Pull-ups are one of the hardest exercises out there, but they’re also incredibly rewarding.
Nothing beats the feeling of finally getting your chin over the bar after weeks or months of practice.
But, with great reward often comes great pain…
And in the case of pull-ups, that pain can manifest in your wrists.
As someone who’s been doing pull-ups for years, I know first-hand how frustrating wrist pain can be.
I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to focus on improving your form or adding more reps when your wrists are throbbing like heck!
But the good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent and treat wrist pain from pull-ups.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the common causes of wrist pain during pull-ups, as well as some strategies for avoiding it altogether.
What Causes Wrist Pain From Pull-Ups?
There are muscles that work to move your wrist called your wrist flexors and wrist extensors.
Your wrist flexors are responsible for moving the palm of your hand towards your forearms. If these muscles are tight or holding tension, you could feel a “pulling” pain in and around your wrist.
Your wrist extensors are responsible for moving the back of your hand towards your forearms. If these muscles are tight or holding tension, you could feel pain and discomfort on the top side of your wrist.
Tightness in any muscles surrounding your wrists can cause pain in the area.
This may be mistaken for wrist pain or it could be that the tight muscles are placing added stress on your wrists.
Weak Muscles And Joints
If the muscles near your wrist are weak, this can cause the joint to be placed under greater stress than it’s used to which can lead to pain and discomfort.
You may also have some weakness in your wrist itself which, again, can cause you some pain during pull-ups.
When you experience pain or discomfort during any exercise, a lot of the time, it will be down to your technique being incorrect.
You may only be making a tiny mistake in the technique, but even this can be enough to cause pain where you shouldn’t be feeling it.
Another possibility of wrist pain from pull-ups is if you have an injury.
Any severe pain should be looked at by a medical professional to ensure you haven’t done any serious damage that can have long-term impacts on you and your training.
Overuse or Repetitive Strain
If you’re doing a lot of pull-ups or other exercises that put strain on your wrists, you may be experiencing overuse or repetitive strain injuries.
This can cause pain, inflammation, and discomfort in the wrists.
To avoid this, make sure you’re giving your wrists enough rest between workouts, and try not to do too many reps at once.
How Common Is Wrist Pain From Pull-Ups?
If you’re experiencing wrist pain from pull-ups, you’re definitely not alone. In fact, it’s a pretty common problem, especially for people who are new to the exercise or who have weak wrists.
I’ve personally experienced wrist pain from pull-ups in the past, and I know plenty of other people who have too.
But just how common is wrist pain from pull-ups?
It’s hard to say exactly how many people experience wrist pain from pull-ups, since not everyone who experiences pain seeks medical attention or talks about it.
However, it’s safe to say that it’s a relatively common issue.
In my own experience, I’ve seen a lot of people at the gym rubbing their wrists after doing pull-ups, and I’ve talked to many people who have mentioned experiencing pain or discomfort in their wrists while doing the exercise.
That being said, just because wrist pain is common doesn’t mean it’s something you should just ignore or accept as a normal part of doing pull-ups.
It’s important to listen to your body and address any pain or discomfort you’re experiencing, whether that means adjusting your technique, taking a break from pull-ups to allow your wrists to rest, or seeking medical attention if the pain persists.
How To Prevent Wrist Pain During Pull-Ups
If you don’t prepare your body for exercise properly, you can quite quickly find yourself in pain or discomfort.
By warming up the working muscles and joints, your body will be better prepared for the intensity level your workout will bring.
Your risk of injury and pain is greatly reduced if your body is thoroughly warmed up.
Use The Correct Technique
Technique is one of the most important elements of any exercise.
Getting the technique wrong can put your body out of position and put you at a much greater risk of injury.
If you’re feeling wrist pain during pull-ups, stop and reset to ensure your positioning and technique are correct before continuing.
Strengthen your wrists
If you have weak wrists, you may be more prone to experiencing pain during pull-ups.
To strengthen your wrists, try doing exercises like wrist curls or farmer’s walks with dumbbells. You can also use wrist wraps or grip strengtheners to help support your wrists during the exercise.
Take breaks and rest
It’s important to give your body time to rest and recover after a workout.
If you’re experiencing wrist pain during pull-ups, take a break from the exercise for a few days and focus on other exercises that don’t put as much strain on your wrists.
I’m a big fan of using ice or heat therapy to help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
How To Treat Wrist Pain From Pull-Ups
If you’re already experiencing wrist pain from pull-ups, don’t worry – there are ways to treat it and prevent it from getting worse.
Here are some tips that have worked for me:
Rest and Ice
Resting your wrists and applying ice can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
Make sure to rest your wrists for a few days after experiencing pain, and apply ice for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
Stretch and Massage
Stretching and massaging your wrists can also help relieve pain and promote healing.
Try doing some gentle wrist stretches and using a foam roller or massage ball to work out any tightness or knots in your muscles.
Take Over-The-Counter Pain Medication
If your pain is more severe, you may want to take over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Just be sure to follow the recommended dosage and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
Use Wrist Supports
Using wrist supports like wraps or braces can also help alleviate pain and provide extra support during pull-ups.
Make sure you use them properly and avoid relying on them too heavily, as this can weaken your wrists over time.
Seek Medical Attention If Needed
If your pain persists or becomes severe, it’s important to seek medical attention.
Your doctor may recommend physical therapy or other treatments to help alleviate your pain and prevent further injury.
Are Pull-Ups Bad For Your Wrists?
In very basic terms, no, pull-ups aren’t bad for your wrists.
That doesn’t mean that they can’t cause wrist pain.
It’s just that there’s usually an underlying issue related to your pull-ups that’s the true cause of any pain or discomfort felt.
A simple example of this is a poor technique that puts your wrists out of alignment which results in pain.
Obviously, this isn’t the only reason why you may feel pain in your wrists but it’s certainly one of them.
Pull-ups involve a pretty complex movement but they’re a reasonably safe exercise.
As your body weight is used as resistance, there isn’t too much additional stress placed on the working muscles and joints.
Some pull-up related issues can lead to wrist pain but, as a general rule, they aren’t bad for your wrists.
Should You Still Do Pull-Ups If You Get Sore Wrists?
Like many fitness questions, the answer to this is maybe.
Ultimately, it’ll depend on what’s causing your sore wrists as to whether you should still do pull-ups or not.
For example, if your wrist pain is caused by an injury, then it’s probably best to wait until it’s fully healed before continuing with pull-ups.
However, if your pain is due to weak wrists, then pull-ups might actually help add some strength to the muscles around your wrist, which could end up reducing your pain.
If you’re unsure whether you should be doing pull-ups or not, speak to a medical professional who’ll be able to offer you the best advice and guidance.
Do Pull-Ups Strengthen Your Wrists?
Yes, in a way, pull-ups can strengthen your wrists.
It’s worth mentioning again though that your wrists aren’t muscles but rather joints.
This is important to remember when thinking about strengthening them, as you’ll actually be strengthening the muscles around your wrists, rather than your wrists themselves.
As pull-ups can help develop strength in your forearms muscles (and several others), this can add some strength to your wrist joints.
The stronger the muscles surrounding the joint get, the stronger the joint should be too.
Pull-ups are a great muscle-building exercise and they can, if done correctly, help to add strength to your wrists too.
- Wrist pain during and after pull-ups is usually a sign that you haven’t sufficiently warmed up. Other reasons include using a poor technique and injury.
- Warming up properly and using the correct technique is the best way to prevent sore wrists from pull-ups.
- Pull-ups aren’t necessarily bad for your wrists and they can even help strengthen your wrist joints and the muscles around your wrists.
Hope this helped!
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.