Exercises for Distal Radius Fractures

There are a lot of exercises you can do to strengthen your wrists.
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If you've broken your wrist, distal radius fracture recovery exercises are going to be key in your recovery. Your forearm is composed of two bones: the radius, which is the larger bone, and the ulna. These bones come together with your carpal bones in the hand to form the wrist joint.


About Distal Radius Fractures

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With a distal radius fracture, the end of the radius near the wrist suddenly breaks, as explained by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The culprit is typically some type of heavy force exerted upon the bone, often resulting from sport activity or a fall.

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Once the bone has been mended and the cast removed, distal radius fracture physical therapy can begin, as explained in an October 2016 case study published by the Manual Therapy, Posturology & Rehabilitation Journal. To prevent further injury, check with your doctor before beginning exercises after a wrist fracture.


Read more: How to Make Your Wrists and Forearms Bigger

Distal Radius Fracture Recovery Exercises

Distal radius fracture recovery exercises focus on improving range of motion and strength. Perform these exercises in a pain-free range to avoid further injury.

Move 1: Wrist Flexion and Extension


Flexion and extension are natural movements of the wrist that decrease and increase, respectively, the angle of the wrist joint in relation to the forearm. Since your wrist operates like a hinge, the joint should "swing" up and down.

  1. Rest your forearm stationary on a table and your hand hanging over the edge.
  2. Gently bend your wrist down until you feel a minor stretch.
  3. After five seconds, return to the starting position.
  4. Slowly bend your wrist upward until you feel another stretch.
  5. Hold for five seconds.
  6. Repeat 10 times in each direction.


Move 2: Wrist Deviations

The wrist joint is more than a simple hinge. It also has the ability to tip from side to side. This is the basis of the wrist deviation exercise.

  1. Rest your forearm on a table.
  2. Keeping your forearm still, tip your wrist, tilting your thumb toward your forearm.
  3. Hold for five seconds and return to the starting position.
  4. Tilt your hand to the opposite side, bringing the pinky side of your hand toward your forearm, and hold for five seconds.
  5. Perform three sets of 10 reps each.



Move 3: Grip Strengthening

Strengthening exercises are typically delayed for eight weeks after a wrist fracture due to distal radius fracture healing time. Perform gentle strengthening exercises to improve your grip as part of your distal radius fracture rehabilitation exercises.

  1. Squeeze a small rubber ball for five seconds, then relax.
  2. Repeat for several minutes, three times per day.


Read more: Normal Range of Motion of the Wrist

Move 4: Forearm Pronation and Supination

Pronation and supination movements rotate the forearm, so that the palm faces downward and then upward.

  1. With your arm resting next to your body, bend your elbow to 90 degrees.
  2. Keeping your elbow tight by your side, turn your hand into a palm up position.
  3. Hold for five seconds.
  4. Rotate your forearm into a palm-down position.
  5. Hold for five seconds.
  6. Perform three sets of 10 reps.


Move 5: Tendon Glides

After a wrist fracture, you might have difficulty making a fist. Although your fingers weren't injured, fingers can become stiff after wearing a cast and not being able to use your hand. Perform tendon gliding exercises recommended by Aurora Health Care.

  1. Begin with your fingers straight.
  2. Bend the small knuckles in your fingers while keeping your large knuckles straight.
  3. Straighten your fingers.
  4. Bend your large knuckles and middle knuckles while keeping the tips of your fingers straight.
  5. Straighten your fingers.
  6. Make a full fist.
  7. Straighten your fingers.
  8. Repeat 10 times.




Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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