Wrist loading patterns during pommel horse exercises

J Biomech. 1990;23(10):1001-11. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(90)90315-t.


Gymnastics is a sport which involves substantial periods of upper extremity support as well as frequent impacts to the wrist. Not surprisingly, wrist pain is a common finding in gymnasts. Of all events, the pommel horse is the most painful. In order to study the forces of wrist impact, a standard pommel horse was instrumented with a specially designed load cell to record the resultant force of the hand on the pommel during a series of basic skills performed by a group of seventeen elite male gymnasts. The highest mean peak forces were recorded during the front scissors and flair exercises (1.5 BW) with peaks of up to 2.0 BW for some gymnasts. The mean peak force for hip circles at the center or end of the horse was 1.1 BW. The mean overall loading rate (initial contact to first loading peak) ranged from 5.2 BWs-1 (hip circles) to 10.6 BW s-1 (flairs). However, many recordings displayed localized initial loading spikes which occurred during 'hard' landings on the pommel. When front scissors were performed in an aggressive manner, the initial loading spikes averaged 1.0 BW in magnitude (maximum 1.8 BW) with an average rise time of 8.2 ms; calculated localized loading rates averaged 129 BW s-1 (maximum 219 BW s-1). These loading parameters are comparable to those encountered at heel strike during running. These impact forces and loading rates are remarkably high for an upper extremity joint not normally exposed to weight-bearing loads, and may contribute to the pathogenesis of wrist injuries in gymnastics.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / physiopathology
  • Gymnastics* / injuries
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology
  • Wrist / physiology*
  • Wrist Injuries / physiopathology