What is the Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus?

Alex Paul
Alex Paul
The extensor carpi radialis longus muscle is often involved in overuse injuries of the forearm, such as playing tennis on a regular basis.
The extensor carpi radialis longus muscle is often involved in overuse injuries of the forearm, such as playing tennis on a regular basis.

The extensor carpi radialis longus is a thin, long muscle that is found in the forearm. It is one of five primary muscles in the arm that are used to move and control the wrist joint. Its main function is to dorsiflex the wrist joint as well as abduct the hand. The muscle is commonly involved in overuse injuries of the forearm such as tendinitis which occur with a variety of sports such as rowing, badminton and tennis.

When playing tennis, the consistent use of proper form and technique can help stave off some injuries.
When playing tennis, the consistent use of proper form and technique can help stave off some injuries.

The origin of the extensor carpi radialis longus is at the humerus and the insertion is on the dorsal side of the second of the series of bones known as the metacarpals. It has its innervations via the radial nerve. As a muscle the extensor carpi radialis longus is relatively long and extends from the elbow down to the wrist. An example of a common use of the muscle is typing which recruits many of the muscles in the forearm.

To begin with, the muscle is mainly a tendon that continues along the arm. It then moves into a second tendon compartment before turning into muscle. The upper third of the muscle turns into a tendon before insertion.

Poses that gently stretch the extensor carpi radialis longus should be held for at least 30 seconds.
Poses that gently stretch the extensor carpi radialis longus should be held for at least 30 seconds.

Injuries to the extensor carpi radialis longus are relatively common as it’s a muscle that is used a lot in everyday life. Not only do sports such as tennis potentially damage it, but any repetitive action that puts the muscle under strain can eventually cause an overuse injury. Many people who work at computers suffer from tendinitis of the wrist extensors as these muscles are put in an artificially strained position for long periods of time.

Younger players should be particularly careful to avoid tennis-related injuries that can lead to chronic pain.
Younger players should be particularly careful to avoid tennis-related injuries that can lead to chronic pain.

Stretching is often an effective way of preventing tendinitis from occurring in the muscle. In some cases strengthening may also be required. To stretch the extensor carpi radialis longus the person should stand with his or her arm out in front before using the other hand to pull the fingers downwards with the wrist pointing up. A stretch should be felt along the forearm. Stretches such as these should be held for at least 30 seconds.

The extensor carpi radialis longus attaches at the humerus on one end.
The extensor carpi radialis longus attaches at the humerus on one end.

There are two extensor carpi radialis muscles &mdahs; the other being the extensor carpi radialis brevis. The word brevis is Latin for short. The brevis muscle inserts on the base of the third metacarpal rather than the second although it is used for many of the same movements such as typing. A common injury associated with the brevis muscle is tennis elbow.

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    • The extensor carpi radialis longus muscle is often involved in overuse injuries of the forearm, such as playing tennis on a regular basis.
      By: Galina Barskaya
      The extensor carpi radialis longus muscle is often involved in overuse injuries of the forearm, such as playing tennis on a regular basis.
    • When playing tennis, the consistent use of proper form and technique can help stave off some injuries.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      When playing tennis, the consistent use of proper form and technique can help stave off some injuries.
    • Poses that gently stretch the extensor carpi radialis longus should be held for at least 30 seconds.
      By: Africa Studio
      Poses that gently stretch the extensor carpi radialis longus should be held for at least 30 seconds.
    • Younger players should be particularly careful to avoid tennis-related injuries that can lead to chronic pain.
      By: Andrey Kiselev
      Younger players should be particularly careful to avoid tennis-related injuries that can lead to chronic pain.
    • The extensor carpi radialis longus attaches at the humerus on one end.
      By: Balint Radu
      The extensor carpi radialis longus attaches at the humerus on one end.
    • Injuries to the extensor carpi radialis longus are relatively common, as the muscle is used often in everyday life.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Injuries to the extensor carpi radialis longus are relatively common, as the muscle is used often in everyday life.