By Dr. Jon Sebby, D.C., ART Provider
The elbow, wrist, and hand are some of the more neglected parts of the body. We demand a lot of them on a day-to-day basis. Most exercise and fitness programs give very little, if any, attention to the mobility and strength of these areas. When problems do arise, they tend to be less debilitating and it is common that people put off addressing the issue, thinking that it will get better on its own. More often than not, these chronic conditions will progressively get worse and harder to treat.
Weightlifting – The Rack Position and Grip Strength and Endurance
In weightlifting, the rack position can be one of the more difficult positions to achieve. Some of the best exercises for developing strength and power utilize this position. However, even some of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the world will forego cleans and modify the front squat. The reasoning is because a majority of people have difficulty achieving the rack position. These coaches simply avoid programming these lifts in order to decrease injuries related to them. After all, the best strength coaches work to mitigate injuries.
While much attention is paid to shoulder mobility and core strength, very rarely are the wrist and forearms addressed. Most lifters who attempt getting into the rack position are quick to point out the “intense” wrist pain. This does not happen due to “tight shoulders” or a “weak core” but most often to tight wrist flexors being forced to lengthen a great deal by a loaded barbell.
Apart from rack position, adhesions and tight forearm flexors oftentimes lead to early fatigue on lifts that involve gripping (i.e. pullups, farmer carries, and deadlifts). A common finding, after a series of treatments and continued mobility work, is that athletes are better able to stay on the pull up bar for longer without having to re-grip (ex. CrossFit’s Fran workout).
Wrist and Hand Mobility Screen to determine if you have tight forearms
Double Extension Test
Start by resting the right forearm against a wall with the elbow at a right angle. Then, with your other hand, gently pull the palm of the right hand back. The angle of the forearm and palm of the hand should reach 90 degrees (right angle) without any pain or discomfort. For the second part of the test, pull your fingers (minus the thumb) back as far as you can. Stop if there is any pain. Your wrist should be at a 90 degree angle to your forearm and your fingers should extend an extra 45-60 degrees from your hand. Make note of the range and perform again on the left side.
For More Information
If you experience pain during either part of the test or are unable to pass the full test, we recommend setting up an appointment with one of our Doctors CONTACT US