Radial Ulnar Deviation – How to do the Vertical Wrist Hinge Test

Last updated Oct 31, 2019 | Published on Sep 28, 2016

The third mobility screen is the vertical wrist hinge test that evaluates the amount of radial ulnar deviation you have in your wrists.

Some fitness professionals call this screen the wrist hinge test or the radial and ulnar deviation test.

I prefer the term vertical wrist test because you place your hand in a vertical position and radial and ulnar aren’t common terms.

Radial ulnar deviation is an important movement in the golf swing. Radial deviation occurs when you set the club in the backswing, and ulnar deviation provides more speed (read power) during clubhead impact with the golf ball.

In this article, you will learn how to do the vertical wrist hinge test. There are also a few exercises if you find you lack wrist hinge mobility.

Third in a Series

This is the third post in a series of articles on mobility screens for golfers. To read other articles in the series, links to the posts can be found near the bottom of this article: Put the Horse in Front of the Cart and Get With the Fitness Program.

Further down in this article there is also a free Mobility Screening Sheet that you can download so you can track your results as you go through the whole mobility screening process.

What is Radial Ulnar Deviation?

Radial and ulnar deviation are wrist movements that move your hand toward the radius and ulna bones in your forearm.

The radius is the lower arm bone closest to your thumb, and the ulna is the lower arm bone closest to your pinky finger.

radius and ulna bones

Radial deviation occurs when you hinge your wrist by moving your hand or fingers toward the radius bone in your forearm as shown below.

radial deviation

I call this Hinge Up. Ideally, you should be able to deviate your hand at least 20-degrees up relative to your forearm position.

In the photo below you see that my wrist has a radial deviation of around 24-degrees.

radial deviation

The downward hinge is called ulnar deviation, where the hand and fingers move toward the ulna bone.

ulnar deviation

Your wrist should be able to have more ulnar deviation than radial deviation. Ideally, you should be able to ulnar deviate or hinge down at least 30-degrees. In the image below you can see my wrist has a ulnar deviation of around 45-degrees.

ulnar deviation

You need to be careful, though, it looks as if I’ve bent my hand away from my forearm. This movement will allow me to gain more deviation. If this were a mobility screen, I would have to redo this part of the test making sure my palm and back of the hand are parallel to my forearm position.

Vertical Wrist Hinge Objective

The objective of the vertical wrist hinge test is to check the mobility of your wrist. When you set the club at the top of your backswing, your wrists need radial deviation. The opposite happens at impact when ulnar deviation is necessary to add speed and to allow the club head to reach the golf ball.

There are several wrist mobility tests; this is the first. Your wrists are very active during the golf swing.

How to Do the Vertical Wrist Hinge Mobility Test

If you’re familiar with the TPI procedure of this test, you will notice that I do it a little different.

TPI requires that you keep your thumbs up during the test. I see no different in angles when the thumbs are on top or when they are adjacent to the palm of your hand. Except it is easier to see the angle the wrist makes to the forearm when the thumb is alongside the palm. It is also easier to take a measure if you are using a device to collect the angle.

The Steps

This is a simple test and below is a bulleted list of the steps. In the video below you can see the test first hand.

  • Place your elbow on your side.
  • Raise your forearm so it is parallel to the floor.
  • Put the thumb alongside the palm side of your index finger.
  • Keeping your elbow at your side, and your forearm parallel to the floor hinge your hand up.
  • Make sure not to cup your hand. The palm and back of the hand should be vertical and in line with your forearm.
  • Determine if the angle between your forearm and top of our index finger is greater than 20-degrees.
  • Mark your screening sheet with the results. If you can’t reach 20-degrees, mark yes to limited up.
  • Return your wrist to neutral, make sure your forearm is parallel to the floor and the hand is in line with the forearm.
  • Now hinge your wrist down.
  • If you can’t hinge your wrist down 30-degrees, mark your screening sheet yes to limited down.
  • If you can hinge your wrist 20-degrees up and 30-degrees down (or greater) make your screening sheet yes to 20 up and 30 down.
  • Repeat the procedure with the opposite wrist.

That is the end of the vertical wrist hinge test.

If you want to measure the angle you can use a protractor, goniometer, or a clinometer phone app.

TMF Mobility Screening Sheet

You can download a copy of the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet by pressing the button below and entering your name and e-mail. I will deliver it to your inbox.

Click to Download the PDF

Below is a video of the vertical wrist hinge test.

Simple Isn’t It?

The vertical wrist hinge test, like the other two mobility tests, is easy to perform. I like to start off with straightforward mobility tests in the beginning and work into the more sophisticated tests.

Exercises To Help Radial Ulnar Deviation

Below are two videos that have some exercises to help you increase radial and ulnar deviation. 

Mobility Screenings

The vertical wrist hinge test is easy, right?

Well, there are quite a few more, and they do get more complicated.

This is the third screen of sixteen.

To find links to the other mobility screens go to Put the Horse in Front of the Cart and Get With the Fitness Program, they’re listed near the bottom of the article.

If you think someone else might be interested in these mobility screens, use the social share buttons along the left side of the article to share with your friends. If you would like to follow me on social media, I’m on the sites below.

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