Wrist Stretches for Muscle-up and Handstand Progress
Typically when someone reaches a plateau in their handstand or muscle-up development, they look for a fancy new drill or exercise in order to continue making progress again. For instance, muscle-ups require a strong false grip, a solid transition, and proficiency in the top support hold. When all of these items are in line, however, it is also very worthwhile to look to the simple, foundational pieces of the puzzle to make sure they are taken care of as well. In this case, we are talking about your wrists.
We have previously written about the importance of wrist health for Gymnastic Strength Training™, specifically about how when your wrists are your weakest link your progress might stall. Today we will detail how two particular wrist stretches can help improve your false grip position for muscle-ups and also your wrist extension position for handstands.
Wrist Extensor Stretch
First up, we will discuss how to stretch your wrist extensors, otherwise known as the back side of your forearms. These muscles, tendons, and ligaments can get extremely tight if, like most people, you spend a significant amount of time typing, texting, or driving throughout your day. Add to this fact that many people do not move their wrists through a full range of motion, and you have a formula for wrist tightness and possibly even injury. This wrist extensor stretch can help regain movement and relieve pain when done regularly
For this stretch, kneel on the floor and place the back of your hand down in front of your knees (palms up) and point your fingers away from you. The first step here is to try and straighten your elbows while also keeping your whole hand completely flat on the floor (see the athlete on the left in the image below). For many beginner level students, this is not initially possible and that's just fine! Find a nice stretch and rest assured that your elbows will get straighter over time. If locking your elbows is no problem, then keep them straight and lightly lean forward, bringing your shoulders in front of your wrists.
Keep it gentle and hold for 10s before releasing slowly.
In terms of muscle-up development, this stretch will pay huge dividends in your ability to hold onto the rings with a false grip. Remember that when working towards strict muscle-ups, maintaining a false grip (where your wrist joint sits on top of the rings, not below) is crucially important. Without a strong false grip, the chances are that when you pull-up on the rings, your transition will be non-existent. By stretching the back of your forearms with this stretch, your wrist flexors (the opposite side) will be able to express their strength much more easily.
Enjoy strong, healthy, mobile wrists thanks to the joint preparation in the GB Online Courses.
Wrist Flexor Stretch
Next is a stretch for your wrist flexors, or the underside of your forearms. This position will challenge your ability to bring your elbows and shoulders in front of your wrists. If you have been paying attention, this should remind you of many movements in GST™, most notably straddle planche progressions such as planche leans. Additionally, wrist flexion is an important piece of the puzzle for handstands, and if you are not able to comfortably flex your wrist joint, then you will ultimately reach a plateau when training press handstands and one-arm work.
The stretch is simple: kneeling on the floor, place your hands down flat in front of your knees, with your palms down and fingers facing towards you (see the athlete on the right in the image below). Keeping your entire palm down-especially the heel of your hand, gently lean backward, bringing your shoulders slightly behind your wrists. Easy does it here! Stop when you feel a light stretch through your wrist and forearm.
Hold for 10 seconds and release gently.
One worthwhile reminder here is to not treat your mobility work like your conditioning. Your wrists are comprised of tiny muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and as such, you cannot force them into positions if they are not ready for it. Exercise some caution and patience here, and it is much better to be consistent with your wrist stretches than to stretch them super hard only every now and then. Be careful to avoid injury here, as you are better off being able to train consistently rather than trying to "win the race" today.
GymnasticBodies wrist flexibility is essential not only for your GST progress but also for your general joint health and longevity, so start basic joint prehab now!