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Hand exercises build strength, increase flexibility and can offer relief from stiffness. Working with a rubber band adds resistance and intensity. Raid your junk drawer, the supply closet at work and the produce department of your local store so you can experiment with bands of different widths and strengths. Before you begin, warm up your hands by slowly separating and extending your fingers, and then closing your hands into loose fists. Repeat 10 times or until your hands feel more supple.
Stretching your fingers laterally against the band's resistance activates the hand's extensors. Loop the rubber band around the outside of your right pinky, twist the band once to form a figure-eight, and then insert your ring finger in the second loop. Twist the band again, and then insert your middle finger in the new loop. Twist once more, and then insert your pointer in the final loop. The band should feel quite firm. Place the palm of your hand on a firm, smooth surface, such as a tabletop. Relaxing your thumb to the side and holding it down with your left hand, slowly spread the fingers of your right hand as apart as far as possible. Hold for five seconds, and then return them to a closed position. Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times, and then repeat with your left hand.
Isolating your thumb helps build strength in the muscles that assist with grabbing. Wrap a rubber band around the fingers and thumb of your right hand. Position the band near the base of your fingers. Place the palm of the hand on a table. To prevent the band from shifting during the exercise, hold the band in place with the fingers of your left hand. Gently move the thumb of your right hand away from your fingers, working against the band's resistance. When you've opened your thumb as far as possible, hold for five seconds, and then return the thumb to its initial position. Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times, and then switch to your left hand.
Full Hand Extension
Wrap a wide rubber band around the fingers and thumb of your right hand, positioning the band near your fingertips. Holding your right elbow near your side, relax the muscles in your arm and shoulder. Gently open up the hand, pressing against the band's resistance as you spread the fingers and thumb apart. Hold the extension for five seconds. Relax the hand and fingers slightly, and then immediately extend the hand again. Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times, and then switch to your left hand.
Tips and Warnings
For best results, attempt to work through your full range of motion. If you have arthritis in your hands or are recovering from a hand-related injury, discuss the appropriateness of specific exercises with your doctor or physical therapist. If you're having an acute flare-up of osteoarthritis in your hand, your doctor will likely advise against working with a rubber band until your symptoms subside. When exercising, you should experience light to moderate tension, not pain. If you experience pain at any point, stop immediately.