I have been lifting weights for a long time and recently my wrists just started hurting. I have been doing more weight on my bench press and was wondering if this may be increasing the tension on my wrists. The thing is I don't really feel pain when I am benching, it is more when I am doing barbell curls. I was wondering if adding wrist curls into my workout would benefit me in any way. If you have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate it. I don't wanna have to take time off. Thanks in advance.
Wrist and Forearm Inspiration
Send in some video of you Benching and performing Barbell Curls so I can actually see what is going on. Seeing you in action can tell me a lot. Make sure you angle the camera so we can see what the upper body and wrists are doing. Until then, I will take a swing at what could be going on just from my own personal experiences.
Remember that increased weight on any given lift is more load and stress placed on the body. It's only a good thing if the body is ready for it. It doesn't matter if it is a Bench Press or a Barbell Curl. It has been in my experience that pain can stem from these four things in no specific order:
1. Lack of Strength
2. Poor Technique
4. Poor Programming
Lack of Strength is simple. You may be using a load or a certain amount of weight that is too much for you. The weight is just too heavy even if you can lift it. If you have your training structured around a main lift like the Bench Press (if it is your main lift then it should be the first lift performed on that training day) by the time you get to the end of your workout, you are going to be a lot weaker so you may need to kick back on the amount of weight you use for the Barbell Curls. You can still make progress with the Curls at lighter loads and you shouldn't be going to failure on an accessory lift such as that. Remember, "Slow and Steady Wins the Race".
Poor Technique could be the reason why you are feeling pain. A lot of guys I come across never keep a 'neutral' or 'close to neutral' wrist when performing Bicep Curls or Tricep Extensions. While performing lifts like these, it is important to maintain the wrist's integrity so you can keep any type of compensation down to a minimum. Simply put, next time you try to perform Curls, keep your wrists straight and squeeze the hell out of the bar. If you can't, then the weight is too heavy or you may not be squeezing the bar enough. If the grip is loose, then tighten it up so the wrists remain tight and flexed. This will lead to less unwanted movement in the wrist joint which can possibly decrease any pain you may be feeling.
Overuse symptoms such as pain, inflammation, mental staleness during training, physically becoming weaker in lifts and degressing opposed to progressing in training, weakened immune system which can lead to increased colds. These are all symptoms of overuse or overtraining. You may need to Deload and take a day, few days, or even a week off of training. Give the wrists a break. This is important so the body can rest and recover. Recovery is a huge role in progress and production in your training. Listen to your body. Your wrists may be at the point that nothing will help them other then some recovery time, time off.
Poor Programming is the case most of the time. Even in my own training because the Ego can sometimes be your worst enemy. More often then not, we want to train how we want to train despite the fact that it may not be good for us. Where a lot of people fail with putting together a good training program is their inability to include movements and exercises that will address the weak areas of their body. "You are Only as Strong as your Weakest Link". How many times have you heard this? I can not stand to repeat this phrase, but it's important! If your wrists are not strong enough to perform certain lifts correctly, then you need to attack this weakness and make it a strength, otherwise it will spill over into other areas of your training and hold you back. "Isolate to Integrate". Train the shit out of the grip and wrists with various weighted timed holds, holding barbells, dumbbells, barbell plate weight. Work on your crushing grip with Captains of Crush hand grippers. Keep your wrists straight while you perform this type of training. Work on wrist flexion! Wrist flexion as in Dumbbell, Barbell, Cable Wrist Curls. Incorporate Fat Bars for added grip work. 99% of the time, I see people's wrists hyperextended during bench pressing and bicep curls. Bring balance to the wrist and work on flexing the hell out of them! Take a look at the video below:
These are Standing Dumbbell Wrist curls. 3 sets of max reps with a weight heavy enough to complete at least 20 or more reps total. This is a great hand/wrist/forearm strengthener for athletes who may be experiencing a weak grip. Many indicators for a lack of hand/wrist strength can be pin pointed in training when you are unable to maintain a stable wrist during bench pressing, overhead pressing, bicep curls, etc. This is also a great counter exercise for those experiencing soreness in the elbows due from too much wrist and forearm extension. Increasing your strength in this exercise will have a positive effect on bat/racket speed, ball control (gripping a baseball, football, and basketball), punching, and anything else you can think of that involves the hand and forearm musculature. Try it out and let me know what you think.
A Side Note:
Certain lifts just never seem to work, but that does not mean you have to give up. That's why EZ Curl Bars were invented. Switch to an EZ Curl Bar to keep the Barbell Curls in your training. The bend in the bar will change the angle of the wrists a bit which may solve any type of wrist/elbow dilemma. Either that or stick with Dumbbells.
Another Side Note:
Some times it is really as simple as "If It Hurts, Then Don't Do It!"
If it moves, then it can be trained!