3 Wrist and Forearm Exercises To Increase Bone Strength

Exercise / November 28, 2019

When you think of osteoporotic fractures, which bones do you normally picture breaking? Most would say the hip, spine, or leg. But very few think of the forearm. And I think that’s a mistake.

After all, did you know osteoporotic fractures of the forearm are more common than spine and hip fractures? It’s true. And it turns out, most of those forearm fractures occur in the wrist. So it makes sense to focus more on the forearm and wrist with some effective ways to protect and strengthen them!

That’s why I’d like to share 3 wrist and forearm exercises that increase bone strength in that area. The following exercises not only increase muscle strength and range of motion but if you are someone who suffers from tennis elbow, like my mom, they are also very helpful.


Lateral Wrist Exercise

This exercise targets the wrist extensors and flexors. In doing so, the exercise helps to restore movement in your wrist, while also improving flexibility of the wrist muscles. And that’s good for anyone, not just for those worried about bone loss!

Bonus: if you have tennis elbow, you’ll definitely want to read this.

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, occurs when inflammation surrounds the outer side of the elbow. It’s simply caused by repetitive overuse of the wrist extensor muscles. These repetitive motions can cause lesions in muscle tissue. As the name suggests, tennis elbow is commonly caused by strain from playing tennis or other sports, but can also result from everyday work! Approximately 1% โ€“ 3% of the population suffers from tennis elbow.

This lateral wrist exercise is a lateral wrist flexion and extension that is a combination of a light warm-up, stretching, and exercise. It relieves pain from tennis elbow by actually creating a collagenous scar in the affected muscles. The tension from the wrist extensions creates new fibrous tissue to form, which protects the muscles from future damage.

Here’s how to perform the exercise:

  1. Begin standing with your arms out in front of you, palms facing down.
  2. Then bend your wrists forward and backward until you feel a light, pain-free stretch.
  3. Repeat 10 times on each arm.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Alternatively, you can also do this exercise seated with your forearm supported by a table. Your wrists and fingers should hang over the edge (you can also put a rolled up towel for padding underneath your forearm). Then bend your wrists forward and backward, just like the picture above. Advanced: you can also add a 1- or 2-lb. dumbbell for extra resistance (and benefit to your forearm).

Bone-healthy benefit: You’ll increase your flexibility at all ages. Increased flexibility improves your range of motion and protects your joints. As you may know, deteriorating joints can also impact bone health because the protective cartilage on the end of your bones wears down and the bones can rub together. That rubbing causes searing pain and can lead to osteoarthritis.

As we age, our joints can lose up to 50 percent of their range of motion! So incorporating this (and the other two) exercises will help combat that loss.


Seated Wrist Curl with Dumbbell

This seated wrist curl helps to develop your flexor muscles: Wrist flexors, supinators, pronators, and brachialis.

Start light with this exercise! Do not use heavy weight if you are just beginning or have a wrist injury. Wear a wrist wrap if you need the support.

Here’s how to perform the exercise:

  1. In a seated position on a Bosu ball or chair, place your forearm on your thigh with your palm facing upward.
  2. Using a 1- 5 lb hand weight (the weight should be just enough so you feel fatigued at the end of your set), flex your wrist upward.
  3. Focus on keeping your forearm well placed against your thigh for stability. You can also use your opposite hand and thigh as pictured.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

While you’re in between sets for your seated wrist curl, you can also add in the seated wrist reverse curls. This will target your extensor muscles. Here’s how to perform the seated wrist reverse curls:

  1. Start in the same seated position with your forearm on your thigh.
  2. But this time, your palm will face downward.
  3. Using your weight, extend your wrist upward fully.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

*Try not to lift your elbow from the thigh when extending your wrist. Keep your palm down.

Progression: Once these exercises are no longer a challenge, increase the weight by 1 pound and add an extra set too.

Bone-healthy benefit: These seated wrist curls can stimulate bone building by stressing your bones (in a positive way). Your bones crave weight-bearing exercise, which forces the bones to strengthen, just like muscles strengthen over time when they lift weights.

Here’s how it works. As you may know, osteoblasts are your “bone-building cells”. After they’ve done their bone-building, they “retire” from that phase of their life and turn into osteocytes. Osteocytes lie in your bones and send signals throughout your skeleton, like the bones’ version of a nervous system. These signals direct and balance the activity of current bone-building osteoblasts and bone-resorbing osteoclasts. This way, you keep your bone remodeling system in check, so you maintain a healthy amount of bone!

Meanwhile, exercise from weighted wrist curls ensures your osteocytes actively signal new osteoblasts (and muscle cells) to form. And research shows increased forearm muscle strength (from new muscle cells) is highly correlated with better bone density. So your forearm receives a consistent stream of new bone-building “recruits” to remain strong.


Tennis Ball Grip Strength

The Tennis Ball Grip Strength targets your wrist flexors and extensors.

Of course, you will need a tennis ball (you can also use something similar in size like a lacrosse ball or another ball with some “give” like I’m using below).

Here’s how to perform the exercise:

  1. Grasp the tennis ball in one hand while sitting or standing.
  2. Slowly squeeze it as hard as you can, and hold for 2-3 seconds.
  3. Slowly release your squeeze.
  4. Rest for 3 seconds and then repeat 10 times.
  5. Switch hands and repeat steps 1-4 above.
  6. Repeat twice on each hand (for 3 sets in total for each hand).

Progression: Once this exercise is no longer a challenge, add an extra set and increase your squeeze time by 1-2 seconds.

Bone-healthy benefit: As the name suggests, this is a great exercise to increase your grip strength. And handgrip strength is an indicator of potential fracture risk since it’s linked to fragility and increased likelihood to fall. In fact, some studies show those with weaker hand grip strength tend to have lower bone mass in the hip and the spine. Decreased grip strength indicates impaired muscle strength, and therefore diminished physical ability, which causes greater mortality risk in older people. The bottom line is, once your grip strength starts to weaken, it’s generally a sign of worse things to come.

All three of these wrist and forearm exercises should be performed 3x per week, provided they do not cause or increase pain. Check with your physiotherapist prior to beginning this workout regimen to see if these exercises are suitable for you.

As you’ve seen, these exercises are more than just forearm strengtheners. Each supports healthy bone density!


Tend To Your “Forgotten Bones”

When it comes to osteoporosis exercises, you don’t usually see much in terms of wrist or forearm exercises. That’s unfortunate, because grip strength and arm strength are good indicators of overall strength, and they play an important role in flexibility and range of motion.

Obviously, it’s important to strengthen the muscles in your spine and lower body, as they tend to be common bone density loss areas. But your wrists and forearms are critically important tooโ€” especially as you age. Why?

Because the chance of falling increases with age. And guess what we usually use to brace ourselves from the sudden impact? That’s right, your wrists and forearms. Your wrists and forearms absorb that initial impact, placing incredible pressure on those bones.

So, why not prepare them and ensure you’re safe, rather than sorry? And that’s where the three wrist and forearm exercises come in!

To amplify the effects of these exercises- and reduce any pain and inflammation including tennis elbow- you should rest, ice and take natural anti-inflammatories like Triple Power Omega 3 Fish Oil.

Once any visible swelling and pain has gone away, you can add in these helpful exercises.

I hope you’ll try these exercises at home. And please, let me know how they work for you, and how your pain (or even tennis elbow) improves!

Author: Monica Straith, BS

Comments
Roberta Schiller
Roberta Schiller

Extensor strengthening exercises for the forearm should be included in these exercises Roberta Schiller

Blaire AlgaeCal
Blaire AlgaeCal

Thank you for the input, Roberta!

We suggest performing wrist extension or pulling the back of palm closer to the forearm, for strengthening the wrist extensors such as extensor carpi radialis brevis and longus as well as extensor digitorum and extensor carpi ulnaris. You can perform variations of this by doing the same movement with a deviation towards the thumb or the pinky side of the hand. You can also make this harder by increasing the weight as Monica suggests ๐Ÿ™‚ This is demonstrated under the lateral wrist strengthening exercises because many of the extenors of the forearm are located on the outside, or lateral side, or the forearm and wrist.

– Blaire @ AlgaeCal

Tena
Tena

Are all carbonated beverages bad for bone health or just some?

Megan AlgaeCal
Megan AlgaeCal

Hi Tena, good question!

Look out for carbonated beverages with phosphoric acid – when phosphorus is consumed in excess, it can pull calcium from your bones. Beverages with lots of added sugar will also cause calcium to be excreted. You can learn more here.

Hope this helps! ๐Ÿ™‚

-Megan @ AlgaeCal

Lois
Lois

These are the forearm exercises I was doing for tennis elbow at Therapy, along with a cold pack on the affected area to help reduce inflammation afterwards if need be.

Megan AlgaeCal
Megan AlgaeCal

Happy to hear you’re familiar with these exercises, Lois!

Hoping your tennis elbow has improved โค๏ธ

-Megan @ AlgaeCal

Claire Zaehringer
Claire Zaehringer

Thank you for sharing these exercises. In addition, I use a hot spa to exercise in the water. If anyone has a hot tub, these same exercise can be done in the water.

Megan AlgaeCal
Megan AlgaeCal

Great idea, Claire!

Thanks for sharing – that’s a great way to add gentle resistance to exercises ๐Ÿ™‚

-Megan @ AlgaeCal

OT
OT

A couple points from a therapist…

– “lateral” exercise is side to side. The video shows flexion and extension. So possibly named incorrectly, or the video is making it look like flexion/ extension?

– Please don’t use a tennis ball. They are too firm. Balls don’t follow the natural arch of the hand. A softer ball (gel, putty, etc) that gives to fit the shape of your palm would be a better choice, or try foam, or a foam pillow.

Blaire AlgaeCal
Blaire AlgaeCal

Hi OT,

Thanks for reaching out!

When Monica says “lateral” she is talking about many of the muscles that cross over the lateral side of the wrist and move up to the outside bone of the humerus or the arm bone. We call this the lateral part of the bone because it is on the outside of the arm – it is actually called the “lateral epicondyle”. This is where a lot of the muscles on the outside and the back of the forearm originate from. There is a common tendon there called the “common extensor tendon” and this is where inflammation can occur when we say someone has “lateral epicondylitis” it literally means inflammation of the lateral epicondyle, or the tendons that attach here. So though the exercise shows moving the wrist in flexion and extension, the extension part of the exercise works on the lateral part of the humerus bone along with the same muscles that attach laterally on the wrist and this is what we mean we are working for this exercise ๐Ÿ™‚ I would agree with you that the physiological movement is flexion/extension of the wrist as we move through the saggital plane. We could also include radial and ulnar deviation to work the radialis and ulnaris mm too which we would then consider moving in the coronal plane. Supination and pronation would also be some great movements. I hope that helps and thanks for the clarification! Regarding the tennis ball vs putty, that is a fabulous point! If you have putty or foam, that would allow a better overall mold to the palm and may work greater muscles of the hand intrinsics. However, if someone does not have putty, a tennis ball is a great alternative to allow some isometric activity of the muscle in the hand and forearm that help us grip.

Thanks for the great suggestions!

– Blaire @ AlgaeCal

Julie
Julie

Hi there!
I love your products. I am 60 years young, and I broke a small bone in my foot 2 years ago. I began taking Algae Cal and Stronium together shortly afterwards and I really believe that it shortened my healing time.

Thank you for these wonderful products and the videos are great !

Blaire AlgaeCal
Blaire AlgaeCal

We are thrilled to hear that our products helped you, Julie!! Thank you for sharing, and for your kind words ๐Ÿ˜Š

– Blaire @ AlgaeCal

Jeane
Jeane

I have pins in my right wrist since a bad fall two years ago. I have no loss of flexibility, but is there any reason I shouldn’t do these exercises? Tried one, feels okay, but feels a little different (no pain) in my right wrist.

Blaire AlgaeCal
Blaire AlgaeCal

Hi Jeane,

Thank you for letting us know! Prior to the implementation of any exercise routine, we must advise a discussion with your doctor or a physical therapist regarding any limitations.

Feel free to give our Bone Health Consultants a call at 1-800-820-0184 if you have other questions โค๏ธ

– Blaire @ AlgaeCal

Jepa
Jepa

Bone Strength ??? such a nonsense …

Blaire AlgaeCal
Blaire AlgaeCal

Thanks for sharing your concern, Jepa. These exercises truly do increase bone strength in your wrist and forearm! Let us know if you have any questions, and we’d be happy to address them ๐Ÿ™‚

– Blaire @ AlgaeCal

maria pflug
maria pflug

Thank you for these exercises. I broke my left ulna in a freak accident and find them to be very valuable in strengthening my wrist. I had surgery 12 stitches and am working with a physical therapist. Trying to regain the strength in my hand and wrist.

Blaire AlgaeCal
Blaire AlgaeCal

We’re so glad to hear these exercises have helped you, Maria! Wishing you the very best in your recovery โค๏ธ

– Blaire @ AlgaeCal

Valerie
Valerie

Excellent exercises and so simple that can ve fine any time. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Bernadette Maria Di Madonna
Bernadette Maria Di Madonna

This product works! I’ve been using it for 6 years and along with the exercises, my bone strength has increased, WITHOUT medication.

Megan AlgaeCal
Megan AlgaeCal

This is news we love to hear, Bernadette!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

Congratulations and thank you for taking the time to share! โค๏ธ

-Megan @ AlgaeCal

Valerie
Valerie

Thanks so much! Have had an issue with this for too many years. Have had a lot of pt, acupuncture, manual therapy. Havenโ€™t been given any exercises in a long time . Will try these. I miss playing tennis.

Megan AlgaeCal
Megan AlgaeCal

Hoping these exercises help and that you’ll be able to play tennis again soon, Valerie! โค๏ธ

-Megan @ AlgaeCal

SherylAnn
SherylAnn

Reading about the importance of strengthening your wrist and forearm with exercises was very informative. I am constantly learning new and informative information about my bones. Itโ€™s amazing how algaecal works. After reading and watching the videos on algaecal, I finally bought me some today, so I am eager to get started!

Megan AlgaeCal
Megan AlgaeCal

Thanks for taking the time to share your story, SherylAnn! ๐Ÿ˜Š

If ever you have questions along your bone health journey, don’t hesitate to let us know – we’re here to support you along the way. ๐Ÿ’•

-Megan @ AlgaeCal

Shoshana
Shoshana

Happy to fine you, iโ€™am going todo all the exercises, thank so muchโค๏ธ

Megan AlgaeCal
Megan AlgaeCal

So glad you found us too, Shoshana!

Do give the exercises a try and let us know how you enjoy them ๐Ÿ˜€

-Megan @ AlgaeCal

Shirley
Shirley

So glad you sent these – I have bone spurs on both wrists and have been wondering what to do to help that (also have osteoporosis). I will definitely add these to my other exercises.

Blaire AlgaeCal
Blaire AlgaeCal

We’re sure happy to hear that you’re going to give these a try, Shirley! Let us know how it goes ๐Ÿ˜€

– Blaire @ AlgaeCal

Josephine Robinson
Josephine Robinson

I have been taking algaecal plus and Strontium Boost which has increased my bone density a little over the past year, and my doctor wants me to also take a bone drug once a week. What do you think? Is it compatible? Thanks for everything!

Megan AlgaeCal
Megan AlgaeCal

Hi Josephine, glad you reached out!

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on your bone density increase! After the age of 40, we tend to lose 1% of bone density each year – so turning this around and actually increasing your bone density is wonderful news! ๐Ÿ™‚

With regards to bone medications…we simply recommend taking our products at least 4 hours away from the bone drugs.

Hope this information helps and if you need any clarification or would like to chat about this, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-820-0184.

-Megan @ AlgaeCal

Carla Janzen
Carla Janzen

Thanks for the exercises. I really need them! I can use a weight in my right hand but because of arthritis in my left wrist I canโ€™t hold a weight, too painful.

Blaire AlgaeCal
Blaire AlgaeCal

It’s great that you’re going to try out these exercises, Carla! ๐Ÿ™‚

We’re sorry to hear about the pain you’re experiencing in your left wrist. We recommend targeting arthritic inflammation through exercise, sleep, an anti-inflammatory diet, and our very own natural anti-inflammatory: Triple Power Fish Oil! Triple Powerโ€™s formulation provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients, shown to help manage the pain and stiffness associated with arthritic conditions. You can learn more about arthritis and 5 natural remedies you can count on here

Hope that helps! โค๏ธ

– Blaire @ AlgaeCal

Patricia
Patricia

Hello, is it necessary to wait 2 hours after taking Algaecal Plus in the morning…to take my Triple Power Fish Oil? Iโ€™ve been taking it later in the morning with a snack, or at lunchtime. I also wait 2 hours before taking a vitamin B complex vitamin and a vitamin E. Thank you for all the important information you provide.

Megan AlgaeCal
Megan AlgaeCal

Hi Patricia, thanks for reaching out!

There’s actually no need to separate any of these from AlgaeCal Plus! No interactions between them. Hope this makes things a little easier! ๐Ÿ™‚

-Megan @ AlgaeCal

Mr. Marko Turner
Mr. Marko Turner

These are almost Too Obvious yet highly efficient sets of exercises – thanks. I need to constantly remind myself that simple can be better, and not to over complicate.

What do you recommend for Achilles tendonitis and strengthening lower leg limbs as well?

Megan AlgaeCal
Megan AlgaeCal

Hi Marko, glad you’re enjoying the exercises!

And yes – a lot of the times, simple is indeed better ๐Ÿ™‚ While we don’t have exercises specifically tailored to Achilles tendonitis, some of these foot strengthening exercises may be helpful for you. We also have some exercises here that can help strengthen your lower limbs.

Hope this helps and keep up the great work exercising!

-Megan @ AlgaeCal

Manya Ameri
Manya Ameri

I have carpal tunnel so what exercise can I safely do without aggravating this painful condition?

Jenna AlgaeCal
Jenna AlgaeCal

Hi Manya,

It’s best to check with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any wrist and forearm exercises to determine what’s right for you. Some other exercise options to consider can be found at this YouTube link.

– Jenna @ AlgaeCal

Denise
Denise

For the wrist exercises should this be done everyday? Thank you for the videos….

Sarah Cummings
Sarah Cummings

Thank you for also providing the videos! Really appreciate this article! ๐Ÿ™‚

Jenna AlgaeCal
Jenna AlgaeCal

So glad you enjoyed it, Sarah ๐Ÿ™‚

– Jenna @ AlgaeCal

Ann
Ann

Also, do the lateral wrist exercise holding weights to add strength in addition to flexibility and range of motion.

Monica
Monica

Yes, great point Ann!

– Monica @ AlgaeCal

M V Haynes
M V Haynes

Thank you! These are great for increasing strength.

Patricia
Patricia

Thanks of these… do them Daily?

You mention tennis elbow- are there exercises like this for shoulders? and legs?

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