Wrist Flexion or Bowing – Mobility Tests for Golfers
Wrist flexion is vital to the golf swing as the lead wrist needs to bow to store energy late in the downswing and to square up the clubface at impact.
Of course, we have all heard how Dustin Johnson bows his wrist at the top of the backswing. Bowing the wrist at the top is unorthodox, as most swing instructors recommend a straight or flat wrist at the top and bowing it on the downswing to create lag and more power in the swing.
Pretend you’re in your downswing right now. You’ll see that you bow your lead wrist toward the inside of the forearm, and extend the wrist on the trailing arm back to the top of the forearm.
If you’re taking a practice swing right now, you can probably feel the tension in your wrist and forearm as you try to increase your lead arm wrist flexion. Being able to flex your wrist at least 60-degrees is optimal to the golf swing.
If your wrist mobility is limited, there are some exercises at the end of this article that will help you improve your wrist flexion.
Fifth in a Series
This is the fifth post in a series of articles on mobility screens for golfers. Links to the other four posts can be found near the bottom of 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.
Wrist Flexion or Wrist Bowing Screen
The Objective of the Wrist Bowing Test
The wrist flexion test aims to evaluate if your wrists can flex forward.
Any limitation in wrist flexion can cause you to compensate for the lack of movement either in your backswing, downswing, or both.
Besides leading to poor swing mechanics, limited wrist flexion can lead to injuries.
The mobility test is quick and easy. It is a pass/fail test, but you can measure the angle if you can’t pass the test. Measuring and documenting screening results is useful as you can compare the results after re-testing to see if the corrective exercises are helping.
Wrist Flexion or Bowing
Wrist flexion, or more commonly called bowing, is bending your wrist downward.
It is as simple as that. However, being able to bow your wrist to a particular point is important. That point is 60-degrees.
If you look at the image, you will notice the top of the hand is dipping downward, almost 60-degrees. That isn’t the case, though, what you can’t see is that the forearm is also dipping down.
Giving the illusion that the wrist is flexing more than it is.
There are a couple of ways to check this. Here is where I differ from TPI’s methods.
TPI suggests holding the arm straight out in front of the body raised parallel to the ground. Then bow your wrist downward. It seems easy, and it is until you try to measure or gauge how much your wrist is bowing.
If you’re having someone else help you with the test, this method is excellent. But trying to do it yourself it’s much harder, especially when trying to measuring the angle.
How to Measure the Angle
TPI suggests holding a 6-iron parallel to your forearm and allow the head to hang down. Most stock 6-irons have a lie angle of between 58- and 62-degrees.
With the club shaft parallel to your forearm, you can gauge if your wrist is bent approximately 60-degrees or not.
With help, this is easy, by yourself, not so much. It’s hard to hold out your arm straight, keep the club on your forearm, and then look out in front of you to see if the top of your hand is parallel to the sole of the clubhead.
What to Do Instead if You Have No Help
There are two options.
Download an app by Plaincode called “Clinometer,” it works both on IoS and Android systems.
It uses the side of your phone to measure angles.
You can place it on your forearm and either make sure it reads zero (don’t worry about reading the gauge, it has a voice and will tell you the angle!), then place it on the top of your hand once you’ve bowed your wrist. Or you can measure the angle you are holding your forearm, and subtract that from the angle of your hand.
The second way is to take a photo of your arm and wrist angle and measure those same angles off a computer screen with a protractor or use some software to calculate the angles.
Step by Step
Here are the steps:
- Hold out your arm parallel to the floor.
- Bow your wrist down.
- Use one of the methods above to gauge the angle.
I like to rest my arm on a table and hang my hand off the end. Then I bow my wrist and measure the angle of my forearm and my wrist to calculate the actual wrist flexion angle.
I like to know what the actual angle is, so I can re-screen myself after doing corrections to see if there are improvements.
You will see how the screen works by watching the video below.
You can see that the top of my forearm is at an angle to the tabletop.
I needed to account for this dip, so I extended a straight line along my forearm, past my hand, and drew an angle from that line to the top of my hand.
Once I transferred the photo to the computer screen, I checked the angle of the table to make sure it was level, measured the angle of the line along my forearm (18-degrees), measured the angle of my hand (61-degrees) and calculated my wrist flexion: 61 – 18 = 43-degrees.
To pass the wrist flexion screening test my wrist needs to bow at least 60-degrees so I would have to mark down that I failed the test with my right-side and then test the left side.
You can track your mobility tests on my screening sheet.
TMF Mobility Screening Sheet
You can download a copy of the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet immediately by pressing the button below.
On the screening sheet, I would circle “Yes” on <60-degrees on the right hand for test #5.
Wrist Flexion Exercises
Don’t worry if you can’t bow your wrists 60-degrees there are a few exercises that will improve your mobility.
These exercises can be done while you’re watching TV. I recommend you get a Flexbar by Theraband.
The Flexbar is easy to use, hold it in front of you and use one hand to keep it in place then rotate your other hand and wrist over the top of the Flexbar as far as you can twist it and hold it for as long as you can.
You can use the Flexbar for other wrist, forearm, and elbow exercises too.
Constant Pressure Exercise
You can exert constant pressure on the hand while your wrist is in flexure to help stretch out muscles in the forearm. Watch the video to see how it is done.
Wrist Flexion Using a Dumbbell
You can use light dumbbells to help you extend the range of your wrist flexion too, this exercise also helps with wrist extension, which will be the sixth screen in this golfer’s mobility series.
Using a Table for Leverage
You can also use a table to rest your arm on and use it for leverage as you flex and extend your wrist.
As you can see the exercises used to help with wrist flexion aren’t difficult. All it takes is some time and patience to stick with the movements until you improve your mobility.
I like the Theraband exercise as it provides resistance to the movement pattern. The further you rotate the bar, the more it pushes back. Plus you can use it for other exercises.
The wrist flexion test is easy, right?
Well, there are quite a few more, and they do get more complicated.
This is the fifth 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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