The Hand & Wrist Pains Of Gymming
Have you ever heard of the saying “you’re only one bad rep away from a serious gym injury”?
Whether it is doing one more rep of intense heavy weight-lifting or even adding on another weight plate to their barbell, many gym-goers pursue the benefits of their efforts in working out. However, considering the fundamental dangers of the exercises themselves, such as lifting weights that your body weight and the strains, it is no surprise that many may still forget their form or fail to protect their wrists as well as hands. Hence, they tend to be more at risk of wrist sprains or wrist ligament injuries.
The most common injuries seen by hand specialists in Singapore are wrist sprains or wrist and finger ligament injuries. It is advisable to contact your hand specialist for treatment immediately if you notice a sudden onset of pain or suspect that you have sustained an injury to your hands and wrists at the gym. In some people, the pain may be more gradual in onset that becomes persistent over time. Here, we share some of the common types of hand and wrist injuries sustained by gym-goers.
1. Wrist Sprains
Wrist sprains happen when you tear any of the ligaments in your wrist. This injury tends to happen when you use weights that are too heavy for your bicep curls. For instance, when doing bicep curls your wrists should always remain in a locked position for the entire rep. If you notice that your wrists are bent at any point in time of this workout, it may mean that you are using too much weight.
In most cases, if you have sprained your wrist, you would feel a sharp pain immediately. Furthermore, you may also notice that there is swelling in the affected wrist.
Even though wrist sprains can bench you for a while, the good news is that most minor-to-moderate wrist sprains can heal on their own. Apart from resting and icing your sprained wrist, you can also elevate it or put on a wrist splint. However, it is always best to consult your hand or wrist specialist in Singapore for a proper assessment to rule out any more serious injuries.
2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Turn your palm toward you and make a fist with your hand, and you will be able to see some of your tendons. Our hand consists of nine tendons that run down the wrist to create the carpal tunnel. In the middle of this tunnel is the median nerve that runs from your forearm to your thumb and most of your fingers. Our tendons are surrounded by a lining known as the tenosynovium, and when this lining thickens it can compress the media nerve to cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
According to research, your workouts are unlikely to cause carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). However, if you are predisposed to CTS, consistently bending or flexing your wrists while working out can further aggravate the median nerve compression, resulting in exacerbation of your symptoms. For people who go to spin classes regularly and have CTS, it is recommended to always keep your wrists neutral while riding as opposed to hyper-extending it.
Most hand specialists in Singapore may also advise patients with CTS to cut back on exercises that put strain on your wrist. Such exercises include planks or downward dog, and even push ups. Instead, you can try adding a folded towel beneath your hands for comfort, or simply modify your exercises.
3. Wrist and Finger Ligament Injuries
Acute injuries often result in sudden onset pain, and are usually caused by falling on an outstretched hand, a sudden bend or twist to the wrist, and traumatic injury. While these injuries can cause fractures, ligament injuries tend to be more common instead. These are some of the common ligament injuries sustained by gym-goers.
- Scapholunate Injury
A ligament refers to a thick band of tissue connecting two bones. Our wrist is made up of many ligaments, and when one of them is injured, it is referred to as a sprain. A very common ligament injured in a sprain wrist is the scapholunate ligament.
The scapholunate ligament usually tears when a lot of stress is put on the wrist. One such common cause is a fall onto the hand. However in gym-goers, their scapholunate ligament is often injured when the wrist is bent backward or into an unusual position – e.g. rotating their wrists instead of lifting their arms while doing a clean and jerk.
A wrist with an injured scapholunate ligament is often swollen and painful; the pain is especially felt when performing certain actions. Other symptoms also include limited range of motion, bruising, and even weakness in the wrist. Most people tend to feel pain and swelling right after their injury, however some may persist and worsen over time.
- Thumb Sprains
A sprained thumb occurs when the ligaments supporting the thumb get stretched beyond their limits or tear. This is usually caused by a strong force bending the thumb backwards, away from the palm of the hand. This can happen during boxing sessions, when you do not wrap your fingers properly. The force that you use to hit the punching bag may result in your thumb bending backwards.
Most thumb sprains involve the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), located on the inside of your knuckle joint. A tear to this ligament often results in pain and may result in your thumb feeling unstable. This weakens your ability to grasp objects between your thumb and index finger.
Just like all mild wrist sprains, the early treatment is ice therapy to help reduce swelling. However, it is advisable to see a hand specialist or doctor in Singapore if pain and swelling persists after 48 hours. In most moderate sprain cases, your hand specialist will probably immobilise your affected joints with a bandage or splint until it heals. On the other hand, in certain severe cases, surgery may be needed to restore the stability of your joints to help you regain function.
Ultimately, not only is good form crucial for avoiding injuries, it is also important to understand your bodies and know your limits. Don’t let wrist injuries stop you from achieving your fitness goals. Reach out to our hand specialist, Dr Jacqueline, at Advanced Hand Centre today to find out about the treatment options available for your condition.