Of all the muscles of the forearm, the palmaris longus is the most unique and mysterious. I say this because 20% of people don’t actually have the palmaris longus muscle. Let’s take a look at the function of this muscle and then the best exercises to stretch and strengthen it.
Palmaris Longus Anatomy
The palmaris longus is a tendon that is present between the flexor carpi ulnaris and flexor carpi radialis.
Originating from the medial epicondyle of the humerus.
It joins the flexor retinaculum and palmar aponeurosis.
Blood supply: –
The palmaris longus muscle is supplied with blood by a branch of the anterior ulnar recurrent artery, which is itself a branch of the ulnar artery. If the median artery is well developed, it also contributes to the blood supply.
Nerve supply: –
The median nerve supplies the muscle.
It acts as a flexor of the wrist joint.
The palmaris longus assists the flexor carpi ulnaris and flexor carpi radialis muscles to perform balanced flexion of the hand at the wrist. It also serves to stabilize the elbow joint when fully extended, as do other forearm muscles that attach to the humerus and thus cross the elbow joint.
Tightening the palmar aponeurosis also helps to maintain the grip of the hand when grasping certain objects.
The palmaris longus is a superficial forearm flexor that helps flex your wrist. It is the most superficial of all the forearm flexors, which means it sits very close to the skin and is thus very easy to see when you do its anatomical functions.
The palmaris longus is the superficial forearm flexor… if you have one.
In addition to flexing the hand/wrist, the palmaris longus tightens the fascia of the palmar aponeurosis in your hand.
This function is important to our daily lives as it enables us to hold objects such as kettles, TV remotes, and small phone devices that you are reading on now.
Palmaris longus exercises
This palmaris longus exercise comprises of stretching, flexion and gripping.
Let’s look at each in more detail so you know how to do the exercises.
Palmaris Longus Stretch
Out of all the Palmaris Longus exercises, this one is the simplest because it very easy to learn and requires zero equipment.
- Stand straight and place one hand in front of you, palm down.
- Raise your wrist so that your palm is now facing forward.
- Then bring your other hand over your body and apply the stretch to the first hand while gently pulling your fingers back.
- Hold the stretch for 10-20 seconds and then do it with the other hand.
Of course, this particular stretch also works other muscles in addition to the palmaris longus.
This exercise is commonly called the wrist curl or the wrist extension.
- Grab a dumbbell that you are comfortable using placing your palms on a flat surface, with your palms hanging off the edge.
- Bend your wrists and let the dumbbells descend toward the floor until you feel a good stretch.
- Come straight up by curling your hand towards the meat of your forearm.
- Squeeze the muscle and then repeat for 10-15 reps and 2-3 sets. Don’t forget your other hand!
The most obvious place to do this exercise is on the weight bench in the gym. But providing that you have access to a dumbbell (or really, anything that acts as a dumbbell), you can also do this drill at home on a table or desk.
Hand grip squeezes
If you don’t have access to dumbbells and don’t even have a gym membership, this movement is one of the best palmaris longus exercises you can do for more strength. Not only does it work the muscle in question, but it also strengthens almost all the muscles in the forearm, wrist and hand. Here’s how to do it:
- Hold the hand gripper between the palm of your hand and your fingers.
- Squeeze it by joining your fingers and palm together.
- Keep squeezing until both ends of the gripper make contact.
- Release the gripper under control and repeat for 8-12 squeezes.
When it comes to forearms, hand grippers are the #1 choice alternative to free weights.
If using a gripper makes your hands sore, you can always wear a pair of gym gloves to make the exercise tolerable. Likewise, if maintaining a firm grip on the gripper is an issue, you can use some cheap chalk to keep things running smoothly.
4. Towel wring:
- Soak the towel in water so that it is completely damped.
- Roll the towel up so that it forms a cylinder. Grab the towel with both hands, starting with an overhand grip.
- Wring out the towel by twisting it. Twist the towel towards you with your left hand and the right hand away from you.
- Complete the movement, alternatively switching directions for 30 seconds.
Should you train them with weights?
Not really. Regular resistance training strengthens the forearms quite well.
Plus, if you need to strengthen your palmaris longus, it’s not like you can even isolate it; You are going to work on other forearm muscles as well.
So, while you can certainly do direct forearm and grip training, there’s no need to design an exercise for every small muscle that resides in your lower arms. Otherwise, you’ll literally be living in the gym.
The Most Effective Palmaris Longus Muscle Exercises?
As long as you are stretching and strengthening the muscles, any exercise will suffice. I personally like to start with some sort of wrist flexion or grip exercise and then end with a stretch to release any tension that builds up in the muscles during the workout.