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My wrist / carpal tunnel tends to get rather angry with me during exercises like dumbbell flies. (Presumably because the weight is supported by just the palms than a stacked forearm, and is under the most tension at the bottom of the movement, whereas with say an EZ bar curl the pressure goes away there.)

I’ve started noticing this happening in incline curls lately - my hand and fingers start feeling numb, which I understand is a signal I’m doing something I shoudln’t be. Wrist wraps seem to fix this just like they do with flies, but off the top of my head I don’t know if incline curls are meant to be a variant that also engages the forearm - it’d be silly to do a forearm exercise and then remove those muscles from the equation.

Is this the case and I should switch from incline curls to something else doing their job for the biceps, and a separate forearm exercise with a smaller weight? (Or a powerball I suppose.)

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Incline DB curls target the biceps and other elbow flexors, while the wrist flexors have a comparatively minor role, acting isometrically to stabilise the wrist. Using wrist wraps would take some of that load off the wrist flexors, which shouldn't be a problem, as those aren't the muscles you are actually targeting with the exercise.

It's also worth noting that this wrist stabilisation role isn't specific to incline DB curls, and would occur just the same with standing DB curls. The main difference between incline and standing curls is that the incline curl puts maximum load on the bicep at an elbow joint angle of 45° whereas the standing curl puts maximum load on the bicep at an elbow joint angle of 90° (both occurring when the forearm is horizontal). Wrist demands will really only vary with different grips, i.e. supine vs ezy-curl vs hammer vs prone.

You might also find that wrist curls and reverse wrist with very light weights will help your carpal tunnel syndrome.

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  • Yeah I think the difference between incline and standing here is that, like with the flies, the arm spends more time in the “danger zone” so to speak. Standing curls are good at the start, bad going down, good at the bottom, bad going up, good at the end; with a moment of rest in “good”. Flies are good, meh, bad, meh, good; incline curls are more like good, bad, meh, bad, good; neither offering a relief for the wrist/forearm. Anyway, my takeaway here is there’s no reason to not use wraps to prevent this, and strenghten the wrist independently. – millimoose Oct 3 '20 at 14:46

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