Exercises To Improve Hand Mobility

Exercises To Improve Hand Mobility

Exercises To Improve Hand Mobility

Whether cooking, driving, or examining fruits and vegetables at the produce market, our hands work every day. We may not realize that our busy hands, like other parts of our body, can become tired, tender, achy, and sore. The hands of those who suffer from ailments like arthritis, tendonitis, or carpal tunnel syndrome can feel even worse.

When we have problems with the range of motion in our hands, our ability to write, type, grasp objects, open a jar, button clothes, use utensils, and perform other daily living activities becomes limited. Chronic conditions, like arthritis, which causes swelling, pain, and stiffness, can further limit joint flexibility.

Experts say that our muscles naturally weaken as we age, and the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in our hands are no exception. According to the Cleveland Clinic, our “grip strength”—the strength in our hands, wrists, and forearms—can say a lot about how healthy we are, as well as our risk for injury, mental health conditions, and other problems.

“Grip strength naturally begins to decline around age 50, and maybe even earlier,” said Dr. Ardeshir Hashmi, a geriatric medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Geriatric Medicine. “People who maintain their grip strength age more slowly. They stay healthier longer and are stronger throughout their bodies.”

So, how can we make sure our hands stay in good working condition?

Therapists recommend hand exercises that help develop the hand muscles. Some exercises, like stretching, help increase a joint’s range of motion or loosen tight muscles and tendons. Other hand exercises strengthen muscles around a joint to generate more power or to build greater endurance, according to Harvard Health.

Warmup Exercises For The Hand

Warmup exercises for your hands are just as important as warmup exercises for the rest of the body. According to Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC), warmup exercises can help alleviate discomfort and make stretching and movement easier.

Keck Medicine suggests treatments that include:

  • Soaking your hands in warm water
  • Wrapping your hands in a heated towel
  • Use a heating pad for five to 10 minutes

You can also rub some oil into your hands, put on a pair of rubber gloves, and soak them in warm water, or use a heated towel or heating pad. This method is good for those who have pain or stiffness in their hands and fingers regularly.

Range of Motion Exercises For The Hands

Range of motion exercises are geared to increase your flexibility and reduce pain and stiffness in your hands. These exercises also help to manage arthritis in the hands and fingers.

Here are ten exercises that you can try:

1. Finger Lifts

  • Place your left hand flat, palm down, on a table or another flat surface.
  • Starting with your thumb, gently lift one finger at a time slowly off the table.
  • Hold each finger for one to two seconds, and then lower your finger.
  • Repeat with your right hand and then repeat eight to 10 times for each hand.

2. Make a Fist

  • Gently make a fist with each hand, wrapping your thumb across your fingers.
  • Hold this position for up to one minute. Slowly open your fingers as wide as possible.
  • Repeat this exercise three to five times with each hand.

3. Finger Bends

  • Hold your hand out in front of you with your palm facing down.
  • Slowly bend your fingers downward, one at a time, until they touch your palm.
  • Hold for a few seconds and then release.
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times on each hand.

4. Thumb Extension

  • Start with your palm up and your thumb positioned outward.
  • Move your thumb across the palm and back to the starting position.

5. Hand/finger tendon glide

  • Extend your fingers straight out.
  • Make a hook fist; return to a straight hand.
  • Make a full fist; return to a straight hand.
  • Make a straight fist; return to a straight hand.

6. Wrist extension and bending

  • Extend your right arm in front of you with your palm facing down.
  • Bend your wrist, pointing the tips of your fingers toward the floor.
  • With your left hand, gently bend your wrist toward you until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearm (that means behind your wrist). Hold this position for at least 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Switch to your left arm and then repeat two to four times.

7. Wrist ulnar/radial deviation

The radius and ulna are the two bones that make up the forearm. The radius attaches to the wrist bones, and the ulna attaches firmly to the humerus (the upper arm bone) at the elbow.

  • Rest your forearm on a table on a rolled-up towel for padding or on your knee, thumb upward.
  • Gently move your wrist up and down through its full range of motion.

8. Wrist supination/pronation

  • Stand or sit with your arm at your side with the elbow bent to 90 degrees, palm facing down.
  • Rotate your forearm so that your palm faces up and then down.

9. Wrist Curls

  • With a light dumbbell or resistance band, sit with your forearm resting on a flat surface, palm facing upward.
  • Slowly curl your wrist upward and then lower it back down.
  • Repeat for several repetitions.

10. Grip Strengthening

Use a hand therapy squeeze ball, also known as a stress ball, which helps to strengthen the hand and forearm. The purpose of this exercise is to develop the ability to hold things in your hand without dropping them and to open door knobs.

  • Squeeze the ball as hard as you can without causing pain to your hand.
  • Hold this position for three to five seconds, and then release.
  • Work up to repeating the exercise 10 to 12 times for each of your hands.
  • Continue this exercise two to three times weekly, but rest approximately two days before your next session.

If exercises and other forms of self-care are not effective, Dr. Rachel Lefebvre, an orthopedic surgeon at Keck Medicine USC, recommends visiting your doctor for medical evaluation and appropriate treatment.

“If you’re having numbness or tingling in your hand, you should be evaluated by a physician,” said Dr. Lefebvre, who specializes in the treatment of hand and wrist injuries. “If you have weakness in your hands that’s not improving with strengthening exercises or that’s concerning to you, you should be evaluated by a hand specialist.”

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