Gymnasts and Wrist pain

Wrist pain is quite common in gymnastics when weight bearing activities such as handstands, vaulting, beam and vaulting can place forces of up to 5 x body weight when completing skills. Most commonly the wrist pain is located on the back of the wrist (dorsal surface). Sometimes the injury can be caused by one single incident like a sprain, or can also be due to repetitive loading of the joint. Contributing factors of developing wrist pain include:
  1. Lack of wrist extension range of motion
  2. Hypermobility of the wrist and carpal bones
  3. Poor technique of weight bearing drills eg. Wrists rotated on impact to the vault, excessive hyperextension on weight bearing
  4. Injury, weakness or abnormalities of the elbow, scapula and thoracic spine causing altered biomechanics
  5. Tight shoulders, especially tight lats (latissimus dorsi) causing reduced shoulder range. As the gymnast cannot achieve full shoulder flexion they may overcompensate by using wrist hyperextension
Things that can help wrist pain include:
  1. Massage to the forearms flexors (when tight – these forearm muscles restrict wrist extension
  2. Mobilization of a stiff wrist joint
  3. Spiky ball massage to forearm muscles
  4. Latissimus Dorsi stretches
  5. Thoracic spine mobilization
  6. Checking with your coach re your wrist position when doing activities such as headstands, back bridges – are your wrists shallow or too deep
At PhysioHealth we aim to identify the injury site, and then search for contributing factors that can not only help the problem be resolved, but also help prevent future recurrence of the injury. Often it is only with a full physiotherapy assessment, discussion with the patient and or parents about their training regimes, and discussion with their coach re technical deficiencies or biomechanical patterns that a full recovery can be attained.  
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