Last week, we looked at the anatomy and function of the hand. We explored the bones, tendons and muscles of the hand and how they work together to create movements that allow us to live our daily lives. This week, we will show you some simple exercises to take your hand through its range of motion, and will improve the function of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Perform these exercises slowly and deliberately to avoid injury. Looking at your hands and wrists will help your brain to assimilate what you are doing with your hands, and will also help with the symmetry of movement. Make sure the movements are smooth and pain free.
Open and close hand
- This exercise works the interosseous muscles of the hand to splay your fingers apart and to press them back together.
- Do 10-20 repetitions with full but pain free range of motion
This series of stretches is meant to stretch the long tendons that cross the wrist at the carpal tunnel into the ends of the fingers. These tendons are often bound to other structures of the wrist or hand after injury or surgery in the hand, wrist or forearm, or when there is immobilization in any of these structures. This series takes the tendons, step by step, to their most fully lengthened position.
Finger Tendon Strengthening
The following exercise helps to strengthen the muscles and tendons that open the hand. This motion is just as important as the muscles that help us grip objects.
- Use an elastic band for resistance and start with the fingertips together, then slowly spread your fingers out to open up the hand
- Try to keep an even amount of pressure through all your fingers
- You can vary the intensity by using thicker or thinner elastic bands.
- Do 10-15 repetitions
This exercise helps to strengthen some of the muscles that move the thumb.
- Use an elastic band for resistance and hold one end near your fingertips
- Pull the thumb up (toward your face), hold for 3-5 seconds, and then slowly return to the start position
- Do 10-15 repetitions
Increasing Grip Strength
A simple exercise to strengthen several intrinsic and extrinsic hand muscles at the same time,
- Hold the ball in your hand and slowly squeeze it as hard as you can for 3-5 seconds, then slowly release the tension
- Repeat 10-15 times
Thumb Opposition: Tip-to-Tip Grip
This series of exercises works on some of the intrinsic muscles of your hand while also improving hand coordination.
- Press the tip of the thumb to your index finger, as hard as you can but without pain for 3-5 seconds. Release the pressure and move to the middle finger
- Continue like this for all fingers in turn
- Maintain a soft, even bend of each finger as you do this exercise
As with the previous exercise, this one works the strength and coordination of your finger muscles and joints.
- Start with your thumb at the tip of your finger, then slide the thumb down the length of finger
- Continue with all 4 fingers
The exercises from a my previous “Give yourself a hand” series should help keep your forearms, wrists and hands supple and strong. If you have hand or wrist arthritis, it is good to do these exercises on a daily basis. Happy exercising.