Helping Hands

If you answer “No” to one or more of these questions, you may not be getting the most out of your workout.

Those with osteoarthritis know the pain and difficulty of performing simple tasks. Movements that used to be second nature like opening a jar, slicing an apple, or typing on a keyboard get more difficult as the days go by.

Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that only affects certain joints in the body and slowly gets worse over time. The hands, hips, knees, and feet are most often affected and those with the condition experience pain, stiffness, weakness, and a reduced range of motion.

Osteoarthritis in the hands is usually felt at the bottom of the thumb where it connects to your wrist, at the joints in your fingers nearest the tips, and in the middle finger. Along with medication, steroid injections, rest, hot/cold treatments, medicated creams, and finger splints, hand exercises are a recommended form of treatment to relieve pain and increase mobility.

Seven hand exercises are described below for those who suffer from osteoarthritic hands. Remember, only stretch until you feel a tightness, and never stretch to the point of pain. Repeat each exercise several times for each hand. Most exercises can be done one hand at a time or both at once. Always get your doctor’s clearance before starting new treatments.

Exercise #1: Make a Fist

Start with a relaxed hand, and then make a fist and wrap your thumb across the tops of your fingers. Hold this gentle fist for 30 seconds to a minute. Relax your hand and straighten and spread your fingers apart.

Exercise #2: Finger Lifts

Rest your hand palm down on a flat surface. One at a time, lift each finger off the table, hold for a couple seconds, and then lower it back down.

Exercise #3: Knuckle Bends

Bend your arm at the elbow and hold your hand straight up so your fingers are pointing to the sky. Start with your thumb and bend it until it touches your palm. Hold for a few seconds and relax. Then bend your index finger until the tip touches your palm, relax, and continue bending each finger one at a time.

Exercise #4: Wrist Stretch

The fingers aren’t the only cause of pain for osteoarthritis sufferers. The wrists can be tight and painful as well. To stretch your wrists, hold your right arm out parallel to the floor with your palm facing up. Take you left hand and gently press your right palm down until you feel a slight stretch in your wrist. Hold for a few seconds, and then relax. Now turn your right palm to face downward and use your left hand to gently press the top of your right hand down until you feel a slight stretch. Hold a few seconds, and relax. Switch hands.

Exercise #5: Finger Stretch

Lay your hands on a level surface with your palms facing down. Gently flatten your hand and straighten your fingers. Hold for 30–60 seconds, then relax.

Exercise #6: Finger Bends

Finger bends are similar to knuckle bends, but you’re bending your fingers at their joints, not at the knuckles. Bend your arm at the elbow and hold your hand up. With your fingers straight and touching each other, bend your fingers one at a time at the middle and end joints while keeping your knuckles straight.

Exercise #7: Thumb Stretch

This exercise focuses on the thumb joint. Relax your hand and straighten your fingers. Then bend your thumb and stretch it across your palm until it reaches the bottom of your pinky finger (or as far as it will comfortably go). Hold it there for a few seconds then move it back to starting position.



Allan Alguire

Back to Home