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Simple Hand-Strengthening Exercises

Registered and licensed occupational therapist Kathryn Milbert, OTD, OTR/L, shares some easy ways to improve your hand strength at home.

There are many ways people can lose strength in their hands. Aging and sedentary lifestyles both take their toll, and so do conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, strokes, or a hand injury that keeps your hand immobile for a period of time as it heals. Losing hand strength can make it harder for you to grip, squeeze, and hold — making thousands of daily activities more difficult. Occupational therapy with one of Summit’s team of hand and wrist experts is a great option, but there are ways to incorporate hand-strengthening activities without leaving home.

Hand-strengthening idea 1: Do the dishes

It may sound strange, but you can make your hands stronger while you make the dishes clean. “Squeeze a washcloth in a basin of warm water: pinch it and twist it,” Milbert said. “The heat makes it feel soothing, which is an added benefit, and you get a wider range of motion if you have a bit of stiffness.”

Hand-strengthening idea 2: Play with putty

Once the housework is done, it’s time to play: Using putty or Play-Doh can be a fun and easy way to increase hand strength. You can squeeze it, pinch it, and even make animals or other shapes out of it. “You can even put things into the putty, like a marble, to pick out using one hand. It can fine-tune your pinch strength,” Milbert said.

Hand-strengthening idea 3: Use it or lose it

The best way to strengthen your hands — and the one people tend to find most difficult — is to use your hands as much as possible. “Most people get strength back through functional use — just use your hands,” Milbert said.

From carrying boxes, to opening jars, to buttoning a shirt, making your hands do daily activities will increase their function. Many people recovering from an injury are fearful about using their hands. They may worry about another injury, or they may feel frustrated that their injured hand doesn’t work as well as it used to. Nevertheless, using your hands is the best way to keep them working well for you throughout your life.

Summit Orthopedics provides personalized hand and wrist expertise

The function of our hands is integrated through our wrists and arms to our shoulders. From hand-strengthening issues to arthritis, a problem anywhere along our arm may have a significant impact on hand function and quality of life. If you experience an injury or uncomfortable symptoms, our fellowship-trained hand and wrist surgeons are here to help. Summit physicians receive the highest levels of training and exclusively provide individualized care for conditions of the hand, wrist, and elbow.

Start your journey to better function and less pain. Find your hand expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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