Wrist Extensors:
Hand & Forearm Anatomy & Exercises

The wrist extensors are primarily responsible for extension of the hands and fingers at the wrist joint.

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This small, but critical group of muscles includes eight individual muscles. These muscles may act individually, but they usually act together to perform movements.

On this page, you can find all information you'd want about this hand and forearm muscle group. Learn the anatomy, view pictures and discover the best exercises for training these muscles.

Use the table of contents (TOC) to easily navigate through this guide.

Other Names

  • Forearm Muscles
  • Hand Extensors
  • Hand Muscles
  • Wrist Muscles

Anatomy of the Wrist Extensors

Anatomy

Extensor Digitorum

Origin

  • Lateral epicondyle of the humerus

Insertion

  • Extensor expansions of the medial four digits

Function

  • Wrist extension
  • Extension of the proximal phalanges

Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus

Origin

  • Lateral supracondylar ridge of the humerus

Insertion

  • The base of the 2nd metacarpal bone

Function

  • Wrist extension
  • Wrist abduction

Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis

Origin

  • Lateral epicondyle of the humerus

Insertion

  • The base of the 3rd metacarpal bone

Function

  • Wrist extension
  • Wrist abduction

Extensor Carpi Ulnaris

Origin

  • 1st Head
    • Lateral epicondyle of the humerus
  • 2nd Head
    • Posterior border of the ulna

Insertion

  • The base of the 5th metacarpal bone

Function

  • Wrist extension
  • Wrist adduction

Extensor Indicis

Origin

  • Posterior surface of the ulna and interosseous membrane

Insertion

  • Extensor expansion of the 2nd digit (the index finger)
  • Function

    • Wrist extension
    • Extension of the index finger (which enables you to "point" with this finger)

    Extensor Digiti Minimi

    Origin

    • Lateral epicondyle of the humerus

    Insertion

    • Extensor expansion of the 5th digit

    Function

    • Wrist extension
    • Extension of the proximal phalanx of the 5th digit at the metacarpophalangeal joints

    Extensor Pollicis Longus

    Origin

    • Posterior surface of the medial third of the ulna and interosseous membrane

    Insertion

    • Base of the distal phalanx of the thumb

    Function

    • Wrist abduction
    • Adduction and lateral rotation of the extended thumb
    • Extension of the distal phalanx of the thumb
    • Extension of the metacarpophalangeal and interphalangeal thumb joints (only after distal phalanx extension)

    Extensor Pollicis Brevis

    Origin

    • Posterior surface of the radius and interosseous membrane

    Insertion

    • Base of the proximal phalanx of the thumb

    Function

    • Extension of the metacarpal bone of the thumb
    • Extension of the proximal phalanx of the thumb at the metacarpophalangeal joint
    • Wrist abduction
    • Wrist extension

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    Wrist Flexors Exercises

    Barbell

    • Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl

    Dumbbell

    • Dumbbell Radial Deviation
    • Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curl

    Cable

    • Cable Reverse Wrist Curl

    Machine

    • Reverse Wrist Curl
    • Machine Radial Deviation
    • Machine Roller Radial Deviation

    Other

    • Wrist Roller

    Stretches

    • Kneeling Wrist Stretch
    • Single Arm Wrist Stretch

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