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Wrist Tendonitis Exercises that Help Fix Pain

by Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT May 06, 2020 0 Comments

woman using ring grip exercises

Wrist tendonitis exercises can be an effective antidote to the stiffness and soreness that comes with this condition. However, specific exercises need to be chosen carefully to maximize effectiveness. With an exercise program to specifically address wrist tendonitis, you can get back to normal life quicker. Keep reading to learn about wrist tendonitis exercises and stretches.

Wrist Stretches

To improve flexibility and find relief from pain, try some simple stretches of the affected wrist tendons. This is especially important if you are experiencing stiffness from wearing a wrist splint. Focus on sitting or standing in a relaxed position with good posture to optimize each stretch.

Wrist Extension Stretch

To address the wrist flexor muscles, start by holding the wrist in extension. To do so, stretch your arm out in front of you with the elbow straight and palm facing down. Then, use the opposite hand to gently push the palm and wrist up into extension.

Hold for 20-30 seconds for up to 3 sets. Do not force the stretch and modify if you experience pain or nerve symptoms. To progress, you can put your hands in a “prayer” position in front of your chest to stretch both hands at once.

Wrist Flexion Stretch

This time, you will stretch the wrist extensors by flexing the wrist. Once again, your arm will be out in front of you with the elbow straight and palm facing down. This time, use the opposite hand to push the back of your hand down toward the floor into a bent wrist position.

Hold 20-30 seconds for 2-3 sets.

Thumb Stretch

This stretch specifically addresses trouble areas in the thumb specifically related to De Quervain's Syndrome. Start by bringing your thumb across your palm toward the base of your pinkie finger. Then, wrap your fingers around the entire thumb. With your arm out straight and pinkie down toward the floor, let the wrist gently bend sideways as you bring your pinkie closer to the floor.

Hold 20-30 seconds for 2-3 sets.  You should feel this stretch at the base of the thumb and side of your wrist.

Wrist Exercises

These are simple range of motion exercises that are great for getting the wrist moving and loose. Try doing these in the morning before your normal routine or as a warm-up before strengthening exercises.

Is your tendonitis caused by typing? Find tips & solutions here.

Wrist Warm-Up

Sit in a comfortable chair with the forearm supported on an armrest, or your thigh if necessary, with free space for the hand to move. Simply warm up the wrist and hand by moving it around in circular motions. You can add finger flexion and extension to the move as your wrist loosens up.

Complete 10-15 circles in each direction as needed.

Wrist Flexion and Extension

This movement addresses the wrist range of motion and promotes circulation all at once. With your arm out in front of you, elbow straight and palm facing down, simply move the hand up and down as you bend and extend the wrist. To intensity the stretch, you can curl the fingers as you bring the palm down toward the floor and straighten the fingers as you bring the hand up toward the ceiling.

Hold for 3-5 seconds with each movement, alternate between the two up to 20 times as needed.

Radial and Ulnar Deviation

This move is similar to the movement above, except this time the wrist motion is side to side. Start with the thumb facing up toward the ceiling. Alternate between bringing the thumb side up toward the ceiling and then dropping the pinkie side down toward the floor.

Hold for 3-5 seconds with each movement, alternate back and for up to 20 times as needed.

Milking Massage

Although this exercise is technically not for range of motion or flexibility, it is valuable for promoting relaxation and healing in the wrist. It’s a great way to end an exercise session with the wrist or after a long stretch of typing. Simply use the opposite hand to gently squeeze the entire forearm, wrist, and hand. If any sore areas are discovered, stop, and focus there with additional pressure and massage specifically to any tendons or muscles as needed.

Complete for 1-2 minutes after your exercise program.

Find more wrist strengthening exercises here.

How Wrist Exercises & Stretches Help

When the wrist starts feeling “off” due to swelling, pain, and stiffness, having a good routine will help provide immediate and long term relief. It’s all about finding the right balance of stretching, strengthening, and home treatment.

Try these home remedies for wrist tendonitis


The many benefits of wrist stretches and range of motion include:

  • Decreased stiffness
  • Pain relief
  • Increased circulation to promote healing
  • Improved muscle balance for better wrist and hand function
  • Greater tolerance for completing a wrist strengthening program
  • Better quality of life

When & How Often Should I Exercise Wrists?

In general, wrist exercise is beneficial to complete on a daily basis to promote blood flow and better wrist function. Stretches and range of motion are most beneficial first thing in the morning to decrease stiffness, in addition to any time of day that you experience more wrist pain. They can also be done before or after an exercise program that isn’t specifically related to the wrist. As long as you tune into your symptoms and don’t force any motions, you will significantly benefit from a regular exercise program for the wrist.

Taking Precautions

The anatomy of the wrist is complicated, including more than 10 bones, 20 tendons, neural pathways for the hands in a very small space. Thus, it’s important to understand the root cause of your wrist pain and minimize overuse. Seek medical advice from a physical therapist or orthopedic physician if you experience nerve symptoms such as tingling, wrist pain that affects your sleep, or if pain becomes severe and debilitating.



Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT
Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT

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