Whether you're a gymnast yourself of the parent of one, it's important that you know how to prevent wrist injuries. Dorsal wrist impingement, in particular, is a common injury affecting gymnasts. This is an overuse injury that occurs due to a combination of repeated movement and stress or pressure on the wrist joint. Wrists impingements can be painful, but even when the pain goes away, the injury may still be present. Prolonged use of an impinged wrist could lead to a career-ruining injury. 

If your think your wrist or your child's wrist may already be injured, it's important to see a musculoskeletal physiotherapist to rehabilitate the joint before the condition becomes irreparable. If the wrist is currently in good shape, follow this simple triple-S guide to keep it that way. Remember, if you're unsure of how to complete any exercises safely, a physical therapist can offer guidance.


One of the biggest reasons that wrist impingements occur is poor wrist flexibility. In an given gymnastics routine, the wrist will need to twist and turn into a wide range of positions. If a gymnast's wrist isn't flexible, it's more likely to be injured by this movement.

Wrist flexibility can be built up by regular stretching exercises. Simply rotating your wrists clockwise and counter-clockwise is a good way to start improving flexibility. Gently bending your wrist backwards with your opposite hand and holding the position for a few seconds is another easy exercise you can do a few times a day. On top of that, you can also further stretch your wrists by applying pressure to them in different positions; try leaning your wrists down onto a table, or try lying on the ground and holding your upper body up with your wrists.


The other major cause of dorsal wrist impingements in gymnasts is a lack of strength in the wrist joints. Aside from the repeated movement of the wrist, most gymnastics moves and routines put a lot of weight on the joint too. If the wrist isn't strong enough to take this pressure, you're likely to end up with a wrist injury over time.

Like flexibility, wrist strength can be improved with regular, targeted exercises. The latter aforementioned wrist stretching exercise is a great way to build strength and flexibility at the same time; applying pressure trains your wrists to hold more weight. Another easy exercise to do at home is the wrist curl: place your arm on a table with your hand over the edge, and use that hand to lift a small dumbbell up and down, moving your wrist only. If your wrists are not yet strong enough to hold a light weight, try building their strength by repeatedly squeezing a tennis ball or dense stress ball in your hand.


Finally, it's a good idea to support your wrists with wrist guards. Wrist guards aren't a substitute for regular stretching and strengthening exercises, but they're a great complement to this physical therapy. 

Wrist guards help prevent injury by keeping your wrists in the right position and relieving some of the pressure they face during intense moves like handsprings and walkovers. Wrist supports are especially useful for child gymnasts who are still building stability in their wrists.