One in four fractures involve the hand or wrist. Almost as common are soft tissue injuries—strains, sprains and contusions. "With so many bones, ligaments, tendons, and joints keeping hands and wrists working, it's not surprising that injuries to the hand and wrists are so common in athletes of all ages," says hand surgeon Dr. Stuart Elkowitz of Somers Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Group.
That’s why he advocates strengthening, stretching, and protecting the skin, joints, bones, and ligaments.
Strengthening exercises that protect the hands and wrists are simple to perform, don’t require special equipment, and might help to mitigate an injury. You can build strength by squeezing a ball in your hand, doing wrist curls while holding a soup can or light weight, or extending your fingers against the resistance of rubber bands placed around them.
Stretching should be part of every warm-up and can include simple actions like extending the arm with elbows straight, and curling the hand to move the wrists up and down.
Wear protective gear. Wrist guards can help prevent fractures. Gloves protect the palm from a direct blow and the skin from wounds and cuts.
"Even seemingly minor injuries should receive prompt medical attention,” Dr. Elkowitz says. Patients often can't tell, for example, if a finger is broken. They may believe that if they can move it, it isn't broken. But the only way to know for sure if the finger is fractured is with an x-ray. And a fracture left untreated can result in arthritis and considerable pain."
Further, he says, “The important things for athletes to keep in mind are that 'playing through the pain' can result in serious, permanent damage and that simple preventive measures —strengthen, stretch, protect—can help athletes have a healthy season."