Wrist pain: The A-B-Z's of exercise
Ulnar sided wrist pain is a common, with up to 10% of the general population experiencing pain at any given point in time. So what happens when you are in that 10%?
Let's start off this discussion by reminding you that if you are concerned about your wrist pain, have been experiencing any significant changes in your wrist, had a fall or other traumatic event that you should always seek medical advice from a trusted professional near you.
Once you've received an evaluation from a medical professional you should have some idea as to what the primary concerns or limitations are and what to do next. If you're in the majority of the population who experience wrist pain, you will likely not need invasive treatment or take significant time off from activities. Your primary care provider might have recommended a non-invasive splint such as the WristWidget® if a TFCC injury was suspected. Regardless of where you find yourself on the ulnar sided wrist pain spectrum, you need to take some time to identify what your current Point A is.
Point A is where you are at today. This can be thought of in a variety of ways. It includes variables such as your treatment protocol or diagnosis, your wrist functionality (think range of motion, grip strength and weight bearing tolerance) and your current concerns. Can you define your Point A?
Some questions that may help you define this:
- What is my diagnosis?
- What limitations do I currently have?
- What bothers me the most about my ulnar sided wrist pain?
- What has my healthcare provider told me to do? (or what not)
Now that you've somewhat defined Point A, it's time to think big. What are those activities, exercises or sports that you want to perform that's been limited by your wrist pain?
What's the point of thinking about things you can't do, you might wonder? Well, you need to have a goal to work towards to allow proper planning. This can be playing a 18-hole golf course again, picking up your grandchild or hitting a new overhead squat PR. Get the idea?
Once you've identified where you're going to, you've got your Point Z.
Between A and Z is where the fun is!
You don't get from A to Z in one big leap. You get there step by step, through adequate planning and consistency to commit to the road you've embarked on. It's important to not fall in the trap of comparing your journey to those of others, as every wrist pain journey is unique.
5 tips to successfully navigate the A-B-Z's
- Assess if you can participate in some shape or form of the activity on your Point Z that is feasible for where you are at in Point A?
- What gets measured gets done. Assess potential tests or assessments that you can use to help track your progress. (think of grip strength, weight bearing, strength in certain activities etc.)
- Use some form of autoregulation. Life throws curve balls at us every single day, so it is reasonable to allow your performance in exercise, sport or other activities to ebb and flow accordingly. Check out RPE for this! (more on this in another blogpost)
- Set short-term goals. What's between A and Z? Everything in between.
- Celebrate the small wins.
This is not an exhaustive list on the A-B-Z's of wrist pain and the recovery process, but I am hopeful it will provide you with a blueprint of some sort.