Is this equation true for you? Front squats = wrist pain. How about if you change out "front squats" for thrusters, overhead squats, cleans, snatches, push presses, jerks, handstands, or push ups? It doesn't have to be that way. Seeing these movements on the whiteboard shouldn't send your wrists screaming in fear.
Would you run a mile without warming up your hips, ankles, or knees? Of course not! Your wrists are no different - they need a warm up. This means a general warm up as well as wrist specific exercises, and more time with an empty bar. They might feel tight at first, but giving them time to warm up will help them be prepared for all that you demand of them.
Craving more handstand walking or pushups in your life? Make sure you take care to not only warm up properly but spend time developing your strength-endurance. That can mean more time in planks and handstand holds, but there are some great wrist strength exercises that will help as well. Interested? Ask your coaches for some homework.
Once you are ready to take on your workout, it's time to check your positioning. When the bar is overhead, make sure you don't let it roll back into the top of your palm. This forces the weight behind your forearm, and will put more tension on your wrist. Instead, keep your wrist in line with your forearm and the weight balanced over it.
For cleans, practice receiving the bar high. You should receive above your clavicles, resting the bar on your shoulders (but not rounding your shoulders) instead of out in front of your shoulders. Make sure your back is tall and tight. Practice releasing your hook grip and relaxing your fingers as you come into the receiving position, right after your elbows have rotated up and around the bar. This will keep your wrists in a better position and at the same time, make you more consistent with your lifts.
For cleans, thrusters and front squats, try a wider grip. Often athletes adopt a grip that is too narrow, putting more pressure on your wrists. Instead of keeping your hands tightly gripping the bar, let them relax, so you the bar is resting on your fingertips.
Wrist mobility should be addressed in your warm up, but if you want to make gains in your wrist flexibility, wrist mobility work should be a part of your at-home routine. Here a few to try at home:
While on all fours, start with your wrists flipped externally hands flat on the ground, palms down. With the weight mostly in your legs, slowly sit back until you feel the stretch.
Move your body back and down towards your feet while keeping your hands flat on the ground.
In the same position on all fours, place one hand on the ground, palm now facing up. Place your other hand on top of the palm up hand. Keeping your bottom hand in place, externally rotate your forearm so the inside of your elbow points forward. Wash, rinse and repeat. Then do the same on with your other hand.</p>
Place both of your palms together in front of you in a "prayer pose," fingers pointing upward. Maintaining palm contact, bring your hands down as low as possible. When completed, flip your hands so your fingers point downward. Bring your hand as high as you can while still maintaining palm contact.
Place both of your palms together behind your back in the same "prayer pose." (Getting them there might be all the stretch you need.)
This one is good for after your other wrist work. Lace your fingers together. Keeping your fingers together, push and pull your hands around in every rotational path possible. Get full rotations and keep your wrists loose.
If you are about to tackle a wrist intensive workout and you are still dealing with wrist sensitivity, try taping your wrists. If you need extra support, I strongly recommend trying out a pair of wrist wraps. If you are looking to buy a pair, you can purchase them here.