Why Hand Exercises Are Important

Your hands, which are composed of numerous bones, joints, and ligaments can become prone to swelling and pain. Particularly, thumb joint arthritis is one of the most common causes of hand pain. It can cause a decline in the ability to grip objects, difficulty in opening jars or doors, and aching pain at the base of the thumb. While arthritis cannot be cured, there are treatment plans that can help you manage the disease and make everyday tasks easier. And one simple yet effective way to strengthen the muscles and to relieve stiffness and pain is through hand exercises. 

You need your hands more than any other part of your body to complete your daily tasks. At the Fitzmaurice Hand Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona, we are committed to providing treatments that are optimally effective at providing relief and restoring hand function. Double board-certified, fellowship-trained hand surgeon Michael J. Fitzmaurice, MD, constantly strives to expand the precision of hand surgery through minimally-invasive techniques that will help you get back to your life more quickly with outstanding results.

Benefits Of Hand Exercises

Your hands are susceptible to the same injuries as the other parts of your body if they’re not properly looked after. People who perform repetitive activities or forceful gripping are also more prone to pain and swelling, which can be associated with conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger & thumb. So, similar to the way you dedicate yourself to stretching the arms and legs before and after a workout, you should also give the same level of care and attention to your hands. After all, the hands are the most used part of the body.  

While arthritis affects the joints differently, there is plenty of evidence that shows how those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis who often experience difficulty in gripping objects because of painful joints, can experience symptom relief and positive effects on strength by performing hand exercises. Specifically, hand exercises can:

  • Strengthen the muscles around the joints for better support
  • Increase the circulation of synovial fluid (lubricates and helps cushion the joints to keep them moving smoothly)
  • Improve blood flow to your hands, warming the muscles and ligaments
  • Increase the oxygen and nutrients that circulate through the joint’s membranes, triggering the process of removing cell debris from joints
  • Improve flexibility
  • Improve range of motion
  • Reduce joint damage
  • Reduce the risk of injury by elongating the muscles
  • Relieve pain

Hand Exercises To Strengthen The Hands And Maintain Flexibility

According to Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California, there are many exercises that can provide you with temporary, or even longer-term pain relief. Examples of exercises posted on their website include:

  • Using A Squeeze Ball

Hold a soft ball in your palm and squeeze it as hard as you can without causing pain. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds, then release. Work up to repeating this exercise 10-12 times for each of your hands, 2-3 times weekly, then rest approximately two days before your next session. This exercise will increase your ability to grip things without dropping them, as well as help you comfortably open doorknobs throughout the day.

  • Making A Fist 

With each hand, make a gentle fist then wrap your thumb across your fingers. Hold this position for up to one minute, then release and spread open all of your fingers as wide as you can. Repeat this exercise 3-5 times with each hand. This exercise will help increase your range of motion.

  • Lifting Your Fingers 

Starting with your left hand, place it flat, palm down on a table. Then beginning with your thumb, gently lift each finger off the table. Hold each of your fingers for 1-2 seconds and then lower them. Repeat with your right hand then repeat 8-10 times for each hand. This exercise can help increase the range of motion of your hands, as well as finger flexibility.

  • Stretching Your Wrists 

Extend your right arm in front of you with your palm facing toward the floor. Bend your wrist, pointing the tips of your fingers toward the floor. With your left hand, gently bend your wrist toward you until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearm (that means behind your wrist). Hold this position for at least 15-30 seconds, then switch to your left arm to repeat 2-4 times.

Tips For Maximizing The Benefits Of Hand Exercises

  • Do the exercises throughout the day. Most of these exercises are simple enough to do on a table or counter, or while commuting on the bus, standing in line, or even in bed before starting your morning. This will help keep your fingers limber during the day.
  • Do not overdo it. Be gentle with your hands and perform all exercises slowly. Stop when you feel pain or tension so you don’t injure or harm yourself. You can talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the best number of reps to avoid strains.
  • Apply moist heat. Moist heat can help make the motions easier and more comfortable to perform. You can soak your hands in warm water for 5-10 minutes before doing the exercises. Other ways include wrapping your hands in a towel soaked in hot water, or performing these exercises while taking a warm shower.
  • Relax. It helps to be calm and mindful while doing the exercises. Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth can significantly help you relax and reduce overall stress. 
  • Customize your exercise plan. Everyone’s circumstances will vary, so it is highly recommended to discuss exercise with your doctor. Together, you can create an exercise plan that will work best for you.

Schedule A Consultation With a Hand Specialist Today

The pain and discomfort associated with arthritis can be very debilitating. Let the Fitzmaurice Hand Institute get the relief you need in the safest and most effective manner possible. To learn more about our innovative and minimally-invasive techniques for treating hand injuries and conditions, request for an appointment in our Scottsdale office today.


Fitzmaurice Hand Institute
8841 E Bell Rd #201
Scottsdale, AZ 85260