Our hands and fingers are incredibly complex. Each hand consists of 27 bones, 34 muscles and several groups of joints.
Movement of the hands and fingers can take place in a multitude of combinations. As I type this article, I’m using a multitude of muscles and joints, working in perfect combination with one another.
To help tone your hands, try the following exercises. Start with your fingers as straight as possible. When you bend your fingers – depending on which muscles are actively contracting – allow a multitude of variations in movements.
You can flex every joint in your fingers by making a fist. You can flex your knuckles but keep your fingers straight. And you can flex just the end two joints in your fingers.
Interestingly, try and do this for each individual finger. The dexterity and finer movements change as you progress to your ring or fifth fingers. This has to do with the anatomy of the tendons that attach to the hand.
When you combine this movement with your thumb, which can literally move in all directions, it is incredibly amazing to see how complex the hand can be.
As a result, when we look at exercises for the hand, it is important to include the wrist and forearm complex. A large number of the muscles that allowed you to move your fingers in a variety of permutations actually originated further up the forearm and near the elbow. Of the muscles that control movement in the fingers and hand, 18 originate in the forearm.
Just like with any other muscle group, the flexibility, strength and endurance of fingers and wrists can be improved. Likewise, without regular use, flexibility and strength can decrease.
Maintaining mobility of the wrist and fingers can be done simply without any equipment. In order to maintain mobility around the fingers, try straightening and splaying your fingers as wide as you can. For wrist mobility, try the ‘prayer’ exercise. Keeping both palms together, try taking your elbows out to the side as far as you are comfortable.
Strengthening the wrist and fingers can be done with basic equipment readily found at home. In order to maintain finger strength, use a rubber band. Try utilising a rubber band between your thumb and index finger. Move both fingers against the resistance of the band in a variety of directions. This exercise can then be modified between the thumb and other fingers.
Another important thing to maintain strength in is grip. Grip strength is critical on a daily basis. Whether it be for opening jars, turning taps on or even opening the car door. Grip strength requires a number of components to work in conjunction with one another. A great exercise to improve grip strength at home is wringing out a towel. Importantly, practise wringing out a towel in both directions using both hands.
Whether you experience pain and stiffness around the hands or are symptom-free, these exercises can be readily performed at home. Give them a go and let me know what you think.
Jason Lee is a qualified physiotherapist and happy to answer any questions you may have. Simply send an email to [email protected]