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story.lead_photo.caption ACE certified trainer and Group fitness instructor Destanee Hall does the Hip-Up exercise. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY)

Living an active lifestyle creates an inherent risk for musculoskeletal injuries. Obviously the health benefits far outweigh this risk, but it's worth discussing some of the more common injuries in order to better prepare to avoid and/or rehabilitate them when they do occur.

This week, I'll focus specifically on hand and wrist injuries, as these nasty annoyances tend to creep in at the most inopportune times. Plus, I'll introduce an exercise that eliminates the hand and wrist while effectively challenging the core.

Think about everything we ask our hands to do during a given workout. They pick up heavy dumbbells, medicine balls, and weight plates. They grasp barbells, support our body weight, and provide the link between strength machines and our upper body. The hands and wrists are such a critical component of the kinetic chain, it's inevitable that they will become injured at some point.

The key is to understand how to minimize the risk for hand and wrist injuries, and then having the wherewithal to care for injuries if they occur. Rehabilitation is a complex topic for another day, so I'll focus on prevention.

Preventing hand injuries during strength training is actually a lot easier than it sounds. There are so many varieties of every type of exercise that it's possible to perform complete workouts in a way that poses minimal risk for hand injury. The first key to hand/wrist injury prevention is maintaining a neutral wrist position whenever possible.

The wrist can be flexed (palm moves toward the body) and extended (palm moves away from the body), or neutral. During the flexed and extended positions, additional pressure is placed on the ligaments and tendons in the wrist, particularly under heavy resistance. When this occurs, the risk for injury increases as the amount of resistance increases. This is particularly true when an exerciser applies uneven resistance.

My advice is to maintain a neutral wrist position whenever possible, and it's usually achievable without altering the type of exercise performed. For example, a pushup can be performed with the wrist extended (most common) and the palms flat on the floor. This places significant pressure on the wrist during the exercise. It's easy to modify the traditional pushup to accommodate a neutral wrist position by simply grabbing a pair of dumbbells. Rather than placing the palms on the floor, grasp the dumbbells and get into the normal pushup position. Then perform the exercise normally without bending the wrists.

This type of modification can be done with all sorts of exercises ranging from a chest press to a pullup. It's an easy way to reduce injury risk, and you'll probably even find a few variations of exercises that feel better than the original. This week's exercise is a good example of another injury prevention tactic, avoidance. The Hip-Up takes the hand and wrist completely out of the exercise, so it's perfect for those who may be experiencing hand or wrist discomfort.

1. Lie on your right side on an exercise mat.

2. Place your right forearm on the mat and extend your legs fully. The side of your right foot and your entire right leg should be in contact with the mat to start.

3. Place your left hand on your hip.

4. From here, raise your hips up so that your body is in a straight line from your neck to your feet.

5. Hold this position for 2 seconds, then slowly lower the hips back down.

6. Perform 12 repetitions on the right side, then switch sides and repeat.

The hip up is a nice core exercise that really challenges the obliques without requiring any twisting or even a single piece of equipment. For those who don't enjoy the hand or wrist pressure of medicine balls or abdominal machines, it's a perfect way to build core strength at zero risk or discomfort. Enjoy!

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Style on 06/17/2019

Print Headline: Hand or wrist discomfort avoided with Hip-Up

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