Acrobats spend much of their training upside down, which mean their body-weight is usually resting on their wrists! ADTA students are taught to lift up and out of their shoulders/back to reduce pressure on their wrist joints. However, with the Winter break coming up, you might find that some students will come back to class and start experiencing sore wrists.
The wrist is a strong but vulnerable joint that connects our forearms to our hands. Various ligaments connect the radius and ulna bones of the forearm to eight smaller carpel bones in the hand to make up the wrist.
This environment of bones and ligaments allow for flexion, extension, radial deviation (the action of bending the wrist towards the thumb), and ulnar deviation (the action of bending the wrist towards the little finger).
The ability to move the wrist multiple ways is essential when executing Acro tricks: the wrist is a key ‘player’ in an acrobat’s movement.
As with any training regime, taking a prolonged break will result in weakened muscles – wrists are no exception!
Here are a few suggestions to assist your students who may be dealing with sore wrists after a summer or winter break:
1. Strengthen the wrists. Many exercises can be utilized to build stronger muscles surrounding the wrists, complimenting the work being done in ADTA’s Set Technique Warm-ups. The straight curl, reverse curl and the hammer curl are just a few examples:
- To perform a straight curl, hold small dumbbell weights and rest your forearms on your thighs, palm facing upwards. Flex/curl your wrist upwards then slowly return to resting positing.
- To perform a reverse curl, rest your forearms on your thighs with your palms facing down three to four inches from the knee. Extend/curl the wrist upward and return to resting position.
- To perform a hammer curl, hold two small dumbbell weights with your forearms on your thighs, with your thumbs facing upwards. Lift and return your wrist in a ‘hammering’ motion.
2. Stretch the wrists. Wrists are bent at a 90 degree angle during most Acrobatic tricks. Therefore, a deficiency in wrist flexibility can hinder an Acrobat’s abilities. Ensure you are taking time for wrist stretching at the beginning of each class.
3. Tape the wrists. Tape is a great tool for creating extra wrist support, especially after a prolonged break from training. Place the wrist in a 90 degree position and wrap it with athletic or hockey tape, ensuring that the tape extends a few inches above and below the joint. Ensure that the tape is tight, but not so tight that it limits movement or blood flow.
While we want our dancers to work hard, we never want them to be working through pain.
Maintaining and improving our wrist strength and flexibility requires patient, consistent, and targeted work.
Take some extra time after any break from Acro Dance training to focus on wrist maintenance and discuss sore wrist solutions with your students, so that they can jump back into the season strongly, safely, and pain free!