Removing wrist pain during pilates and exercise

11.02.19 by Glen Danbury

Many people come into pilates to strengthen their back, their shoulders or many other parts of their body due to previous injury. Often, I find many people do not make the progress they are seeking due to wrist pain during many exercises when supporting yourself is required to work the desired area of the body.

Do you find yourself not pushing as hard during planks, pikes and other supportive type exercises due to wrist pain and the sense your wrists are weak? You are not alone but the good news is often a few simple things can improve the strength of your wrists and allow you to get more out of your exercises.

Typically wrist pain occurs due to three reasons

  • Improper technique
  • Inflexible wrists
  • Weak muscles that support and control movement through the wrist.

Occasionally there are underlying medical reasons for why your wrists may hurt but for those of you who experience wrist pain and do not have any clear reason for pain through the wrists the three simple steps below will help. For those of you with a diagnosed reason for wrist pain you may require slightly different options and you’re welcome to speak to me to work out a plan specifically for your situation – but even if this is the case the first reason below will still apply to you and can go a long way to eradicating pain in the wrists.

Improper technique

Minor differences in how you hold the footbar can work wonders to stop pain during the exercise. See the two images below which show an improper technique versus a preferred technique.

The image on the left shows the wrist going into extension and pressure being applied to the structure of the wrist due to two issues – the bar is being held closer to the fingers and secondly the bar has the thumb wrapped around the bar opposing the fingers.

The first issue is easily remedied by having the bar closer to the wrist on the pad at the base of the thumb, this will bring the wrist into a neutral position and take pain off the wrist. By having the thumb on the same side as the fingers you create space for the bar to go closer to the  wrist and in the desired area explained above, if the thumb wraps around the bar the bar is forced to go further down the hand closer to the fingers and will have no choice but to extend the wrist.


This change in how you perform the exercise alone can have a massive impact on how the exercise feels and creating a more stable wrist.

Inflexible wrists

Your body senses any sensation pushing you close to your end range of flexibility as pain and whilst we try to avoid extension by adopting the technique above occasionally you might find yourself going into extension. The more flexibility you have through the wrists the greater your reserve for going into extension before experiencing this sensation.

A simple stretch for increasing wrist extension can be seen in the second image below, this will slowly increase the range of motion you can take your wrists through. Holding a position with mild discomfort at your furthest point of stretching for thirty seconds each day can improve your wrist flexibility.

Weak wrists

As said above we aim to keep the wrist in a neutral position and its strength which accompanies this. If you have weak wrists you need to strengthen them! The key is to find an exercise which allows your to put enough pressure on the wrist without experiencing pain and slowly challenging the wrist flexor muscles as you get stronger.

Start off kneeling in front of a wall and place your hands shoulder width apart so the palm is on the wall and the wrist is bent, allow just enough of your bodyweight to lean on the wrist structure to perform the movement without pain. From here straighten the wrist out so your finger tips are the only point touching the wall, slowly lower back until palms are on the wall again and repeat ten to fifteen times. As it becomes easier to do, lean more of your bodyweight forward in order to keep the ten to fifteen times challenging.

Wrist pain is common but its not difficult to eradicate with some focused attention.


Glen Danbury, Personal Trainer and Masters in Nutrition

For a half price pilates technique session with me at the St Albans studio please enquire below.


All services are provided by instructors on a self-employed basis.

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