Wrist Isometric exercises are used to reduce pain and manage the swelling. These exercises are done in the early case of injury, or while the wrist is in a cast or in an immobilizer. Isometric exercises do not allow any muscle lengthening or any visible movement in the body. So it is a little tricky to understand and to perform correctly. However, with the help of the clinician, you can learn how to perform these exercises accurately. In this article, I want to describe some important wrist isometric exercises.
Wrist Isometrics: Flexion & Extension
As shown in the figure below, you can place your forearm on a table. Place your other hand on top of the hand. Try to lift your hand up (wrist extension), at the same time, with the other hand, press gently against the hand – as if you are resisting or opposing the motion.
You should not be feeling any pain or discomfort due to pressure on your wrist.
To perform isometrics wrist flexion, flip the hand over on the table. Now you are placing the other hand on the palm of the hand to avoid the palm moving upwards. Again, make sure not to apply too much pressure from the opposite hand that can cause any discomfort.
Wrist Isometrics: Deviation
This is a little tricky to explain. I will try to do justice with words as much as I can.
The figure below explains how to perform isometrics of wrist radial deviation. Your forearm in a neutral position as shown in the picture below. In this position, you are trying to lift your wrist upwards, in the direction of the chest. At the same, your other hand is preventing/resisting that movement by applying force exactly opposite to that movement. The red arrow demonstrates the direction of force applied by the other hand to prevent the wrist from performing an actual movement.
For isometric Ulnar deviation: you are trying to bring the wrist downwards and pressure applied by the other hand opposite to that.
Finger isometrics are done in many ways. Depending on the type of injury or strength level, a clinical can choose to perform isometrics of each finger or all at ones.
Trying to squeeze a hardball is a type of finger isometric exercise. Maintaining a downward dog yoga pose (active pose) or pushing against wall/floor actively with fingers extended (straightened) are also types of isometric exercises.
For individual finger exercise, you are applying pressure on each finger with the other hand in the opposite direction of the movement.
So for example, in the figure above, a person is trying to perform isometric of index finger extension by applying pressure on the tip of fingers to prevent the actual movement. The same is done on each finger and also for finger flexion.
This is another important and very useful exercise. As shown in the figure, a person is trying to move the thumb upwards and applying pressure with the other hand in the opposite direction.
The thumb moves in a different plane than other fingers. I talked about thumb exercises here. You can perform other thumb exercises similar way by applying pressure on the opposite side of the movement.
Hope this article helps to perform isometrics of the wrist. You can download the handouts for wrist isometrics here.
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