Get a Grip: Exercises to Help Release Tight Muscles and Improve Mobility

Wrist, forearm, and/or elbow pain is incredibly uncomfortable and can interfere with everyday life and the ability to work and play. Activities like carpentry, painting, cooking, golf, fishing, tennis, gardening, kayaking, pickleball, paddle boarding, weightlifting, canoeing, zip lining, … all require the need to hold on and repetitive movement. Grip and repetition are often the two main factors in wrist, forearm, and/or elbow pain.

Pain, tenderness, redness, or swelling in an area above or below the joint indicates the body is experiencing stress. The first step to reduce pain is to cease or reduce the movement that causes pain and rest. If the movement pattern is necessary for work, adjust arm movements as best as possible.

Ice and compression for no more than 10 minutes repeated several times each day may help reduce inflammation or pain. If several weeks of rest have not helped pain subside, you should consult a physician.

Once pain and inflammation has subsided or your doctor has cleared you for activity, you can begin gentle exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles, tendon, and ligaments of the region to minimize reoccurrence.

The below series of stretches and exercise may help release tight muscles, improve mobility, and strengthen the joints and muscles of the wrists and elbows.

6 Stretches to Help Improve Mobility

1. Wrist & Forearm Stretch
woman stretching arm and wrist
  1. stretch the affected arm out in front of you, with your palm facing downwards
  2. using the other hand, gently pull the fingers back towards the body
  3. hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds
  4. straighten the wrist again
  5. rest if needed
  6. repeat 5 times
  7. do 2-3x/day


2. Wrist Extensor Flex Stretch
woman stretching arm and wrist
  1. stretch the affected arm out in front of you, with your palm facing upwards
  2. relax your wrist, allowing your hand to rest and fall back
  3. using your other hand, pull the affected hand back and towards your body
  4. hold the stretch for about 30 seconds
  5. rest for about 30 seconds
  6. repeat 5 times
  7. do 2-3x/day


3. Sock, Ball or Fist Squeeze
woman stretching by squeezing a ball
  1. put a sock or tennis ball in your palm, or, make a fist
  2. grip the ball or towel with the fingers to form a fist
  3. squeeze tightly for 10 seconds
  4. repeat 10x


4. Towel Twist
woman stretching by twisting towel
  1. hold a loosely rolled-up towel lengthways, with one hand at each end
  2. relax shoulders as you extend your arms away from your body
  3. twist the towel by moving the hands in opposite directions, as if wringing out water
  4. repeat 10x
  5. repeat 10x, twisting the towel in the reverse direction


5. Wrist Lift, Palm Up
woman stretching by lifting dumbbell
woman stretching by lifting dumbbell
  1. bend the elbow at a right angle
  2. extend the hand outwards, palm facing up
  3. twist the wrist around gradually, until the palm is facing down
  4. hold the position for 5 seconds
  5. repeat 10x
  6. do 2-3x/day


6. Wrist Turn
woman stretching by twisting dumbbell
woman stretching by twisting dumbbell
  1. grip a light weight, ½ - 2 lb dumbbell
  2. bend the elbow at a right angle
  3. extend the hand outwards, palm facing up
  4. bend the wrist up towards the body.
  5. hold this position for 5 seconds, then release slowly
  6. repeat 5-10x
  7. do one or two more sets of 5-10 repetitions


Wrist and elbow issues can interfere with work performance, prevent you from caring for others, and dramatically reduce your ability to participate in all activities involving grip.

Reducing the repetitive movement that causes pain, resting, and consulting a doctor if the pain does not subside are the first steps to moving pain free. Afterwards, a regular routine of stretching and strengthening will help minimize the possibility of reoccurrence so you can keep doing all the activities that make life fulfilling and enjoyable.




Information presented by W(h)ealth should not be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Consult a doctor and/or medical professional before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition.

Leave a Reply