How to Do Planks Without Hurting Your Wrists

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If you can’t do it one way, do it another.

While the purpose of core-strengthening exercises like push-ups and planks is, er, core-strengthening, there’s another part of your body they tend to put a lot of pressure on: your wrists. While these exercises are technically simple, they rely a surprisingly high amount on you having wrists strong enough to support your body weight. For a lot of folks, this isn’t a huge deal, but for some, especially those with arthritis, putting that much weight on your wrists can be absolutely torturous. You still need to get your planks in, though, so let’s get a little creative.


If the problem is exclusively in your wrist and the rest of your arm is fine, you can perform an alternate plank while positioned on your elbows. Lay yourself down in the same way you normally would, but with your elbows located right under your shoulders and propping you up. Keep your back flat and push yourself up on your feet, or if you need something simpler, your knees. Hold that pose for 30 seconds to a minute, making sure to keep up your breathing, then rest.

You can use this same pose to perform a modified push-up. Same as before, prop yourself up on your elbows, then slowly lower your chest toward the ground without actually touching it, tucking your elbows in toward your ribs and squeezing your shoulder blades. Push yourself back up with your elbows and feet, and repeat.

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If you’d rather not use your arms to prop yourself up, you can still engage your core while laying on your back. Just grab a couple of free weights, lay on your back, and hold your arms outward sideways while bending your knees at a 90 degree angle. Keeping your elbows at a 90 degree angle, push the weights upward until they’re a straight line without locking your elbows, then slowly lower them back down.

Remember, there’s always more than one way to engage a particular muscle. It’s all about listening to your body and properly directing the force and pressure.