Teaching Points:

  • It can be gripped in both hands and pulled apart to work on wrist deviation strength.
  • It can be held in one hand and twisted with the other to work on wrist extension
  • It can also be squeezed to improve grip strength.

Muscles Worked:

This depends on the exact exercise, but generally, the intrinsic muscles of the hand are worked to grip it and then the forearm muscles which control wrist extension, flexion, and radial and ulna deviation.

Prolonged Wrist Stretches

This exercise aims to increase the range of motion into pronation and supination. Pronation is the movement of turning the hand so the palm faces downwards. Supination is the opposite movements so the palm ends facing upwards.

Muscles Stretched:

In pronation:

  • Supinator
  • Biceps Brachii
  • Brachioradialis

In supination:

  • Pronator Teres
  • Pronator Quadratus

Ulna & Radial Deviation

Ulna and radial deviation are the movements of tilting the wrist from one side to the other. Radial deviation is to move the thumb side of the hand down towards the wrist and ulna deviation is moving the little finger side down.

Teaching Points:

  • To work on ulna deviation, the athlete holds a weighted bar in the hand with the arm by their side so that the palm faces inwards and the weight is at the back, as shown.
  • The athlete then tilts the wrist so that the little finger moves upwards.
  • To work radial deviation, the arm stays in the same position but the weight is moved to be in front of the hand.
  • The wrist is then pulled up so that the thumb moves towards the wrist.

Muscles Worked:

Ulna deviators:

  • Extensor Carpi Ulnaris
  • Flexor Carpi Ulnaris

Radial deviators:

  • Flexor Carpi Radialis
  • Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis
  • Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus

Wrist Flexion

This wrist flexion exercise can be performed with a dumbbell as shown, or with a resistance band. It is great for strengthening the wrist flexor muscles of the forearm after wrist and elbow injuries.

Teaching Points:

  • To strengthen the muscles which flex the wrist, the athlete sits with the forearm supported and palm facing upwards.
  • Starting with the wrist bend downwards and a small weight in the hand, the athlete pulls the wrist upwards, keeping the forearm flat on the table.
  • They then slowly reverse this movement.

Muscles Worked:

  • Flexor Carpi Radialis
  • Flexor Carpi Ulnaris
  • Flexor Digitorum Superficialis
  • Flexor Pollicis Longus

Alternative Exercises:

  • Resistance band wrist flexion

Wrist Extension

Wrist extension exercises are rarely used in weight training programmes, although it is a great exercise for rehabilitation of injuries such as tennis elbow and sprains/fractures of the wrist.

Teaching points

  • Support the arm on a bench or table as shown, with the palm facing downwards.
  • Pull the wrist back so that the dumbbell moves towards the body.
  • Slowly return to that starting position.


  • Perform whilst kneeling with the forearm rested on a bench in front of you.

Muscles Worked

  • Extensor Carpi Ulnaris.
  • Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis.
  • Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus.
  • Extensor Pollicis Longus.
  • Extensor Digitorum Communis.

Finger Exercises with Rubber Band

Rubberband exercises are a great way for strengthening the finger extensors and is commonly used in treating tennis elbow injuries as the same muscles causing pain at the elbow, also control finger extension.

Teaching Points:

  • A rubber band is placed around the fingers and thumb.
  • The athlete spreads the fingers apart as far as possible.
  • This can be done on all fingers at once, or between two individual fingers.

Muscles Worked:

  • Extensor Digitorum Communis
  • Extensor Pollicis Longus
This article has been written with reference to the bibliography.