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I do Crossfit for about two months, during these two months, we have tried as many techniques as possible, like deadlift, snatches, clean and jerk, power clean and thruster.

Ever since I tried thruster and push press, I have pain in the both wrists, usually inside my wrists, it amplifies if I lift weights on my shoulders (so my wrist makes a 90° angle with my forearm) like push press or thruster (max. weight 30kg/66 lbs) also in clean and jerk only in jerk part, although I have no pain while doing deadlifts.

We do always extensive warm-ups, I've already discussed it with my coach, he suggests me to put an empty barbell on my forearm after training and massage it for a while, it actually helped a lot.

I know for a fact that I have very weak wrists, I love weight lifting part so I don't want to stop practicing it.

I'm not quite sure if the pain goes away after a period of time or I need to take action and working on my wrist now. I'm not looking for medical advice here, but rather wrist-strengthening exercise that usually weightlifters do. I've heard that this problem is quite popular among new weightlifters so even if someone can tell me from experience then I'll appreciate it.

I tried wrist supports, they actually helped, but my coach suggested to put them away and let my wrist to have natural movements.

I've checked with my doctor finally (about two weeks after I posted this question here), she told me that I overloaded my wrist muscles and those on my forearm. She suggested of course rest, exercises mentioned bellow in the answers and putting some ice right after workout. And avoid working out the injury. Meanwhile I have to ask my coach to give me exercises which target other muscles in my forearm. I even asked her about carpal tunnel syndrome, as someone suggested here in the comments, she didn't rule out the possibly of I having it, but the chances are very little in my case.

Update 12 October, The combination of wrist band and proper wrist position together with wrist strengthening exercises actually helped a lot. I've got rid of the pain. Although there is still some leftover pain.

  • It's an educated guess: You may very well have carpal tunnel syndrome. DO NOT continue with weight lifting and avoid any exercise in which wrists are involved: pushups, etc. To be sure what is wrong and how to fix it, ask a doctor; who can perform some manual tests and give you a proper diagnosis for a start. It's not massage that helps, but REST (of the wrists). – Jan Aug 24 at 15:53
  • @Jan I did gymnastic for a about 20 years, and before starting Crossfit I used to do tons of pushups and yoga exercises, but never had such a problem. I don't know anything about medical science at all, but I checked the signs of carpal tunnel syndrome, I don't have tingling, weakness or numbness in my hand at all. – Sam Farjamirad Aug 24 at 17:21
  • @JohnP Apparently I wasn't clear before, I don't ask for medial advice here, I edited my question. – Sam Farjamirad Aug 25 at 15:55
  • This question is actually on-topic. See my answer in comment. @JohnP Don't be so damn "politically correct" to rule out medical-related questions. – Tomas Aug 25 at 18:55
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    Holding the bar incorrectly on the push press (grip should be same as overhead press) will put stress on the wrists instead of the bones of the forearm. Similarly, on a clean, the anterior delts should be supporting the weight. The fingers should be in contact with the bar, but not load bearing. – Frank Aug 25 at 20:44
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TL;DR: Try using proper wrist position, check your form, lift for technique, don't overwork an injury.


My wrists started hurting when I started weightlifting (about eleven months ago) during bench press and overhead press. I got myself some wrist wraps in the beginning and they helped keep my wrists in the proper position. About two months ago I stopped using them and instead continued doing the lifts with the proper form I had learnt and I haven't had any pain. My wrists and grip strength have strengthened simply as a by-product of doing the workouts.

1. Wrist Position

The first thing I found was that I was doing the very novice thing and not keeping my wrists straight. When I was doing the overhead press, the bar sat closer toward the fingers and I let my wrist bend back to make a 90° between the top of my hand and my forearm (similar to the first of the three images below). During the push, you should aim to keep your wrist straight. If you push the bar with the form in the first picture, it strains your wrist

Wrist Positioning

[1] Wrist Position via https://www.themusclemaster.com/

If you are using wrist wraps it should be very difficult to bend your wrist. If you can still bend your wrist 90° when wearing the wraps they are likely too low on your forearm or not tight enough. This might be why your coach advised against it. During the rack, your wrists are usually bent.

2. Technique vs. Weight

Having just started weightlifting I really wanted to go heavy. I emphasized the weight I was lifting over the proper technique to lift the weight. I've since dialled back much of my weight and strive to do the sets with 100% proper form. I find that it works my muscles more and I hurt less the next day.

The technique in Crossfit is very important. There are a lot of small nuances that beginners (myself included) don't key into. My advice would be to get your coach to check your form the next class you have and see if there are any improvements you can make. Look at things like elbow position, shoulder and wrist flexibility, and of course your wrist positioning.

3. Final thoughts

Working out shouldn't hurt and I was dumb when I started. Pain beyond muscle fatigue is usually a sign of bad technique or injury. If you have injured yourself, let it rest and don't be foolish. If you continue to workout with an injury you only risk hurting it more. As @Tomas said in his answer, there are other workouts you can do if you must.

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I had this problem too. Let it rest. I also didn't want to stop training, I had a big momentum, so I bought wrist hooks for deadlift, to be able to keep training and go around the wrist injury, but other people were more sane and they told me just to stop lifting for some time. "There is so much other exercise you can do in the meantime (legs, abdomen etc.)" they said. Very true :-)

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    for future readers, this is a very good tip, rest and try abdominal excersices actually helps. I tried the both together with the tips in the selected answer those are all effective. – Sam Farjamirad Sep 7 at 0:31
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Maybe you can add some wrist-specific strength exercises at the end of your workouts?

For example, there are wrist curls, but also finger curls, or farmer's walks.

There's also a very nice video that describes a whole routine.

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    I've found a website that actually describes the exercises, you mentioned, I tried them, but it takes time to see the effect. Thank you anyway. – Sam Farjamirad Aug 29 at 20:51
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    I find this answer useful, my coaches said about the same thing, after practicing the exercises mentioned in the answer I can do better than i used to do in the past. – Sam Farjamirad Sep 7 at 0:36
  • @SamFarjamirad could you share what weights you used for the wrist exercise and other weight lifting, to get a reference point? – Robert Schwarz Sep 8 at 16:14
  • Sure, I already mentioned how much do I lift during main exercises in my question max. weight 30kg/66 lbs, and for the wrist strengthening exercises I use a dumbbell of 1.5 kg about 3.3 lbs. I tired it with 3kg/6.6 lbs but I prefer to work it now (I'm still injured) with 1.5 kg. Maybe I'll weight more in the future. But I try to keep the question here updated and active. – Sam Farjamirad Sep 8 at 17:05
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    Thanks. For reference, I'm using a 7kg EZ curl bar for the (rev.) wrist curl, to get started, using both hands. For the finger curl, it seems much easier for me, and I can already do 30kg on a barbell, which is similar to my OHP ;-/ – Robert Schwarz Sep 9 at 7:43
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I have occasional flare ups of discomfort in my wrists as well, here's what I have found:

carpal tunnel syndrome
If you suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome you can try to test this using Phalen's test. To do this place the back of both hands together in front of your chest with your fingers pointing down. Maintain pressure through the back of your hands squeezing them together for 1 minute, if you experience tingling or numbness in your fingers at the end of this you may have carpal tunnel. Note carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve problem, not a muscular problem.

tendonitis
Tendonitis is the inflammation of tendons. As you gain muscle and increase your strength its good to note that muscles build much faster than tendons and yet your tendons are what anchor your muscles to your joints. Your tendons will naturally strengthen over time as you train, but when they are causing discomfort try to do simple wrist stretching in both flexing up and down as well as side to side. This can help to relieve some discomfort.

  • I've never experienced tingeling or numbness, my doctor ruled out the possibility of me having the syndrome, I did what you described, but still nothing, however I feel extreem weakness in my fingers so I can't summon strength to weight after lifting heavy or lifting light but increasing the reps. – Sam Farjamirad Oct 11 at 20:29

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