5 Physical Therapy Hand Strengthening Exercises

5 Physical Therapy Hand Strengthening Exercises

October 29, 2022

Our hands do a lot for us, and we don’t always realize how much we rely on them until we have a problem. From typing on a keyboard or cell phone to gripping a steering wheel, repetitive motions can create weakness and stiffness in your wrists and fingers. 

In addition to daily wear and tear, ailments like arthritis can make it increasingly difficult–and painful–to use our hands to perform everyday tasks. This is why maintaining hand strength is so vital. If you start to experience weakness or pain in your hands, whether from arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or another reason, speak to your doctor and a physical therapist to see what treatment options are available for you. 

5 Easy Hand Strengthening Exercises 

For individuals looking to improve finger and wrist strength through hand physical therapy exercises, check out these easy physical therapy exercises you can do at home or work. Most of these exercises don’t even require any equipment. 

1. The Claw (Isometric Hook) 

For this first exercise, you don’t need any equipment other than both of your hands. This is an isometric exercise where you will focus on tightening muscles without moving. 

Start this exercise standing or sitting. Place your fingers (both hands) in a hook fist, then clasp (or hook) the fingers together at your chest. One of your hands will be facing palm up while the other palm down. 

Then, use your arms to pull in an outward motion while keeping your hands hooked together. Hold this position for five seconds, then relax. Repeat for fifteen repetitions and then swap hands, so the bottom hand is now the top. Repeat the exercise. 

2. Ball Grip & Squeeze

For this exercise, you can use a soft stress ball or some therapy putty. If you don’t have either on hand, consider using a rolled-up ball of socks, tennis ball, or a small soft toy. 

Begin by holding the ball (or putty) in your hand and squeeze. Hold your squeeze for ten to twenty seconds. Then, release the ball and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise on this hand for 20 repetitions before switching hands. 

Squeezing a ball or putty helps increase flexibility and strengthen your hand and fingers. This hand strengthening exercise is especially recommended for anyone with arthritis. 

3. Rubber Band Abduction 

For this intrinsic hand strengthening exercise, you will need a rubber band that is large enough to spread across your fingers but is not too big to slip off without resistance. This exercise targets the hand muscles located between the fingers.

Begin by placing the rubber band across all 4 fingers (do not include the thumb). Then, spread your fingers as far apart as you can. Hold for five seconds, then relax. Repeat for 15 total reps and switch hands. 

4. Finger Curls 

This exercise can be performed sitting or standing. If you need extra support during this hand strengthening exercise, sit at a table and use the surface to support your elbow. 

Begin with your arm slightly outstretched and facing away from you. Gradually curl your fingers inward, starting at the top joints of your fingers, then the middle, and finally the knuckles, until the fingertips touch the skin on your hand. Hold for a few seconds and slowly return your fingers to a vertical position, starting at the knuckles, then the middle joint, followed by the top joints. 

Repeat the curl 10 times and switch hands. You can do 10 reps on each hand twice per day. 

5. Soft Hand Massage 

Giving yourself a hand massage after performing these other hand physical therapy exercises, or simply after a long day, will make you feel better. Regular hand massages may help to ease pain and increase hand strength. 

For this hand exercise, massage the palm of your hand with the opposite thumb using short strokes. Be sure to keep it gentle. Continue to massage the fingers, starting at the tips, and push down toward the palm. 

Take your time and repeat the massage on your other hand. 

Hand Physical Therapy 

Hand therapy works to rehabilitate the upper limb, which includes the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder girdle. Physical therapy is an especially promising treatment option for arthritis. Hand physical therapy exercises can help to increase your hand mobility and function and help reduce symptoms. 

If you believe you can benefit from hand physical therapy, Mid-County Physical Therapy can help. Contact us today to learn more about how our specialized physical therapy solutions can help!

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