Forearm muscles account for approximately thirty-three percent of arm mass. They are indirectly stimulated with "straight-bar" exercises that work the biceps, triceps and back. However, it is helpful to occasionally use exercises that isolate the forearms for direct stimulation.
Strong forearms are particularly useful in injury prevention, sport specificity and grip strength. Research has shown that an effective strength & conditioning program can improve maximal force and power production, reduce the incidence of injuries and contribute to faster recovery times (Cockram & Tolley, 1997).
Reducing Injuries Resulting From Under Trained ForearmsWeak forearm muscles increase susceptibility to overuse injuries. For example, tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is a painful inflammation resulting from a lesion primarily at the muscle-extensor carpi radialis brevis. The condition often arises from movements which hyper-extend the elbow joint.
Similarly, golfers elbow or medial epicondylitis affects the muscles on the medial side of the elbow joint (Cockram & Tolley, 1997). The occurence of each injury is reduced with more attention to direct forearm training. Competitors in other sports that involve throwing grabbing, pulling, pushing or gripping also benefit from direct forearm stimulation. Strengthened forearm muscles allow athletes to spend more time competing.
Strong forearms are not just for athletes. Regular people who strengthen their forearms can better perform everyday tasks that involve bending (contracting) and straightening (extending) the arms. For example carrying groceries, small children and pets become easier when weak forearms aren’t a limiting factor.
Basic Strengthening And Stretching Exercises For Lower ArmsForearm strengthening exercises might include squeezing a tennis ball, wrist circles using a weighted object, dumbbell wrist curls with the forearm pronated (palm facing downward) and supinated (palm facing upward) and pull/chin ups.
Pull ups using a thick bar (over 1.5 inch diameter) may have a very positive impact on forearm and grip strength. If you cannot do a pull up then jump up to grip the bar and slowly lower your body weight downward. When stretching your forearms it is important to keep the elbow fully extended and ensure you stretch both flexors and extensors (Cockram & Tolley, 1997).
Basic Anatomy Of ForearmThe forearm is comprised of various muscle groups such as flexors, extensors, supinators and pronaters along with major nerves and arteries that facilitate movement of hands, elbows, wrists, fingers and thumbs. Bones of the forearm are the radius and ulna.
Common anterior forearm muscles include:
- Brachioradialis (flexion of forearm)
- Flexor Carpi Radialis (flexion/abduction at wrist)
- Palmaris Longus (assists in wrist flexion, absent in nearly 20% of Caucasians)
- Flexor Carpi Ulnaris (wrist flexion).
Common posterior forearm muscles include:
- Extensor carpi radialis longus (wrist extension/hand abduction at wrist)
- Flexor digitorum superficialis (finger flexion).
The anterior and posterior muscles listed are but a few of the many muscles that comprise the forearm.