I often get asked what can be done to improve wrist strength, especially in clients with current and previous forearm and hand injuries. My response is usually not what they expect as many want to hear various forms of wrist curls and extensions with dumbbells. But the truth is grip strength can improve with many other very important exercises such as deadlifts, pull ups, and front squats.
Deadlifts are going to improve hip strength by recruiting hamstrings and glutes. It is a key exercise but in order to continuously get stronger with deadlifts you must have the grip strength to match it. Usually athletes fail on PR’s in deadlifts because their grip strength gives out first. I recommend incorporating heavy farmer carries into your workouts and plate holds to help with this grip strength.
Pull ups are also important and require a decent amount of grip strength. So while improving your upper body and core strength you are also simultaneously improving grip strength.
The other key to increasing forearm and grip strength is also having mobility. Forearm flexors tend to get tight and overworked while bowling so it is important to stretch and release the forearm flexor group while activating and strengthening the extensors. You will know if your flexors are tight if you try to do front squats and struggle to achieve and maintain a front rack position with a barbell without your wrist hurting. Pain in that position is usually a mobility issue and you should stretch the wrist flexors frequently against the ground. You can also activate the extensor muscles by taking a rubber band and weaving it between each finger and opening up your hand against it.
For serious and continuous pain with any of these exercises be sure to consult a physical therapist as treatment may be necessary. These things should not be of difficult to perform with a healthy forearm and hand!
About Heather –
Heather D’Errico MS, CSCS, CFSC, LMT
Heather began BowlFit in 2013 with the hope to provide awareness to bowlers about how crucial training off the lanes truly is. She has been an avid bowler her entire life competing as a collegiate bowler for Robert Morris University, assistant coaching at the University of Central Missouri, and now head coaches at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, NY.
She obtained a master’s degree in kinesiology with an emphasis on exercise science and interned with the head strength coach at UCM. She became a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) through NSCA shortly after graduation and began coaching athletes at Next Level Strength and Conditioning in Fairport, NY.
In October 2015 she received her certified functional strength coach certification and then went back to school in July 2016 for massage therapy. She is now a licensed massage therapist and runs a business called Restorative Bodywork in Rochester, NY that specializes in movement therapy and sports massage.
Heather has also been competing on the PWBA tour the last 3 seasons and continues to use her experiences as a competitive and professional bowler to create programs for bowlers. She enjoys the challenges of making programs specific to each bowler as every person needs to focus on different areas for their performance goals. With that said her training motto is “do no harm” and believes each program should most importantly make a bowler FEEL better and play with minimal injuries/pain.