Wrist Strengthening for Motocross

by James Rutter
Wrist injuries are the second most common injury suffered by motocross riders.

Wrist injuries are the second most common injury suffered by motocross riders.

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Motocross racing puts an incredible strain on a rider's body. The engine vibrates the bike's chassis and frame, the shocks pound up and down as the dirt bike passes over rough terrain, and the rider must fight to keep his grip on the handlebars without flying backward off the seat or forward over the front of the bike on a rough landing. Developing and maintaining strong wrists and grip strength helps a rider succeed and avoid injury.


Before each race or practice ride, motocross riders can loosen up the forearm muscles and wrist joints by stretching them. To stretch the forearms, riders should sit on their dirt bike's seat and stretch the arms forward with the hands up and palms facing outward. The rider should then place his fingertips against the hand grips and push his arms forward while keeping his fingers tight against the grips. After holding this position for a few seconds, the rider should release the pressure and then repeat the entire stretch several more times. This exercise will stretch the muscles in the forearm that connect to the wrist joint.

Grip Strength Exercises

Grip strength exercises will strengthen the wrist joint from the forearms and from the hands. Squeezing a foam rubber ball, a racquetball or a tennis ball will provide beginning riders with enough resistance to build up grip strength. Riders should squeeze the ball tightly in one hand as if trying to crush it, holding the squeeze for a few seconds before repeating until the forearm and hand is sore. Riders should then switch to the other hand. More experienced riders can develop grip strength by performing pinch grip and supporting grip strength exercises. These exercises include holding a barbell plate or dumbbell between the thumb and one or two fingers and suspending the weight over the ground for up to one minute, or executing straight-leg dead lifts with a double-overhand grip for eight to 20 repetitions.

Forearm Exercises

Strong forearm muscles strengthen the wrist joint. Riders can build forearm strength by performing a number of barbell or dumbbell exercises. These exercises work the joint from multiple angles, and riders should train in these movements during upper body weight-training sessions. Riders can work on forearm and grip strength concurrently by using a thick-handled barbell or by wrapping a towel around a barbell or dumbbell. A wider surface on the dumbbell or barbell requires a rider to exert more force to keep it from slipping out of her grasp.


Even after an athlete has trained to strengthen her wrists and grip, she can protect the wrist joint from injury be wearing protective gear. A number of companies sell wrist wraps designed for the stress of motocross racing. These wraps absorb vibration and shock from the bike and prevent the wrist muscles and tissues in the joint from moving outward from the bone. Diminishing outward movement keeps the joint tight and enables a rider to exercise the wrist joint and muscles in their natural direction. Outfitting a bike with smaller-diameter hand grips lets a rider keep his grip tight on the handlebars with less effort, decreasing the chance of muscle and joint strain.

About the Author

Since 2005, James Rutter has worked as a freelance journalist for print and Internet publications, including the “News of Delaware County,” “Main Line Times” and Broad Street Review. As a former chemist, college professor and competitive weightlifter, he writes about science, education and exercise. Rutter earned a B.A. in philosophy and biology from Albright College and studied philosophy and cognitive science at Temple University.

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