Why Do I Feel Bicep Curls In My Wrist? All The Answers To Get Back on Track
One of the most common questions we get asked is “Why do I feel bicep curls in my wrist?”
While there can be several reasons why this may be happening, it needs to be sorted out so you can exercise without the risk of pain and injury moving forward.
With a little adjustment of one or two things, you can get to the root of the problem…
Why Do I Feel Bicep Curls in My Wrist?
One of the most likely explanations is that you are overusing your wrist during bicep curls, especially if you are trying to curl too heavy a weight. When you perform a bicep curl, your wrist may be in a position of flexion, which means that it is bent towards you. This can put a lot of strain on the tendons and muscles in your wrist, which can eventually lead to pain and inflammation. One way to help alleviate this problem is to make sure that you are using proper form when performing bicep curls. Make sure that you keep your wrist in a neutral position (without any flexion or extension), and have the correct grip on the bar. You should also focus on keeping your elbows close to your body, which will help take some of the strain off of your wrists. If you are still having pain in your wrists after trying these tips, it might be time to see a doctor or Physical Therapist to see if there is a more serious problem going on. However, in most cases, wrist pain from bicep curls is nothing to worry about and can be easily resolved with a little bit of rest and some modification to your workout routine.
Are you going too heavy?
One of the most likely explanations is that you are overusing your wrist during bicep curls, especially if you are trying to curl a weight that’s too heavy for you.
When you perform a bicep curl, your wrist may be in a position of flexion, which means that it is bent towards you.
This can put a lot of strain on the tendons and muscles in your wrist, which can eventually lead to pain and inflammation.
When trying to lift something too heavy, your form will worsen and your body will compensate to get the job done.
Make sure you reduce the weight if you find yourself battling to do bicep curls correctly.
One way to help alleviate this problem is to make sure that you are using proper form when performing bicep curls.
Form is key
Make sure that you keep your wrist in a neutral position (without any flexion or extension), and have the correct grip on the bar.
This would normally translate to a grip that’s shoulder width apart, with your palms facing towards you while holding the bar, making sure the weight isn’t too heavy.
You should also focus on keeping your elbows close to your body.
If they are further forward it will put more strain on your forearms, wrist and back to try and hold the weight, as it’s further away from your body, it will feel heavier and problematic as the load isn’t correctly counterbalanced.
Keeping your elbows tight by your side, with your wrists neutral (straight) will help take some of the strain off of your wrists, forearms and back.
Flexion of wrist
Having any kind of flexion or extension in the wrist will cause issues when doing bicep curls or any other exercises, such as kettlebells for example.
You need to make sure your wrists are neutral (straight line) and you have a good grip on the bar.
This will give you the best chance of doing the exercise correctly, with good form and without any strain or issues.
If you have recently sprained your wrist, it may have an impact on how you hold a bar when attempting to curl with it.
Trying to train without the sprain or injury healing sufficiently can cause more problems and further damage.
Make sure you get plenty of rest, elevate your wrist and see a doctor if you are unsure.
If you have any kind of pre-existing wrist condition, this could also make bicep curls more difficult and cause wrist pain.
After an accident, it’s natural to want to resume exercising, but you must allow your injury time to heal completely or face additional time off.
The pain game
You may be experiencing wrist pain due to one of the following issues. Some are more serious than others, but it’s important to be informed about all possibilities.
Carpal tunnel syndrome – One of the more serious conditions that can cause wrist pain, although it’s not common, is carpal tunnel syndrome.
This is when the median nerve, which runs from your forearm to your hand, becomes compressed.
The symptoms include pain, tingling, weakness and numbness in the affected hand.
Wrist sprain – A wrist sprain is a common injury which can occur if you fall on an outstretched hand, or twist your wrist in an awkward position.
The symptoms include pain, swelling and tenderness.
Arthritis – Arthritis is a condition that can cause pain, stiffness and inflammation in the joints.
There are many different types of arthritis, but one of the most common is osteoarthritis, which can affect the hands and wrists.
The symptoms include pain, stiffness, inflammation and difficulty moving the affected joints.
Ganglion cyst – A ganglion cyst is a non-cancerous lump that can develop on the tendons or joints of the hand or wrist.
They are usually harmless but can be painful if they press on a nerve. The symptoms include a lump on the hand or wrist, pain and tenderness.
Tendonitis – Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon, which is the thick cord of tissue that connects muscle to bone.
It can occur in any tendon but is most common in the shoulders, elbows, wrists and knees.
The symptoms include pain, tenderness, swelling and difficulty moving the affected joint.
De Quervain’s disease – De Quervain’s disease is a condition that causes pain and swelling in the tendons around the thumb.
The symptoms include pain and tenderness when moving the thumb and wrist, swelling and a feeling of clicking or snapping in the thumb.
Dupuytren’s contracture – Dupuytren’s contracture is a condition that causes the formation of thickened bands of tissue in the hand that can pull one or more fingers into a bent position.
The symptoms include painless thickening of the skin on the palm and fingers and a feeling of numbness or tingling in the affected fingers.
Trigger finger – Trigger finger is a condition that causes the finger to catch or lock in a bent position.
The symptoms include pain and tenderness when moving the affected finger, a feeling of clicking or snapping, and the finger being locked in a bent position.
When to see a doctor – If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is important to see a doctor:
- Severe pain
- Difficulty moving the affected joint
- Numbness or tingling in the affected hand
- A feeling of clicking or snapping in the thumb
- A lump on the hand or wrist
Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex
(TFCC) tear – The TFCC is a triangular-shaped piece of cartilage that sits between the ulna (bone in the forearm) and the wrist.
It helps to stabilize the wrist and allows for smooth movement. A TFCC tear can occur due to an injury or overuse.
The symptoms include pain, swelling and tenderness on the ulnar side of the wrist (the side closest to the pinky finger), and a feeling of instability in the wrist.
What can I do about it?
If you are experiencing any type of wrist pain, it is important to see a doctor so that the cause can be diagnosed and treated accordingly.
There are many different treatments for wrist pain, depending on the cause.
Some common treatments include:
Rest – This is often the first line of treatment for wrist pain. It is important to rest the wrist and allow it to heal.
Ice – Applying ice to the affected area can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
Heat – Applying heat to the affected area can help to reduce stiffness and pain.
Anti-inflammatory medication – Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
Corticosteroid injections – These are a type of anti-inflammatory medication that can be injected directly into the affected area.
Physical therapy – A physical therapist can help to strengthen the muscles and tendons around the wrist, which can help to reduce pain.
Surgery – In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair a tear or remove a cyst.
If you are frequently doing bicep curls with heavy weights, you may be overtraining your biceps.
Not giving your arms enough time to recover in between workouts is a common mistake that can lead to overtraining.
When you think about the bicep curl movement, the wrists are by far the weakest link and are more than likely going to be taking the strain of the movement because of this.
Symptoms of overtraining include:
- Decreased performance
- Joint pain
- Muscle soreness
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to take a break from working out and allow your body to recover.
You can also try using lighter weights and doing more repetitions to avoid overtraining your biceps.
One of the most common causes of wrist pain during bicep curls is using a grip that is too narrow or too wide.
If you use a grip that is too narrow, you will put unnecessary strain on the tendons and muscles in your wrist, as well as feeling awkward and uncomfortable.
If you use a grip that is too wide, you will not be able to effectively work your biceps.
Also, how are you holding the bar in your hand?
If the bar is too close to your thumb, it will require you to grip harder to hold the bar, which will cause a strain over time, as you are effectively clawing at the bar with your fingers to grip it.
Make sure you are gripping the bar in your palm but closer to your fingers than your thumb.
As ever, I appreciate the fact we are all different and have varying ranges of motion, so find what feels comfortable to you.
Finally, don’t grip the bar as if your life depended on it either, as this will fatigue your forearms and wrists before your biceps even start to feel the burn.
Hold the bar with conviction, but not to the point your knuckles are white from holding it.
Not warming up?
If you are not properly warming up before working out, you are putting yourself at risk for injury.
A proper warm-up will increase your heart rate and blood flow to the muscles, as well as loosen up the joints.
It is important to warm-up for at least 5-10 minutes before working out.
A common mistake people make is thinking that they can just do a few light sets of bicep curls as a warm-up.
However, this is not enough to properly warm up the muscles and tendons in your wrists, which can lead to pain and injury.
Burnt out muscles doing other exercises?
If you are doing other exercises that require the use of your wrists, such as push-ups or pull-ups, you may be overworking the muscles and tendons in your wrists.
It is important to give your body a break from time to time, and this includes taking a break from exercises that use the same muscle groups.
Take at least 1-2 days off per week from any exercise that uses your wrists to allow your body to recover.
Maybe consider mixing up your routine to include other exercises that don’t use your wrists as much the day or so before you do bicep curls, such as leg exercises or upper body exercises that don’t require you to grip a barbell or dumbbell.
Switch to dumbbells?
If you are using a barbell for bicep curls and are experiencing wrist pain, you may want to try using dumbbells instead.
Dumbbells allow you to keep your wrists in a neutral position, as opposed to the flexed position that is required when using a barbell.
This will help to take the strain off of the muscles and tendons in your wrists and may help to alleviate pain.
Start with lighter weights and gradually increase the weight as you get used to the exercise.
Switching to dumbbells will also allow you to do curl variations, such as the hammer curl, which can help with your wrist due to the neutral grip (palms face each other), compared to a standard bicep curl that’s supinated (palms up) with a barbell or dumbbell.
Use an E-Z curl bar?
If you are still experiencing wrist pain when using dumbbells, you may want to try using an E-Z curl bar.
An E-Z curl bar is designed to keep your wrists in a neutral position, which will help to take the strain off of the muscles and tendons.
Try wrist straps?
If you are still experiencing wrist pain, you may want to try using wrist straps.
Wrist straps are designed to help take the strain off of your wrists by providing support.
They are especially helpful if you are using heavier weights and are struggling to keep your wrists in a neutral position.
Do not use wrist straps all the time, as this can lead to further muscle imbalances and injuries.
Use them only when necessary and gradually reduce your dependence on them as your muscles and tendons become stronger.
If you are experiencing wrist pain when performing bicep curls, it is important to take a break from the exercise and consult with a doctor or physical therapist to find the root cause of the problem.
Several different factors can contribute to wrist pain when performing bicep curls, such as using improper form, not warming up properly, overusing the muscles and tendons, and using too much weight.
There are several different ways to help alleviate wrist pain, such as using dumbbells, an E-Z curl bar, or wrist straps.
Hopefully, some of the tips above will help to alleviate your wrist pain and allow you to get back to your workouts!
Have you experienced wrist pain when doing bicep curls and how did you cure the problem? Let us know in the comments!