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Best Hand Exercises for Arthritis

Best Hand Exercises for Arthritis

Arthritis is a chronic condition that affects the joints, causing pain and stiffness. One common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which often affects the hands and can make everyday tasks challenging. However, there are simple hand exercises that can help manage arthritis pain and improve hand function. These hand and finger exercises have been studied and proven effective. Let's explore them in detail.

Whilst most of our exercises don't require any equipment, rubber bands, putty (therapeutic or just plain old silly putty) and a stress ball can be helpful additions for some of the best options.

It is important to see a physical therapist where possible, and whilst these exercises are well known, levels of arthritic hands vary from person to person and if you feel something is to stressful for your finger joints it is important to stop immediately.

Understanding Hand Arthritis

To understand how these exercises help, we need to know a bit about hand arthritis. In arthritis, the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones in the joints gradually wears away. This can lead to discomfort, tenderness, stiffness, and swelling in the joints, making it difficult to use the hands.

Hand exercises can be a non-invasive and drug-free way to reduce these symptoms and improve hand function. These exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles around the joints, increase flexibility, and enhance dexterity.

Hand Exercise 1: Finger Bends for Flexibility and Mobility

This exercise focuses on improving the flexibility and mobility of each finger. Start with your hand extended, and then gradually bend each finger, one at a time, as if you're beckoning someone. Hold the bent position for a moment before returning the finger to its extended position. Repeat this for each finger, including the thumb. Regularly doing this exercise can improve finger flexibility and reduce arthritis discomfort.

Hand Exercise 2: Thumb-to-Finger Touch for Dexterity

This exercise targets manual dexterity, particularly in the fingers and thumb. Begin with an open hand posture, then touch your thumb to each finger, creating an "O" shape. Hold the contact for a moment before releasing and relaxing the hand. This exercise gently stretches the fingers and thumb, improving coordination and fine motor skills needed for daily tasks.

Hand Exercise 3: Finger Lifts for Muscle Strength

Finger lifts are designed to strengthen the muscles responsible for moving each finger. Place your hand, palm down, on a flat surface. Lift each finger, one at a time, and then lower it back down. This movement engages the finger muscles and improves finger independence. By regularly practicing this exercise, you can enhance hand strength and reduce arthritis symptoms. You should try to keep the fingers straight if possible, however, it's not the be all and end all. It may also be the case that one finger has more difficulty than others, this is normal.

Hand Exercise 4: Fist Clenches for Grip Strength

Fist clenches help maintain and improve grip strength, which is important for many everyday activities. Start with your hand extended, then gradually make a fist. Hold the fist for a few seconds before relaxing the hand. Repeat this exercise several times, allowing for rest between repetitions. By practicing this exercise, you can preserve and potentially enhance your grip strength. If it's too strenuous, or a little too sore at first, slowly bend the hand into a loose fist rather than a tight one and do this regularly until you gain more flexibility.

Hand Exercise 5: Wrist Bends for Flexibility

Wrist flexibility is vital for hand function, and this exercise targets just that. Rest your elbow on a flat surface and elevate your hand at a 90-degree angle. Then, flex and extend your wrist, keeping your arm stationary. This exercise promotes flexibility in the wrist joint and reduces stiffness. Regular practice can enhance mobility and reduce discomfort in the wrist.

Hand Exercise 6: Wrist Rotations for Range of Motion

This exercise is aimed at improving the range of motion in the wrist joint. With your arm extended and your palm facing downward, rotate your wrist until your palm faces upward. Then, rotate it back to the starting position. These alternating movements help the wrist move through its full range of motion, promoting flexibility and joint health. Perform this exercise in a controlled manner, avoiding any force or abrupt movements.

Hand Exercise 7: Rubber Band Finger Spreads for Strength and Dexterity

For improved strength and dexterity, this exercise uses a rubber band. Place the band around your fingers and thumb. With your fingers extended, spread them apart against the resistance of the band. This action engages the finger and palm muscles, strengthening them. Release the tension and relax your fingers before repeating the exercise a few times.

Hand Exercise 8: Therapeutic Putty Squeezes for Grip Strength

This is probably one of if not the best hand exercises for arthritis. It works incredibly well for general hand injury rehab as well. It helps the finger joints reduce pain, as well as enhancing grip strength, use putty, a soft stress ball or a piece of foam. Hold the object in your hand and gradually squeeze it. This squeezing action works the muscles involved in gripping tasks, strengthening them. Slowly release the grip to avoid strain.

Perform multiple squeezes throughout the day to promote consistent muscle engagement and improve grip strength. If you choose therapeutic putty you can get a variety of densities to allow for different residence levels. Try to use all of your fingers for grip, and not over rely on the index finger.

Hand Exercise 9: Thumb Stretch for Mobility and Flexibility

The thumb flexion exercise focuses on maintaining and improving thumb mobility and flexibility, important for tasks like pinching and grasping objects. Try to bring your thumb in contact with the base of your little finger, creating a stretch in the thumb muscles. Hold this position for a few seconds before returning to the starting position. Regularly practicing this exercise can help manage arthritis symptoms and improve thumb function.

To Wrap Up The Exercises For Arthritis In The Hands Conclusion

While these exercises can be beneficial for managing arthritis symptoms, they are just one part of a comprehensive approach to arthritis management. It's important to maintain a healthy body weight, get enough rest, and consider over-the-counter pain relievers if necessary.

Always warm up your hands before starting these exercises, such as by soaking them in warm water. Perform the exercises slowly and gently, without pushing your joints beyond their comfort level. The goal is to preserve or improve flexibility without causing pain.


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