By: Chris Valuck, Wellness Director

Are you finding that tasks such as opening jars, turning doorknobs, using a key or even opening a package are becoming increasingly difficult to perform? Then you may benefit from including the following hand-strengthening exercises into your weekly routine to help improve your grip strength and range of motion.

First, let’s talk about the main types of grips you’ll be enhancing. The crush grip is used when holding or closing your hand around an object. The pinch grip is used to hold an object with just your fingertips or pinching something together (i.e. holding a pen). The support grip uses your finger and thumb muscles, allowing you to hold on to things for a long time, such as a dumbbell in an exercise class. Finally, although not a “grip,” a hand extension works the opposing muscles to the flexors to help maintain muscle balance and stability between the two groups. Using simple pieces of equipment, or none at all, you can improve the strength of these important muscles. There are numerous hand exercises, a few are listed below. Let’s begin with exercises that require no equipment.

Fist to Open Fingers
Make a tight fist, then open your hand fully and spread your fingers. Repeat 3-5 times on each hand.

Open Hand Finger Lift
Place your open hand palm down on a flat surface. Begin lifting each finger up off the surface, one at a time. Then, keeping your palm on the surface, lift all fingers at once. Repeat 3-5 times on each hand.

Thumb and Finger Touch
Hold your open hand in front of you and begin touching your thumb with one finger at a time. When you have touched each finger, go in the reverse order on the same hand. Repeat this 3 times, then perform the exercise on the other hand. For an added challenge, try performing the exercise on both hands at the same time. For variety and challenge, you may choose to use equipment for your exercises, such as a small hand exercise ball, a tennis ball (if possible, cut in half so it will be easier to use), and a simple rubber band.

Rubber Band Hand Extensions
Place the rubber band around your fingers and thumb. Keeping your fingers straight, open your hand by spreading your fingers apart; then allow them to close again. Repeat this exercise for 3-5 times on each hand.

Tennis Ball (or Exer-ball) Crush
Place the ball in the palm of your hand, close your hand, and squeeze (crush) the ball for several seconds, release, and repeat a 3-5 times in each hand.

Ball Pinch
Hold the ball with only your fingertips and thumb. Now pinch the ball, hold a few seconds, and release. Repeat this 3-5 times on each hand. You might also try pinching the ball with one finger and thumb at a time. Complete this exercise on both hands.

Master these exercises, and you will see improved hand strength and flexibility. If you are interested in additional hand strengthening exercises, please contact Chris Valuck at Ext 377.