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Are Pull-Ups Bad For Your Wrists? (Explained For Beginners)

While pull-ups are great at muscle and strength building, there’s a slight question about how good pull-ups are for your wrists.

There are people who experience wrist issues during or after pull-ups, so it’s a good idea to discuss why this could be happening.

In this article, we look at whether pull-ups are bad for your wrists or whether there could be other things happening that could cause discomfort in your wrists.

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 usually 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.

Why Do Some People Get Wrist Pain During Pull-Ups?

Tight Muscles

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.

Incorrect Technique

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.

Injury

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.

How To Reduce Wrist Pain During Pull-Ups

Properly Warm-up

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.

Why Do Some People Get Wrist Pain After Pull-Ups?

Muscle Tearing And Recovering

After exercise, your muscles may feel slightly uncomfortable due to the microscopic tears that form during the movements.

The muscle tears and their subsequent recovery after pull-ups can cause mild discomfort. 

While your wrists won’t tear during pull-ups (they are a joint as opposed to a muscle), the muscles surrounding your wrists may be uncomfortable which can make your wrists feel like they’re in pain.

If the pain you are feeling in your wrists after pull-ups is very mild, it could be completely normal.

However, anything more than mild discomfort should be looked at by a doctor to rule out a potentially more serious issue.

Injury

Wrist pain after pull-ups could be an indication that you’ve picked up an injury.

When done correctly, pull-ups are a pretty safe exercise but things can still go wrong.

If you’re experiencing a lot of wrist pain then it’ll likely be a good idea to stop exercising until any injury has healed.

If the pain is proving to be quite substantial, then medical attention should be sought to find out exactly what’s wrong and the best course of treatment to get you on the road to recovery.

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.

Sources

Wrist Flexors And Extensors