5 Grip Strength Exercises: The Benefits Will Surprise You!

Get a grip!  How to Improve grip strength with 5 simple grip exercises and why it matters a lot

Current research strongly indicates that hand grip strength can be a better indicator of longevity of life, cardiovascular health, and overall quality of life than blood pressure or physical activity level.  This may come as a surprise, but research has shown that the stronger your hand grip strength is, the less likely you are to be affected by cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other terminal diseases. And this is just the start of grip strength benefits.  It’s no wonder that people are rushing to strengthen their grip!  Read below for 5 simple exercises that you can do everyday or any day to improve your grip strength. 

Research has shown that the more we take care of our hands, the more we improve our quality of life, and the length of our life.  At Jamber, we focus entirely on improving your hand health so that you can have a higher quality of life.  We believe that everyone, regardless of age or ability, deserves hands that feel great so that we can all do the things that we love to do.  We offer free hand health classes, and we create everyday products, like a coffee mug, that can actually improve your hand health!

 

The Research Behind Grip Strength and How it Affects Our Holistic Health

Aging is inevitable. However, with primary prevention, such as the inclusion of grip strength exercises and hand stretches, we can slow down the aging of our hands.  Current research indicates that performing a few simple grip strength exercises daily can have a significant improvement on how our hands age throughout our lives.  In fact, research has shown that grip strength benefits cognitive health, physical health, and overall holistic health.  

Additionally, research has suggested that healthy hands and maintaining good hand grip strength demonstrates a strong correlation to increased muscle mass and increased skeletal mass, two major bodily components that affect the aging process.  In other words, older adults who have a stronger grip are more likely to have increased muscle mass and increased bone mass, which lead to increased mobility.  This also leads to suffering from less bone disease, fewer bone fractures, and fewer falls. 

 

A summary of grip strength benefits and correlations:

  1. Correlates to increased longevity
  2. Improved quality of life
  3. Correlates to reduction in cardiovascular disease, or other terminal illnesses
  4. Reduced hand aging process
  5. Increased muscle and skeletal mass (decreased falls and probability of obtaining bone disease)
  6. Increased independence to engage in everyday tasks
  7. Improved cognitive, physical, and overall holistic health

 

3 Main Types of Grips:

  • Power Grip: The power grip is the strongest grip that a human hand can make. It’s the typical “grip” that many people think of when they think “grip”. A power grip exerts the most gripping force, and is executed by simply closing your hand with the thumb in opposition of all the other fingers.  Examples of a power grip are holding a ball, holding a hammer, shaking someone’s hand, or making a fist. 

  • Pinch grip: This grip is used for precision grips. You execute this grip by pinching one finger against the thumb. This is the grip that you’d use when picking up a marble, or buttoning your shirt.  You’d also use a pinch grip to hold a traditional cup of coffee.

  • Support Grip: This grip is used to hold things for long periods of time. This grip effectively uses the fingers as a hook.  You use a support grip when you’re doing pull-ups, carrying grocery bags, or opening a door. 

 

 

5 Simple Grip Strength Exercises to Increase Your Grip Strength: 

So, we’ve talked about how important hand grip strength is, and we’ve talked about a bunch of grip strength benefits, now let’s talk about some simple grip strength exercises that you can do everyday to greatly improve your grip strength. 

1.  Squeeze things whenever you can!

    This one cannot be stated enough!  Just squeeze stuff (keeping your forearm and hand properly aligned) to improve your grip strength.  When you squeeze something, you strengthen the inner intrinsic muscles of your hand.  Ideally, you’ll squeeze something that is soft or conforms to the shape of your hand, and ideally you can squeeze things of different resistance so that you start to build up more strength.  You can squeeze a towel, face cloth, a pair of jeans.  We can’t stop squeezing our Hand Warming Grippies.

    A Hand Warming Grippie is a simple device that has been designed by hand experts to both improve your grip strength and soothe sore hands.  It’s a microwave-safe and freezer-safe sock that you will want to squeeze.  It’ll leave your hands stronger, and feeling so much better as the warmth (or cold) infuses into your hands, and as the rice inside the Grippie gently  massages your palm.  It’s a wonderful little invention. 

     

    SHOP HAND WARMING GRIPPIES

    2.  Use a Grip Strength Kit to Enhance Intrinsic Muscles, Extensor Muscles, and Overall Hand Strength

    You can purchase a grip strength kit that comes with grip rings and finger extensors.  These kits are ideal for methodically improving your grip strength.  There are even free grip strength classes and videos that you can watch everyday that walk you through simple 15-minute exercise routines using these devices.    

    If you are a beginner, then we recommend getting a kit that is soft enough and easy enough for your hands.  Many grip strength kits are designed for rock climbers, and are too difficult for beginners.  We recommend the Jamber 4-piece Grip Strength Kit, which is specially designed for beginners.  This kit has 2 resistance levels, that are well-suited for beginners looking to improve their grip strength

      

    To use the extensor bands, simply slide each of your fingers through each loop. Then, carefully and slowly extend (or lengthen) the band by pushing through the tops of your fingers. Make sure not to push too hard, only pushing with moderate force. The point is to feel the muscles at the tops of your hands stretch and work, but not to exert so much force that the band over expands.

    The other part of the kit comes with a rubber circular grip rings, which you simply squeeze to exercise your inner intrinsic hand muscles.  Just be careful not to rest the ring too close to your wrist, as this can put unnecessary pressure on your carpal tunnel.

     Grip Strength Ring

    SHOP GRIP STRENGTH KITS

     

    3.  Pincer grasp exercises – “Sticky Fingers”

    Hand grip benefits vary from gross motor to fine motor grasps. This easy exercise focuses on increasing your pincer grip strength for each finger, while simultaneously stretching out your hand.  Start with an open and wide hand, and one at a time, press each finger to your thumb, while keeping your other fingers as far back as possible.  You want to remember to really press your finger into your thumb, and be aware of keeping those other fingers stretched.  Repeat 3 times.  By practicing this exercise, you’ll gain more strength in your intrinsic muscles of the hands, which will make it easier for you to do things like button your shirt, pick up small objects, or hold a toothbrush.

    VIDEO: Learn Sticky Fingers Exercise in 30 Seconds

     

    4.  Baoding Balls 

    Baoding balls are a fun, unique way to improve not only your hand grip strength, but also your hand dexterity.  Baoding balls have been shown to improve overall hand health, reduce stress, and improve sleep.  These balls are often metal with chimes inside, and are rotated in your hand.  You can use a set in each hand at the same time, or you can focus on one hand at a time.  Here’s a great article about the history of Baoding balls, and how they help your hands so much

    Baoding Balls

    Simply rotate the balls in the palm of your hand, using your fingers and thumb to move the balls.  You can join one of our free Baoding balls classes to learn how to use this wonderful hand tool. 

    Join a free Baoding balls class today

    5.  Ball Crush Squeezes

    This final exercise focuses on the ‘crush grasp,’ which can help you have a stronger handshake!  To complete this exercise, you can use a tennis ball, or other soft object like a Hand Warming Grippie, small pillow, folded towel, etc.  Place the object in between your right and left palm. Next, squeeze the object using your fingers as tightly as possible and hold the squeeze for 5-8 second intervals. Repeat the exercise at least three times.

     

    About the author

    Elisah Gelladuga, COTA

    Elisah Gelladuga is a Pediatric Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant working in Houston, Texas. Elisah is currently an Honors Student finishing her second degree in Professional Studies at Texas Woman’s University with hopes to move forward with a graduate degree in Occupational Therapy next year. 

    Elisah has previously worked as a social media director, contributing writer, and loves working with children to help them live optimal, independent lives. 

     

     

     

    Sources:

    “3 Longevity Benefits of a Super Strong Grip.” BarBend, (2019)
    barbend.com/grip-strength-benefits/

    Douglas-Gabriel D. (2016).  “Why Grip Strength Is Important Even If You're Not a 'Ninja Warrior'.” The Washington Post, WP Company.
    www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/why-grip-strength-is-important-even-if-youre-not-a-ninja-warrior/2016/06/07/f88dc6a8-2737-11e6-b989-4e5479715b54_story.html

    Musalek C and Kirchengast S. (2017).  “Grip Strength as an Indicator of Health-Related Quality of Life in Old Age-a Pilot Study.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, MDPI.
    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5750866/

    Schoenfeld M. (2020).  The 3 types of grip and the 8 ways to train them. Breaking Muscle.
    https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/the-3-types-of-grip-and-the-8-ways-to-train-them

    Physiopedia. (n.d.). Sporting Hand and Wrist – Why Power and Pinch Grips Matter. 
    https://www.physio-pedia.com/Sporting_Hand_and_Wrist_-_Why_Power_and_Pinch_Grips_Matter