Flexibility isn’t just important for gymnasts and dancers. We can all benefit from strong, pliable muscles, even if those muscles are primarily used to get through the daily rigors of life.
But, one group that often overlooks flexibility is weight lifters. It’s understandable, because, after all, weight training constricts the muscles, while stretching elongates them.
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But, the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. When stretching for strength training, people tend to focus on the big muscle groups, like the legs and back, while ignoring equally important areas like the hands, wrists, and arms.
Here we break down wrist and arm stretches you should include in your strength training routine, plus why weightlifters should stretch.
Stretching Improves Lifting
Stretching can actually help to improve one’s lifting by increasing range of motion, thus allowing you to better execute a lift.
This applies across the entire body. At best, not doing wrist and arm stretches might create some discomfort when lifting, and hinder range of motion.
“Without proper range of motion, your form is compromised and exercise benefits can suffer.”
Beyond just missing out on the full benefits of a particular exercise, compromised form is a recipe for injury.
Perform a lift at the wrong angle, or favor one side of your body due to imbalances, and you could hurt yourself.
“You are more prone to injury when your flexibility is lacking,” adds Giamo.
So, what’s a safety-minded lifter like yourself to do? We’ll show you, with these five wrist and arm stretches meant to increase flexibility and range of motion.
Wrist and Arm Stretches
With your arms in front of you, make a loose fist with both hands. Rotate your wrists clockwise for several repetitions, and then repeat in a counterclockwise motion.
Wrist Flexor Stretch
Put one arm straight out in front of you at shoulder height with your palm facing out and fingers pointing up, like you’re about to receive a stiff high five.
Using the opposite hand, grab the fingers of the extended hand. Pull them back toward your body until you feel a stretch in your wrist and forearm. Hold for 15 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
Wrist Extensor Stretch
The opposite of the above exercise, the wrist extensor stretch should be used in conjunction with the wrist flexor stretch (this tool can really help). This will keep your wrists and forearms flexible and balanced, able to move freely in both directions.
Put one arm straight out in front of you at shoulder height with the back of your hand facing out and your palm facing you.
Using the opposite hand, grab the extended hand. Gently pull it toward your body until you feel a stretch on the top of your wrist and forearm.
Hold for 15 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
Arm Pronation and Supination
Giamo likes this simple move, which can have a meaningful impact, for its ability to target the shoulder and entire arm.
Facing forward, hold your arms straight out to the sides so that your body makes a T. Start with your palms facing up.
Slowly rotate your arms until your palms are facing down. Continue rotating up and down.
This stretch increases flexibility in the shoulder capsule and through the back of the arm.
Face forward, and place your right arm across your chest, while keeping the elbow slightly bent. With your left hand, grip your right arm just above the elbow, and gently pull the arm across your body until you feel a stretch.
Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
For more stretches to increase mobility in your arms and entire body, view the newest stretching classes in the Aaptiv app today.