It’s safe to say that hands are indispensable commodities – from eating to texting and waving at someone across the street, we need healthy and strong hands.
So, how do we keep our hands and finger muscles in good working shape? If you find it hard to take on even the simplest task because of swelling and stiffness, the right wrist exercises can help relieve discomfort and help recover strength and dexterity in the hands and fingers. Moreover, hand strengthening exercises like the ones we’re going to look at today can also help prevent infirmities such as arthritis from worsening.
This hand exercise guide includes exercises for all proficiency levels. Below are some of the most commonly recommended hands exercises.
NOTE: If your hand condition is severe or debilitating, it’s best to get exercise recommendations from your doctor or physical therapist. All hand exercises should be performed gently and carefully to avoid injury. If you feel pain during some of these exercises, stop and talk to your doctor.
Range-of-Motion Hand Exercises
Before we get to the hand exercises, let’s take a look at the range of motion of the hand. Your tendons and muscles move the joints in your hand through arcs of motion, the same way when you bend and extend your fingers.
If your natural range of motion is weakened—if you can’t flex your thumb without feeling pain, the following exercises might come in handy.
These exercises activate the joints of the hand through their typical ranges of motion and require all the hand’s tendons to execute their particular roles. Do one set of 10 reps, two or three times a day, and hold each position for 5–10 seconds. Sounds easy enough, right? Let’s get to work!
Wrist Strengthening Exercises
Light work! Hand exercises can help strengthen your hands as well as your fingers. They can help increase your range of motion and give you much-needed relief if you have a condition. Start with this easy stretch:
- Make a fist, enveloping your thumb across your fingers (not too hard).
- Hold the closed wrist for 30 to 45 seconds.
- Loosen and extend your fingers as wide as possible.
- Repeat with the other hand at least three times.
Grip strength is essential to healthy hands. This grip strength exercise can make it easier to open stuff and hold objects without dropping them. NOTE: You’re going to want a softball for this exercise.
- Hold the softball in the palm of your hand and squeeze it as hard as possible.
- Hold for 20 seconds and release.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times with the other hand. Do this exercise at least three times a week. Don’t perform this exercise if your thumb joint is injured.
This pinching strength exercise helps stimulate and strengthen the muscles around your fingers and thumb.
- Pinch a soft foam ball between the tips of each finger and your thumb.
- Hold each pinch for 30 to 45 seconds.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times with the other hand. Perform this exercise two to three times a week. Stay away from this exercise if your thumb joint is injured or broken.
The good old finger-lift can be much more impactful than you think. This exercise can help extend the range of motion and flexibility in your fingers.
- Put your hand flat, palm down, on a flat surface (table).
- Slowly lift one finger off of the table and then drop it.
- Repeat 10 to 15 times with the other hand.
NOTE: You can also raise all your fingers and thumb at once and then lower them back to the original position.
Reinforcing the muscles of your thumbs can help you grasp and lift heavy objects like bottles and dumbbells.
- Place your hand flat on a surface. Wrap a small rubber band around your hand at the base of your fingers.
- Slowly move your thumb away from your fingers.
- Hold for 30 to 45 seconds and release.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times with the other hand.
This exercise helps improve your thumbs’ range of motion, which helps with daily tasks such as picking up your coins, fork, and pens.
- Hold your hand out and keep your wrist straight.
- Lightly touch each of your four fingertips with your thumb one at a time.
- Hold each gentle pinch for 30 to 45 seconds.
- Repeat at least three times with the other hand.
Extra Hand Exercise Tip
If you have achy and stiff hands and fingers, try warming them up before undertaking the exercise above. Doing so will make it easier to perform the exercises. Dip them in warm water for five to 10 minutes. Or, for a deeper pre-exercise warm-up, spread some oil on your hands, put on a set of rubber gloves, and then dip them in warm water for 5 minutes.
Make these easy exercises part of your daily routine and stick to them for maximum results. If these exercises become too painful for you to perform, talk to your doctor. He/she will recommend more specific exercises or other physical therapy treatments to help with the pain.