How to Prevent Wrist Pain During Burpees

Are you having trouble pumping out those burpees during your Workout of the Day because of nagging wrist pain? If you are, then you’re in the right place. In this article you’ll learn:

  1. How this wrist pain is holding you back
  2. Why you have wrist pain during burpees and what you need to fix it
  3. 3 Action Steps you need to take TODAY to get rid of the pain and stop further damage

Wrist pain during burpees, as you have experienced, can be a huge setback whether you’re trying to get in an effective cardio workout, push through the casual Crossfit WOD, or compete in CrossFit. It’s important to note that if you aren’t already, you will soon compensate for this pain. You will learn to work around it, favoring another part of the body. This is where bad form and habits can be developed, that may lead to injury elsewhere in the body. If you are a casual exerciser or CrossFitter, not being able to do burpees will slow down your cardio workout, not allowing you to beat previous records or meet your fitness goals as fast as you would otherwise. Competitive CrossFitters, without a pain-free burpee, you won’t be able to plow through the grueling workouts that the Open may throw at you. Remember the Open WOD 13.1?

Proceed through the sequence below completing as many reps as possible in 17 minutes of: 40 Burpees 75 pound Snatch, 30 reps 30 Burpees 135 pound Snatch, 30 reps 20 Burpees 165 pound Snatch, 30 reps 10 burpees 210 pound Snatch, as many reps as possible

That’s a lot of burpees…

But before we get started, here’s a list of injuries that you may or may not have.

Here are some common injuries that you should watch out for:

Wrist Sprain – This can be caused by hitting, twisting, or falling on your wrist. If the pain only comes when you move your wrist, and you’re certain your wrist isn’t broken, you might have wrist sprain.

Wrist Tendonitis – If you’re pain comes during or after multiple reps of burpees, you may have wrist tendonitis. Overuse and Overload are both common causes of tendonitis. (These can both be due to “weak point”, and can be fixed by strengthening and stretching of the correct muscles.)

Broken Wrist – If you twisted, hit, or fell on your wrist, and the shape of it has changed, you’ll want get it checked right away. It may be broken.

Sometimes, a lack of mobility and flexibility in upper body can cause wrist pain, but chances are, you have one of the first two injuries. If you have a wrist sprain, there are certain modifications you can make to your exercises, as well as some different tools and braces you can use to relieve the pain temporarily. If your have wrist tendonitis, there’s a lot you can do to sometimes completely remove the pain. You’ll want to work on strengthening and stretching the right muscles, improving your form in exercises, and reducing inflammation (eating correctly, using anti inflammatories).

So let’s look at one potential cause for your pain. Your form during the burpee exercise.

While the burpee is a very complex movement involving the entire body, it can be broken down into simple steps so that we can locate the cause of your wrist pain.  By seeing this exercise in steps, you may be able to figure out for yourself exactly where the pain is coming from.

Step 1: Start in An Upright, Standing Position


Step 2: Crouch (Perform a Quarter-Squat)


Step 3: Shift Weight Forward

How you position your hands, elbows, and shoulders during this step can make a big difference in the pain you feel (since a lot of pressure is placed there)


Step 4: Kick Your Feet Back Into A Pushup Position*

If you’re unable to hold your wrists at the range of motion shown below without pain, you most likely have mobility issues and one of the wrist injuries listed above.

*Note – You can go to a knees on the ground position (shown below) OR a complete pushup where the knees aren’t touching the ground


Step 5: Drive Your Hips and Bring Legs Back To Crouch Position


Step 6: Rise to Triple Extension (Ankles, Knees, and Hips) and Clap Overhead


If you’re unable to reach the full range of motion required of the upper body in step 4 pain free, then the odds are against you – you most likely have an injury or a mobility/flexibility issue. For the meantime, there are some modifications that can be made to your form that will remove some of the pain, and allow you time to take care of the underlying issues. Stay tuned for future articles where you can learn how to finally remove some of that pain, and finally get rid of it for good!

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