I’ve been thinking a lot about my wrists recently, this is partly because at the back end of last year I had an arthritic flare-up in my joints. It happens every now and then and is the reason why I gave up running and started Nordic walking. Yes I know I didn’t tell you, because it didn’t stop me from Nordic walking. I was actually at my best then as everything was being gently mobilised, but it has made me take stock of how best to look after my joints going forwards.
I’ve covered lots of angles on how we can protect our joints - nutrition, stress, strength, stretches, plus looked at how the big hormonal changes us women go through can affect us. It has been an interesting journey and I have learned a great deal. In particular I wanted to share with you how I now look after my wrists.
Nordic walking is great for our wrists because it is a load bearing and bone strengthening exercise. However wrists are delicate things and we usually only move our wrists along one plane of motion when Nordic walking – forwards and backwards (the sagittal plane). So it’s important to load the wrist in other directions, and if like me you Nordic walk a lot, incorporate wrist stretches into your daily routine. Here are a few technique points to remember, plus some wrist exercises I now try to incorporate into my day:
- Keep your wrist firm and straight during the push phase. This is the time that most pressure travels through your wrist, so make sure you keep it firm and don’t allow it to flex as you push through the pole (see photo above).
- Consider how you use your strap. You can either power through the heel of your hand or through the section of the strap that runs between your thumb and forefinger. The latter is closer to the pole handle and so places less stress on the wrist joint.
- Squeezing and releasing the pole handle as you close and open your hand is good for strengthening both your wrists and fingers if you do it actively enough, much like squeezing a tennis or stress ball.
- Don't forget wrist stretches for improving flexibility. Just like your other muscles, wrists need stretching to maintain flexibility and keep them feeling good. Click here to see a short video of me explaining a few stretches to our Blaise walkers. There are lots of other stretches too and I like ones that both stretch and strengthen at the same time (such as a kneeling forearm stretch). If you’re interested in more stretches for your arms and wrists I can highly recommend The Anatomy of Stretching by Brad Walker for clear explanations and helpful pictures.
Finally, if your wrists do feel sore on any given day then go gently when Nordic walking and don’t push too hard through the strap.