Tips to reduce hand pain
Happy Hands, Happy Life!
Tips to reduce hand pain.
Keeping our hands active and moving is a huge part of our everyday lives; we use our hands for just about everything we do. From driving and cooking, to eating and holding our loved ones close, our hands play a big role in this thing called life!
That’s why it’s important to keep them strong and healthy. How can we make that possible? The answer is simple: keep them moving through daily exercises!
How Hand Health Affects Our Overall Health
Just by looking at them, our hands can tell us many things related to our health. Several Harvard studies have shown that even the simplest of things, including grip strength, can indicate good heart health among other things.
According to recent studies, adults over the age of 60 with poorer grip strength and weaker hands are often linked to an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and other severe medical issues.
Fear not! On the other hand, (pun certainly intended), studies have also proven that by maintaining good grip strength and hand health, you’re decreasing the risk of cancer or heart-related issues.
Benefits of doing hand exercises and hand stretches:
- Increased blood flow & synovial fluid
- Increased hand strength
- Increased mobility and range of motion
- Decreased blood pressure
Focus on the Movements
As mentioned previously, exercising your hands on a regular basis not only helps the joints in your hands, but your overall health. Easy hand stretches and exercise habits like the ones below can be done anywhere, anytime! We suggest incorporating these exercises into your daily routine to reach optimal results.
Heat Therapy: The Power of Warming Up
Before starting hand exercises or hand stretches, it’s important to warm up your hands to increase the elasticity of tight tissues (like muscle and tendons), and get more blood flowing in your hands to aid in healing.
Tips to warm up your hands effectively:
- Hold a warm drink, with your hands around the cup body
- Hold or squeeze a Hand Warming Grippie (that’s been microwaved for 1-2 minutes)
- Hold your hands in warm water
Our Favorite Hand Exercises and Stretches
Now that your hands are warmed up, let’s begin!1. Climbing Hands
This is our all-time favorite hand exercise. Climbing Hands is a 3-part stretch, which includes (1) the finger curl, (2) the full-fist, and (3) the flat fist. Watching the video of how to do this (below) is much easier than trying to understand a description of the steps. :)
The finger curl, also known as a tendon glide, stretches your flexor tendons. To start, keep your palms facing away from you, ensuring your fingers and thumb are stretched out as far as you can in an open hand position. Next, make your fingers curl towards your palm as much as possible. This can be difficult or even uncomfortable, as this can be an intense tendon stretch. Hold for 1 deep breath. Afterwards, open your hand back into an open position.
The full fist is a tight fist, with your fingers curled tightly into your palms, and your thumbs pointing outwards (they are not engaged in the full fist position). Hold for 1 deep breath. Then open your hands to the open position.
The flat fist is, well, a flat fist. Your fingers will be flat against your palm, and the lower you place them on your palm, the more of a stretch it is. Your thumbs should be pointing outwards, and not be engaged in the flat fist position. Hold for 1 deep breath, then return to the open hand position.
Repeat this exercise 3-4 times.
NOTE: Remember to follow through with each step as best as you can. If you feel any discomfort or pain at any point, relax your hands. Only go as far as your hands are physically comfortable with.
2. Jazzy Hands
For this exercise, you’ll simply need to place your hands directly in front of you with palms facing away - then, squeeze your fingers and thumbs together as tightly as you can. Hold for 1 deep breath. Then, open your hands and stretch your fingers away from one another as wide away as you can! Hold that stretch for 1 deep breath.
Repeat this exercise 3-4x for an optimal finger stretch.
Hand Strengthening Exercises
These hand exercises are sure to keep your joints healthy and strong! Try them out with a friend, a loved one, or by yourself!
3. Zen Push
This isometric hand and wrist stretch is a great carpal tunnel stretch, and is perfect for elongating those muscles from the wrist to the fingertips! Simply place your hands together, fingers upwards, in a prayer-like position, with your elbows in. Then, slowly push your elbows out and your hands down, while keeping your palms together as much as possible. Hold this stretch for 2 deep breaths. Then, bring your hands up (still palms together) to give your hands a rest.
Repeat 3-4 times.
4. Sticky Fingers
To start, you can place your arms either in front of you or by your sides - try to keep your shoulders relaxed with the rest of your body! This exercise focuses on stretching your fingers, and increasing the range of motion of your fingers and thumbs.
Start by opening your hand as wide as possible. Then, bring your index finger to your thumb, while keeping the other 3 fingers as far back as possible. You should press your index finger into your thumb with some force, which helps to increase your finger and thumb strength. Keeping your other 3 fingers as far back, while you’re pressing your index finger into your thumb, will be difficult, but it allows the flexor tendons of your hand to stretch nicely while you're strengthening the index finger and thumb. Hold for 1 deep breath. Open your hand to a wide hand position.
Then, switch fingers so you bring your middle finger to your thumb, and your 3 other fingers are as far back as possible. Remember to really press your middle finger into your thumb, while actively keeping your other fingers as far back as possible. Hold for 1 deep breath. Open your hand to a wide hand position.
Then, switch fingers so you bring your ring finger to your thumb, and your 3 other fingers are as far back as possible. Remember to really press your ring finger into your thumb, while actively keeping your other fingers as far back as possible. Hold for 1 deep breath. Open your hand to a wide hand position.
Finally, switch fingers so you bring your pinky finger to your thumb, and your 3 other fingers are as far back as possible. Remember to really press your pinky finger into your thumb, while actively keeping your other fingers as far back as possible. Hold for 1 deep breath. Open your hand to a wide hand position.
Repeat 4-5 times.
Grip Strengthening Exercises
Grip strength is known to be associated with better mobility, increased quality of life, and reduced disability. Grip strength is correlated to living longer, and has been shown to be a better indicator of cardiovascular and pulmonary health than blood pressure!! Hand grip strength exercises like the ones we’ll complete below, have been long used by occupational therapists. Similar to our hand exercises above, we recommend completing strengthening exercises at least a few times a week for best results.
5. Power Squeeze
This is the easiest and most comfortable grip strength exercise that we do. Get something soft to squeeze, and then squeeze it! This is a simple squeeze and release exercise. The movement focuses on strengthening your hands and fingers in one simple step.
If you squeeze something like a Hand Warming Grippie (that is soft and warm), then you not only strengthen your hands, but you also increase blood flow and loosen up tight tissues at the same time.
So, go grab something soft, and ideally something like a Hand Warming Grippie. When you squeeze it, you’ll want to keep your hand, wrist, and forearm in proper natural (i.e. straight) alignment so that you’re not unnecessarily straining your wrist or hands. Squeeze for 2 deep breaths, then release.
Rest for 5 seconds, then repeat 3-5 times.
6. Grip Strength Kits
For those looking to more thoroughly strengthen their hands, here is a free hand grip strength video that you can follow along with to really improve your grip strength. This class uses a 4-piece grip strength kit that’s been designed to be easy and comfortable to use. You can purchase the 4-piece grip strength kit here.
This portable grip strength kit comes with adjustable resistance levels. Beginning with our extensor bands, simply slide your fingers through the band, securing it comfortably at the tips of your fingers with moderate force. By activating these muscles, you’re working your extensor muscles, a crucial part of the strengthening process.
Similar to our squeeze and release exercise, our grip strength kit comes with a circular resistance band! However, these tiny bands have different levels of resistance. That way, you can work your way up to strengthening those hands a little more each day!
Maintaining hand health doesn’t have to be such a pain! With these groundbreaking tools, optimizing your hand health has never been easier.
Let us know in the comments below if these hand exercises and hand health products work for you!
Happy hands, happy life!
About the author
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.
Jamber is a hand care company, focused on helping everyone have happier & healthier hands. Jamber offers hand care products, and free hand care classes to help relieve hand pain and increase hand strength.
LeWine Howard (2015). Grip strength may provide clues to heart health. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/grip-strength-may-provide-clues-to-heart-health-201505198022
BMJ. (2018). Associations of grip strength with cardiovascular, respiratory, and cancer outcomes and all cause mortality: prospective cohort study of half a million UK Biobank participants. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5939721/
Physiol Appl J. (2008). The effects of strength training on finger strength and hand dexterity in healthy elderly individuals. National Library of Medidine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2576040/
Pazhampally Sindhu. (2020). What your grip strength says about your overall health. Edward-Elmhurst Health. https://www.eehealth.org/blog/2020/02/what-your-grip-strength-says-about-your-overall-health/
Musalek Christina & Kirchengast Sylvia. (2017). Grip Strength as an Indicator of Health-Related Quality of Life in Old Age – A Pilot Study. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5750866/
Leave a comment