Summit hand therapist Jared Venier, OTR/L, tells you how to maintain strength and flexibility with some hand stretches you might not have tried before.
Having a strong grip or good dexterity is easy to take for granted when your hands are healthy. But if overuse, arthritis, or injury limits your ability to use your hands without pain or stiffness, you quickly learn how important a good stretching regimen can be in allowing your hands to move pain-free. Summit hand therapist Jared Venier, OTR/L, is here to help with a few hand stretches that you might not have tried before.
“There are both intrinsic and extrinsic structures in the hand. Intrinsic structures begin and end in the hand, whereas extrinsic structures extend up the arm. People often run into trouble with the extrinsic structures, which start in the elbow and extend all the way to the fingertips,” Venier said.
Extrinsic structures are important for gripping and full-arm movements. That’s why stretching across multiple joints, including the wrist and elbow, can benefit your hands as well. While these stretches may seem to focus on your forearm or wrist, they are also great for the hands.
Hand Stretch 1: forearm flexor stretch
- Stretch out your fingers on the palm side. Then, use your other hand to push your fingers backward while also pressing wrist backward.
- For a more intense stretch, “we can increase the palm-sided stretch by straightening the elbow,” Venier said. “While holding the palm side of the fingers with the other hand, pull them backward, then straighten the elbow until you feel a slight tension (but no pain).
Hand Stretch 2: forearm extensor stretch
- Make a fist, then bend the wrist forward, pushing on the back of the knuckles to bend the wrist forward toward the body.
- You can get a lighter stretch with a bent elbow or a deeper stretch by straightening the elbow until you feel a little bit of tension.
For all of these stretches, Venier said, you should not feel pain. “A little discomfort with stretching is OK, but nothing sharp. Overstretching can worsen your symptoms, so you always want to make sure you’re not causing pain or going beyond a mild stretch,” he said.
Hand Stretch 3: intrinsic hand stretches
Problems with intrinsic structures are not as common, but some people have tightness or inflammation in the hand itself.
- Bend the second and third joint of the fingers in toward the palm, but do not bend the knuckles.
- Your hand will look like you’re making a paw shape (or the letter “e” in sign language).
Hand Stretch 4: palmar interossei hand stretches
- Placing your hand on a table, spread your fingers apart as far as you can.
- Using your other hand, pull your fingers away from the middle finger.
Summit Orthopedics provides personalized hand and wrist expertise
The function of our hands is integrated through our wrists and arms to our shoulders; 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, schedule an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.
More resources for you:
- Check out hand stretches and other ways to avoid hand overuse.
- Common Reasons Athletes Might Need Hand Surgery
- Learn more about hand therapy.