You can do several things to avoid wrist pain while doing the handstand. The first one is working on the strength of the upper body and mobility of the wrist joint. Then to further support the wrist, use wrist wraps and perform handstands on hard surfaces only.
Why Do You Feel Wrist Pain During Handstands?
1. Lack of Wrist Mobility
When doing a handstand, your wrist has to stand at a 90-degree angle throughout almost the entire movement. With that said, if you’re not naturally able to bend your wrist at that angle and you lack the range of motion in that joint, then you shouldn’t be putting more weight on top of it. By attempting to hold your entire body upside down, resting at a 90-degree angle on a wrist that lacks the mobility to stay that way, you’re, in a way forcing the joint to a position that it’s not ready for. In the end, that might result in you tearing a ligament or a tendon. And that’s something that you likely want to avoid.
That’s why before making any more handstand attempts, you should test your wrist’s mobility by flexing and extending it. If you find a hard time reaching a 90-degree angle, then you should spend some time working on the mobility of the wrist joint before getting back to handstands.
2. You’re Not Warming Up
Almost all athletes I know hate warming up, and many of them (while young) tend to skip that vital step of the workout. However, without a proper warm-up, the chances of potential injuries rapidly increase, and this particularly applies to handstands and other more complex, multijoint exercises.
If you get into the gym and directly try to get into a handstand position, then you’re making a huge mistake that could result in wrist pain. It’s crucial to take the time and warm up the wrist joints before trying to do a handstand. You can find many simple warm-ups online, and most of them take less than five minutes to do. However, those five minutes might be what makes the difference between getting injured and not.
3. Lack of Wrist Strength
The handstand is a difficult exercise, even for people who have been training for years and have sufficient experience working out. Unfortunately, most people assume that the best way to learn handstands is by doing them constantly, and even though repetition is necessary, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it.
Unless you’ve already done gymnastics, your wrists will not be used to spending that much time with so much weight on top of them. Remember, we usually use the feet and legs to bear our entire body weight, so our upper body is not prepared to take on that task so quickly. Along with that, even if you have sufficient upper body strength, likely, you haven’t spent all that much time working your forearms, which play a vital role during this exercise.
That’s why our advice is always to start slowly - do some warm-up exercises, work on improving your strength, and do easier handstand variations that will allow you to build the necessary muscles over time. And always remember to be patient - the connective tissues also take time to adapt to your new way of training and the demand you’re putting on them.
How to Support Your Wrists During Handstand
Avoid Soft Surfaces
People who are just beginning to try handstands prefer to do so on a soft surface like a carpet. And while that might seem like a good idea (after all, it’s better to fall on something soft), in reality, a soft surface might exacerbate a range of motion deficiencies and thus lead to pain and potential injury.
When you do a handstand on a mat or on a carpet, your wrist will start sinking into the surface as you put your body weight on top of it. And as it does, it will force your joint to extend more than it has to. For people who already lack wrist mobility, this will make the exercise even harder, and it will increase the chances of injured tendons and ligaments.
Having said that, we know that standing on hard surfaces is scarier; however, it’s a lot better for your wrists. It allows them to remain in a natural position, and if you have sufficient mobility, you will not be overloading the joint.
Use Wrist Wraps
Getting a high-quality pair of durable wrist wraps is another way to make your wrists feel supported while doing handstands. Make sure to wrap them just tightly enough so that you feel supported, but not so tight that it makes your blood circulation stop, as that might lead to your hands tingling and further injuries.
The good thing about using wrist wraps is that they will help you avoid overextending your wrist and will keep it flexed to a degree at which it feels comfortable, which means you won’t be causing further damage to the joint.
Here, it’s key to choose a quality pair of wrist wraps to get, not only because they will last much longer but also because they have to be just elastic enough to both provide support and allow free movement of the joint. Our recommendation is to go for the Warm Body Cold Mind wrist wraps, as they’re made to be durable, ultra-supportive, and can be used for all the other workouts you want to do, including Olympic weightlifting and fitness.
How do you prepare your wrist for a handstand?
It would be better to ask how to strengthen wrists for handstands and how to improve the wrist joint’s mobility. Those are the two main things you must work on- strengthening the upper body and working on the mobility of the wrist joint. And, of course, don’t forget to warm up before each training session.
How often should I practice handstands?
You should practice as much as you can without overloading the muscles and the joints. If you’re a beginner, that would be 1-3 times per week, and as you get more advanced, you can start to practice 4-5 per week, and after a while, you can start training handstands every day.
Can handstands give you carpal tunnel?
Unfortunately, it can. All the exercises that require from athletes to put their body weight or even simply to put more pressure on the wrists can lead to the median nerve getting damaged, inflamed, or irritated, which is a condition known as carpal tunnel.
Handstands are one of the coolest exercises you can learn to do. However, they’re also one of the hardest, especially for people who’ve never done gymnastics in their lives. Unfortunately, because of that, people who perform them with poor technique or without the needed strength and mobility can get easily injured. Having said that, in this article, we gave you all the reasons why your wrist might hurt during handstands and how you can avoid that from occurring in just a few simple ways. Now, if any of you have dealt with wrist pain before, please share with us in comments what helped you heal and how you’re supporting your wrists now to avoid new injuries.
- 5 Joint Mobility Exercises to Improve Flexibility and Function // Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/joint-mobility-exercises
My name is Ihor and I have been a professional weightlifter since 1996. With over 20 years of competition experience, my resume includes European Champion in 2009 and the silver medalist at 2011's Senior World Championships – 105kg division.
I competed at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
After hanging up my own competitive lifting shoes, I decided to share my huge background as a coach. I am currently coaching multiple athletes who are competing at national and international competitions.