In this post I’m going to show you how to use the tennis ball to mobilize the muscles of your forearm. This includes the wrist flexor and extensor muscles. The goal with this mobilization is to anchor one end of the muscle down and then actively stretch out the rest of the muscle against it.
1) Go back and read the massage post specifically on the forearm to review the body landmarks and muscles in this region. The primary area you will need to be able to locate for these mobilizations are the medial and lateral epicondyles. f you cup your hand under your elbow you will feel the two “knobs” on either side. These are the epicondyles and they are the two main attachment points for most of the muscles in the forearm. The epicondyle closest to your side is the called the medial epicondyle. This is where the wrist flexors attach (meaning the muscles that bend your wrist up towards your palm). The epicondyle on the outside is called the lateral epicondyle. This is where the wrist extensors attach (meaning the muscles that bend your wrist up towards the back of your hand). For these soft tissue mobilizations, you want to be able to find these epicondyles and then move 1-2 inches down from them onto the common muscle group tendons. To find the muscle groups, place your thumb on one epicondyle and slide down the forearm a bit. When you bend your wrist back and forth you will feel the muscles move beneath your fingers. Before starting the mobilization make sure you can find them! See the link to the post above for further details.
2) To perform this mobilization, you’re going to need a tennis ball, a raised surface to work on (such as a coffee table) so that you you can move the arm freely, and a corner of the wall to lean against. See the video below for a full demonstration.
For the wrist flexors: To begin the mobilization, start by bending your elbow and facing your palm down towards the table. Start the medial epicondyle and then position the tennis ball approx 1-2 inches below it (you can make sure your on the muscles by moving your wrist up and down; you will feel them move. if you don’t stop and find them per the advice above!). Once you have the spot, apply pressure with the tennis ball and then slowly try to bend you wrist up towards the ceiling. Remember, only go as far as you can comfortably. You’re not trying to force these!
For the wrist extensors: To begin the mobilization, start by leaning standing against the wall with your elbow bent and position the tennis ball just below the outer/lateral epicondyle (remember- find the spot before doing the mobilization per the advice above!). With the wrist bent back, lean into the tennis ball to apply pressure. Then try to bend your wrist down. Same rules. Don’t force it. Build through the reps and do what you can.
3) Try to do 10 reps for each muscle. As you’ll see in the video, you can work your way down from the elbow towards the wrist (if you do this, try 10 reps for each spot you work on).
4) Same warm up rules apply. Try to do this either following a workout or warm up the area with the foam roller first. Especially if you’re coming back from an injury or this is a problem area.
Here is a video demonstration of the mobilizations.