Push-Up Variations to Avoid Wrist Pain

Wrist pain is a side effect of exercises that put a lot of weight on them, like push-ups. However, there are variations you can use to avoid this. Take a look!
Push-Up Variations to Avoid Wrist Pain

Last update: 23 August, 2021

Push-ups can really affect the wrists. In fact, the pain may be worse if your body isn’t in the right condition for certain practices. As a result, pain develops and this slows down any kind of progress you make. However, different push-up variations may provide a solution to wrist pain!

The basic exercise requires you to lie face down and support yourself on both the palms of your hands and the tips of your toes. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart.

Next, you need to lower yourself – without allowing your chest to touch the floor – and then raise yourself back up to your original position. However, there are several possible alternative options.

But it’s important to learn to identify the difference between wrist pain caused by poor movement, as a result of an injury, or arthritis, among other causes. As such, if the pain is a sign of a larger problem, it’s best that you don’t try these variations and you visit a doctor to get a diagnosis.

Long-term consequences

One of the long-term consequences of continuing to do push-ups if you feel pain is damage and tendon inflammation. Therefore, if you don’t treat this within a suitable amount of time, it may develop into chronic pain.

Additionally, this kind of exercise can cause permanent irritation in the wrist if you feel uncomfortable whilst you do it. Lastly, you may develop carpal tunnel syndrome if you don’t take appropriate action. This is where the median nerve is under excessive pressure.

Push-up variations

One of the ways you can do a push-up variation to avoid wrist pain is to change the position your body is in as you do the exercise. With that in mind, here are some changes you can make:

Standing up push-ups

Standing up push-ups are an effective way to reduce the pressure you put on your wrists. With this variant, you’re able to gradually build up how much your muscles are used before moving to a more demanding level. The first of the push-up variations we propose can be done by the following:

  • Stand 5 inches away from a flat wall.
  • Put both hands on the wall, wider than a shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your elbows until your chest is close to the wall.
  • Return to your original position without losing your momentum.
  • Do 2 series of 10 repetitions.
woman doing a push-up in gym clothing in a studio
The traditional way to do push-ups can hurt your wrists as that’s where you support the majority of your body weight.

Modified bench push-ups

You can start with a bench, wall, or any other stable object that sits about 15 inches from the ground. This variant allows you to reduce the incline of your body and so the wrists won’t be under as much pressure as normal.

You can do this in the following way:

  • Position yourself in front of a horizontal bench
  • Put both hands on the edge wider than a shoulder-width apart.
  • Without moving your hands, step back so that your arms are outstretched. Your feet should be in line with your shoulders.
  • Bend your elbows and lower yourself until your chest is about an inch away from the bench.
  • Hold this position for 2 seconds.
  • Push yourself back up to your original position.
  • Do 2 series of 8 repetitions.

Push-ups with static elbows

This is one of the most interesting push-up variations because it reduces the demand by increasing the reposition times. The only thing you need to do this is two gym bars or, if this isn’t possible, dumbbells.

You can do the exercise like this:

  • Position the gym bars wider than a shoulder-width apart.
  • Take a bar in each hand and extend your legs so you’re resting on the balls of your feet.
  • Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the highest part of the bars.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  • Return to your original position.
  • Do 2 series of 8 repetitions.

Variations of the exercise

You may find that you’re not able to manage the wear and tear that comes with doing push-ups. For that reason, it’s best to vary the exercise as you train.

This way, the muscles that push-ups use will get stronger, which will help you in the future.

TRX chest fly

As its name suggests, this exercise requires a TRX apparatus. The advantage here is that you can easily regulate the tension on the muscles.

Now, if you have everything you need and you want to get started, do the following:

  • Get yourself into a position so you’re looking out of the TRX. Your feet should be a shoulder-width apart.
  • With each hand on the grips, bring both arms forward.
  • Bring your body forward with a lunge step and open your arms. The angle between your torso and your arms should be 90 degrees; you should be in a “T” shape.
  • Return to your original position.
  • Do 2 series of 10 repetitions.

Slamball launch

This is a simple movement that requires a slamball and a regular wall so that it produces a comfortable bounce. To do this, you need to do the following:

  • Stand in front of a wall, about 20-25 inches away. As always, your feet should be a shoulder-width apart.
  • Strongly throw the ball from your chest at the wall.
  • Catch it on the rebound; allow your body to take the weight and repeat the movement.
  • Do between 8 and 10 throws.
two women in the gym with slam balls ready to launch
Using a slamball helps to strengthen your wrists and prevent future injuries.

Low plank

The low plank helps to work every muscle used in basic push-ups. However, the difference is that your wrists aren’t involved in this exercise.

To do this exercise, you need to do the following:

  • Set up an exercise mat in a clear area.
  • Lie face down, supporting yourself on your forearms. Behind you, your legs should be extended and you should support yourself on your toes.
  • Squeeze your core.
  • Hold this position for a while, between 25 and 30 seconds.
  • Repeat this 5 and 10 times, depending on how your body responds.

Advice to relieve wrist pain

In addition to the push-up variations that you can use to avoid wrist pain, you should also follow some advice in hopes to make the wrist pain more manageable until it completely heals. Among the alternatives, you can find the following:

  • Dedicate a few minutes to daily stretching.
  • Soak your wrists in warm water.
  • Allow your wrists to rest in an elevated position.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Alternate between hot and cold packs.

Proper techniques for push-up variations

Push-up variations can be a great solution to wrist pain. However, to avoid any pain, we recommend you pay attention to the proper techniques that can help strengthen the muscles in your forearms and your mobility through flexion extensions.

If, for whatever reason, your wrist pain takes a long time to heal, you must visit a doctor so that they’re able to determine whether there’s a more serious problem.

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