Monday, June 2, 2014

The DBCB Mobility Project: Forearms (Wrist & Elbows)

Happy Mobility Monday!  I've decided that Mondays will officially be the day for new blog posts about mobility.  And being an alliteration is just too perfect.  The first week I covered the shoulders, then I moved down from the shoulders to the lats.  This week I'm moving down from the shoulders on the arms to the often-neglected forearms.  I know that I've heard paddlers complaining about their aching elbows or wrists.  Well both of those are common with repetitive strain injuries (RSI) such as tendonitis, carpel tunnel syndrome, or tennis elbow.  Before you hit full blown RSI, you can take steps to reduce pain.  Any pain felt in the elbow or wrist is usually related to tightness in the forearm, not the actual joint.  So take care of your forearms and your joints will remain pain-free.

A little anatomy (or why does my elbow hurt?)

Muscles of the back forearm

A number of extensor muscles in your forearm meet at a single tendon that attaches to the elbow, the common extensor tendon.  When your extensor muscles get strained, it will pull on that tendon causing pain at the elbow.  No matter how much icy hot you apply to your elbow, the pain won't go away because the source of the pain is the forearm muscles.
Muscles of the front forearm
The same goes for wrist issues.  The tendons that run through the wrist are attached to muscled in the forearm.  So we want to take care of those muscles and not the just wrist itself.

The Exercises

Lacrosse Ball Forearm Smash
First exercise is a lacrosse ball forearm smash.  And it's exactly what it sounds like.  To do this, get next to a table and place the lacrosse ball on the surface.  Now place your forearm over the lacrosse ball, and using your other hand apply pressure onto the ball.  Roll it around the forearm, making sure to cover both the front and back of the forearm.  After 2-3 minutes, switch arms.

Forearm stretches
The next set of exercises are stretches for the forearm, which should be familiar to you already.  Reach your right arm out, palm facing down.  Flex your hand down, and with your other hand grab the hand to help get a deeper stretch.  After holding the stretch for 30 seconds to a minute, switch arms.  The next stretch is the reverse.  Reach your right arm out, palm facing up.  Flex your hand down, and with your other hand grab the hand to get a deeper stretch.  Once again hold for 30 seconds to a minute, and switch arms.

Do these exercises often if you are prone to wrist and elbow issues.  If you already have an RSI then please follow the guidance of your doctor.

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