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Strong hands. A symbol of strength. Both figuratively and literally.
In this article, we’ll be looking at all the ways you can do to strengthen your hands so that you can work out or perform any kind of hand-intensive task with ease. There are a number of exercises that you can try to help build grip strength, avoid injury, and help to prevent your hands from becoming too weak and vulnerable.
Hand grip strength in men
Men in general have stronger grips than women. The average man’s hand grip strength is 10 pounds, while the average woman’s grip strength is only 7.5 pounds. This means that people could have higher risk of being unable to do common tasks in their everyday living if they are not able to maintain sufficient leg or arm strength needed for them to stay active due to lack of sufficient hand grip strength.
Another reason why people want stronger hands has been identified when looking at different occupational activities requiring high levels of hand-grip force; which resulted in the need for the use of safety gloves and other appropriate devices. Doing this would ultimately reduce instances/cases where injuries may happen often due to required work with high forces (i.e. gripping, pulling, pushing).
There are some instances where people want to get stronger hands because of activities they engage in or for general practice/preference. For example, there are baseball players who did not have strong hand grip strength which did not allow them to make certain types of pitches accurately; resulting into injuries that caused them to be caught off guard. For some, general fitness or self-confidence are also a factor.
Hand strength = preventing injury
Injuries that may happen to a person with weakened hand grip strength can range from mild to life threatening ones. Injuries may include dislocations, fractures and sprains most typically caused by falls, slips or trips. The severity will depend on the force being applied to the hands especially when the person with weaker hands engages in day to day activities.
There are instances where injuries can be avoided if one practices strengthening hand grip strength regularly. These include lifting heavy objects, participating in sports and martial arts activities, playing musical instruments or doing house chores with kids or pets around which requires proper handling of objects most especially when they are wet or slippery.
As the old saying goes “prevention is better than cure”, it is always advisable to strengthen hand grip strength to avoid injuries.
What are your hand muscles and what do they do
The muscles of the hand are best classified into two groups: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Intrinsic muscles of the hand
The intrinsic muscles of the hand are made up of four sets, or layers. For this article we won’t get too technical listing all the muscle names, but we will touch on a few key hand muscles.
These muscles originate from specific bones in your forearm and extend to the fingers. The function of these muscles is to oppose one another when producing movement in your hands.
For example, when you make a fist with your hand, you use both palm-side (flexor carpi ulnaris) and palm-up (palmaris brevis) hand muscles to close your hand.
The palmaris brevis muscle serves to curl your fingers toward your palm, which you do all the time when making a fist. The function of this muscle is pivotal though. It is important in the function of making a fist and may prevent falling when walking by gripping onto things.
The flexor carpi ulnaris muscle helps to bend the wrist and also helps with opposition of the hand. The dorsal interossei muscles are three sets of muscles that allow for abduction (movement away from the center of the body) and adduction (movement towards the center of your body) in your fingers, which means they help you to spread or separate your fingers.
They also help to rotate your hand, particularly when you make a fist. The lumbricals are small muscles that work to extend your fingers at the metacarpophalangeal joints (basically, straighten your fingers).
Extrinsic muscles of the hand
The extrinsic muscles of the hand are a group of a half dozen muscles that originate from the forearm and attach to the bones in your hand. These muscles help to flex (bend), extend (straighten), adduct (move towards the center of the body), and abduct (move away from the center of the body) your wrist and fingers.
The function for these muscles is to move your wrist, thumb, and finger joints to produce movement of your hands. When you make a fist, you are using your extrinsic muscles to curl your fingers.
Hand strengthening exercises – overview
There are several ways that you can work on strengthening your hand muscles, but here are some of the most common and effective methods that you can use:
Hand gripper exercises
If you have a hand gripper, you can use that to strengthen your hand muscles. All you have to do is open and close the hand gripper to mimic how your hands move when making a fist.
Make sure that you are using the correct motion with the gripper so as not to hurt yourself or damage anything in your hands or wrists. You should open up the gripper as wide as you can and close it as far as you can. That way, the muscles of your hand are working to curl your fingers.
Squeeze a ball
You can also squeeze a tennis ball or a rubber ball tightly between your hands to strengthen your hand muscles. If you have a bad back or wrist pain, this may not be a good thing to do. If that is the case, then try squeezing a ball with just your fingers instead of doing it with your palms as well.
Do whichever variation works for you and feels ok on your hands and wrists.
Squeeze stress balls
Stress balls are another great way to help strengthen your hand muscles. You don’t have to do it while squeezing the stress ball, but you can just hold it in your hand and squeeze it while doing other things like watching TV or reading.
This is a very easy and convenient way to strengthen your hands and get more dexterity in them as well!
Do push ups
Like with squeezes, you can do push ups to work on your hand muscles. This exercise is good for strengthening not only your hands, but also the rest of your limbs as well.
You should start off with doing regular or diamond push ups with a flat stretch in the starting position, then graduate yourself into using wrist weights (which are basically like heavy bracelets that you wear around one wrist).
Exercise your fingers
Last but not least, you can exercise your fingers by bending them and curling them. You should start off using a little resistance from another object or even water, then try to do it without that as well.
This is a very important step in strengthening the muscles of your hands!
Specific hand strengthening exercises
There are many exercises that can be practiced in order to increase hand grip strength regularly without the help of other people or special equipment needed for performing these activities. Some of these activities include:
- Finger curling- This requires the closing and opening your fingers repeatedly and quickly to strengthen and lift up your forearms.
- Thumb walking- Participants could use a dowel, ruler or stick for this exercise which involves placing the hands on one side with palms down and pressing it against each other. The thumb of one hand should be pressed against the other fingers and vice versa.
- Two-pound ball squeeze- This requires squeezing a two pound ball repetitively to lift the forearms up.
- Finger tip push ups- Participants can use their fingertips for this exercise by pressing them slowly on a flat surface and pushing it to raise the forearms up.
- Wrist roll- This requires participants to place their hands on a flat surface with palms down and rolling them for an increase in grip strength.
- Finger abduction or separation – Participants can use dowels, rulers or sticks again to keep the fingers separated while lifting it slowly on both sides of the hand.
- Pinch grip- In this activity, participants can use a two pound object for each hand and picking it up from the flat surface. They should be holding the objects in between their thumb and pointer finger with their elbows locked when lifting it up.
- Light-use leisure activities like painting, drawing or puzzles.
In order to achieve better results with these exercises, participants need to do these activities regularly. Hand grip strength should be strengthened three to five times a week for around ten minutes each session.
It is not advisable to start with high resistance weights since the hands may get injured due to the lack of sufficient muscle strength. Gradually increasing hand grip strength can also lead to better results in achieving their fitness goals.
The frequency and duration that these activities are being practiced is important in getting stronger hands.
How to avoid injury when working with your hands
It’s important to be careful when working with your hands in order to avoid any injury. Some things to do to avoid injury include:
- Wearing gloves – especially when handling something that may irritate the skin, like pesticides or paint
- Periodically standing up and stretching your muscles. Upper body stretches while performing wrist exercises and stretching the fingers and thumb at the same time. Stretching the fingers and thumb are very important for building a stronger grip, especially the index finger if you have weak hands.
- Try not to handle too many heavy items at once – if you’re holding a heavy item and there’s another one in your hand, try putting the heavy one down and switching hands with the light one
- Make sure you have a good strong grip on the thing you’re holding – if it’s too hard to hold onto, try not to do it. Ask someone for help instead.
There are many more things that people do in order to avoid injury from working with their hands, but this is just a short list of some common Do’s and Don’ts.
Remember, not paying attention and taking care of your body while working with your hands can result in unexpected and very harmful injuries!
Tips for preventing hand fatigue
Prevention of weariness in your hands is fairly easy. All you have to do is take care of your body while working on with your hands. Some things to remember are:
- Wear gloves when handling something that may irritate the skin, for example paint or pesticides
- Immobilize any heavy object you are holding with one hand so you can switch hands
- When it becomes difficult to hold an object, put it down and get help from another person instead of trying to carry it alone
- Avoid using both hands when being asked to hold a heavy object. If this isn’t possible, just use one hand instead and gently lift heavy objects carefully.
Preventing carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a serious occupational injury that occurs from repetitive motion. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pain, numbness, and weakness in the hand and fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by a combination of factors. There are many ways to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from happening.
First, you should know that your wrists should be flexible. This means that it is important to have a good range of motion. In addition, you should make sure your wrists are positioned correctly while typing on a keyboard or using any other tapping task.
Secondly, make sure to take breaks from work every few minutes (10-15 minutes or so). You need your hands for other tasks as well!
Lastly, make sure to use proper equipment such as desk chairs and keyboards if you’re working on a computer.
There are many more tips to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, but this article isn’t long enough to be able to fit it all in! You may need to seek help from a physical therapist or doctor who can provide medical advice.
Preventing hand injury in sports
Hand injuries are fairly common for people who participate in any sport. After all, it’s hard to avoid injuring your hands while you’re trying to do something. However, there are some things that will help to prevent hand pain and injury during sports.
- – Wear gloves (see a pattern here!) or any other protective gear that may be necessary depending on the type of sport you’re playing
- – Keep your hands warm at the beginning of the game by wrapping them up in a towel, soaking in warm water or wearing gloves
- – Make sure to keep your fingers strong by exercising them regularly, and practice fitting in wrist curls, rubber band stretching, finger lift, soft stress ball, reverse wrist curls, spring loaded hand gripper, soft ball, and other of the hand muscles and wrist exercises listed in this article.
- – If you’re in the middle of playing a sport, take a break when you can to avoid injury
- – Before starting any sports activity, make sure your hand is ready for it by making sure they are warmed up and stretching out before beginning. Just like weight training or any other physical exercise regimen. Don’t neglect good nutrition, either.
An injury to your hand can be extremely painful and can turn into something worse if it isn’t taken care of properly.
Prevention of arthritis in the hand by strengthening your joints and ligaments around them
The joints and ligaments around the hand are all interconnected. If one of them is weak, then it can cause other parts to become weaker too. This could lead to arthritis in the hands.
The only way to prevent this from happening is by strengthening these joints and ligaments with exercises listed above that involve both your hands at once, like doing push-ups or lifting weights while standing on an exercise ball. It will take time for you to see results but if you stick with it, they’ll be worth it!
It’s time to get stronger hands
We hope that this article has helped you learn about the importance of keeping your hands strong. There are many ways to do develop hand strengthening , but one thing is for sure: if you don’t take care of them then they will get weaker over time.