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I play Dance Dance Revolution and similar games to exercise. On especially difficult levels, I lean back and grab the bar behind me, putting some of my weight on it and on my arms and wrists, to be able to move more quickly while expending less energy. After having done this for a few weeks, my wrists are starting to ache.

This is what it looks like when I use the bar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZC-q9qY3Uw (That's not me in the video, but that is the posture I use.)

There are three ways I believe using the bar stresses my wrists:

  1. Of course, putting much of my weight on my arm for a couple minutes at a time while moving around a lot probably strains my wrists, especially if my wrists are bent backwards like in the video.
  2. I often switch from holding the bar to not using it in the middle of a song. In order to avoid disrupting my combo while transitioning, I push myself off the bar with my arms so I get off of it as quickly as possible. I've noticed that this often hurts my wrists a little more intensely as I transition.
  3. Likewise, when I first grab the bar in the middle of a song, I usually try to grab it as quickly as possible and might be dropping all of my weight right onto my wrists during the transition.

How can I use the bar and still transition onto and off of it quickly during play without damaging my wrists? Is there a certain posture I should be using or a particular way I should be positioning my weight on my wrists? Are there exercises I can do to increase my wrist strength so that they're less likely to be injured?

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    Dagnabbed bar-huggers... :) Just kidding. I put an answer below. – Sean Duggan Apr 4 '17 at 14:21
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One of the central fundamentals of exercise is that the best way to get good at something is to do it repeatedly in a safe manner. You've already isolated three aspects that you can work on.

Building wrist strength and flexibility

First, you'll want to build up static hold strength. This is simple. Find a bar at about the right height, put your arms behind you grabbing the bar, and bend your knees, transmitting weight into your wrists. Hold it as long as you can, then gently push yourself back up. Once you're comfortable with a static hold for a decent amount of time, start to experiment by being more off-center, shifting left and right as you might when trying to hit the buttons with your feet, but do it under control rather than the flailing that you might do while dancing. You will also want to drop your weight further than you actually would while dancing because training for more extreme cases makes it easier to do the more moderate ones (and helps prepare you for a situation where you lose your footing and drop further than you intend). I would also advise doing some exercises on the floor where you hold yourself backwards on all fours, wrists turned the direction you'd have them turned on the bar, and holding it for several seconds. This will further help in building strength and flexibility in your wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

Practice pushing off

As before, hands on the bar, drop your weight. But here, don't drop it quite as far. Now, you drill pushing off into a standing position with your weight neutral and centered. Doing this repeatedly will help build the muscles that you need for doing it mid-dance. Doing it under controlled circumstances lets you do so safely.

Practice pushing back into the bar

I would not advise starting out by dropping back toward the bar because if you miss, you could injure yourself. Instead, reach back for the bar, lightly touch it, then lean back in a controlled manner. As you get more comfortable, you can experiment with leaning back before reaching out for the bar, but start out with the easier and safer exercise.

  • This advice sounds great! I'll try it out over the next couple of weeks. – Kevin - Reinstate Monica Apr 4 '17 at 17:06

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