Forearm stretches include any exercise designed to increase flexibility or relieve tension in the muscles of the forearm and wrist. Individuals who are most likely to benefit from stretching this region of the lower arm are those who perform repetitive activities using the wrist and forearm. This may include anyone working at a computer as well as athletes whose sport necessitates a great deal of elbow and wrist movement, such as tennis players.
There are several major muscle groups running along the forearm between the wrist and elbow that see a lot of daily use and therefore may benefit from a regular stretching routine. Some are responsible for flexing and extending the fingers, such as the flexor and extensor digitorum muscles. Others flex and extend the wrist joint, such as the flexor and extensor carpi radialis muscles. Still others act to flex the elbow, such as the brachioradialis, while some muscles control pronation and supination, or rotating inward and outward, of the forearm. These are loosely known as the pronator and supinator muscles.
Of these major muscle groups, those that flex or curl the wrist and hand forward, those that extend the wrist backward, and those that pronate and supinate the arm may be most in need of forearm stretches. The muscles that curl the hand and wrist forward are often used for typing and manipulating a computer mouse. Stretches for these muscles can be performed while seated at one’s desk. To stretch these muscles one should extend the arm in front of the body with the palm up and grasp the hand with the other hand. She should then use the other hand to pull downward on the palm of the extended hand, bending the wrist backward and holding this position for at least 20 seconds.
Extensors of the hand and wrist are also used during typing and mouse use. These can be stretched by extending both arms in front of the body with palms down and bending the wrists both downward and outward, so that the fingers are angled to the outside. Forearm stretches for the extensors should also be held statically for at least 20 seconds and performed on both sides.
The pronator and supinator muscles, used frequently by tennis players, rotate the forearm opposite directions, so the same stretch can be applied in two directions to stretch both groups. To stretch the supinators, the right arm should be extended in front of the body with palm down, and the left palm should be stacked on the back of the right hand. Hooking the left thumb around the outside of the right hand, the left hand should be used to twist the right hand so that the thumb points down and palm faces out, and the stretch should be held for upward of 20 seconds on each side.
To stretch the pronators, the right arm should be extended with palm up and the left hand should be placed underneath with the left palm pressing against the back of the right hand. Grasping the fleshy part of the right thumb with the fingers of the left hand, the right thumb should be pulled downward and wrist rotated so that the palm of the right hand faces outward. Again, forearm stretches for the pronators are recommended for tennis players and should be held for 20 seconds on each side.