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Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus

Posted on 23rd Jul 2020 / Published in: Wrist

General information

The extensor carpi radialis longus is one of five primary muscles of the arm that control the movement of the wrist.

Literal meaning

Long muscle on the radial side of the wrist that extends.

Interesting information

This muscle is commonly involved in forearm muscle injuries due to overuse especially in sports like tennis, badminton and rowing. The muscle is involved in many day-to-day activities and hence the chances of injuries are high. Activities like typing or working on computers for long periods of time can strain the muscle causing tendinitis. Orchestra conducting, golfing, knitting and crocheting are all activities that have a chance of overusing the muscle. This is because the muscle is in an unnaturally strained position during these activities. Symptom of the injury is a constant, dull ache or burning sensation felt above the elbow, going down the forearm, almost to the fingers. Your grip will also be weakened and unreliable.

Stretching the muscle at regular intervals can help avoid injuries. Strengthening the muscle by exercising it is also beneficial.

There are two extensor carpi radialis muscles – the longus and the brevis. Both are used for almost the same movements and are together called the fist clenchers. Tennis elbow is a common injury of the brevis muscle.


Lateral supracondylar ridge of humerus.


Radial side of the dorsal surface at the base of the second metacarpal bone.


Extends the arm at the wrist; radially abducts the hand at the wrist.

Nerve supply

Radial Nerve (C6, C7)

Blood supply

Radial collateral and recurrent arteries; recurrent and posterior interosseous arteries

Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus

Relevant research

A retrospective review of three methods of treatment for recalcitrant lateral epicondylitis- standard Nirschl procedure, arthroscopic release, or percutaneous release of the extensor tendon – done by a single surgeon on a hundred and nine patients found that all three methods had similar success rate and effectiveness.

Szabo SJ, Savoie FH, Field LD, Ramsey JR, Hosemann CD (2006). “Tendinosis of the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis: Evaluation of Three Methods of Operative Treatment” Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery 15:6 721-7.

Extensor carpi radialis longus exercises

The Wrist Extensor Stretch is an effective way to prevent injuries to the extensor carpi radialis longus muscle. It is also recommended in standard treatment of tennis elbow and lateral epicondylitis. To do the stretch, hold out one hand straight and use the other hand to apply gentle pressure and bend the wrist down so that the fingers point to the ground. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Instead of the other hand, you can use a wall to apply pressure. In that case, both hands can be stretched simultaneously. This exercise must be done regularly, when doing long hours of steady activity involving the muscle.

Extensor carpi radialis longus exercises

For strengthening the wrist muscles, the Wrist Extension exercise can be done using an exercise band. It is useful for treating wrist, elbow and forearm injuries. Rest your arm on a bench or table as shown, with palm down and holding an exercise band. Slowly pull back your wrist to create tension in the band. Repeat ten times and return to the initial position. This can also be done with a dumbbell instead of a resistance band.

Extensor carpi radialis longus exercises

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