Strengthening Exercises From The Pros
Hand, wrist, and elbow pain can be caused by various factors such as overuse, injury, or underlying medical conditions. Consulting with a hand therapist or other medical professional when pain is present is vital for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. In addition to any prescribed medical treatment, hand therapists often recommend the following strengthening exercises to help improve function and reduce pain.
1. Wrist curls
Sit with the arm resting on a table and the palm facing up. Use a lightweight object, such as a can of soup, water bottle, or dumbbell, slowly lift the object up and down, bending and straightening the wrist. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each arm. Incorporate wrist curls into daily activities such as watching television or during a work break.
2. Finger extensions
Place a rubber band around the fingers and slowly spread the fingers apart against the resistance of the band while keeping the wrist straight. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each hand to improve hand strength.
3. Grip strengthener
Use a grip strengthener device, such as a hand gripper, squeeze ball, or tennis ball, to squeeze and release repeatedly. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each hand. Begin with a moderate level of resistance and gradually increase the difficulty.
4. Thumb opposition
Place a small object, such as a marble, in the palm of the hand and use the thumb and the tip of another finger to pick the object up and place back down. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each hand. Thumb opposition exercises can help improve the thumb’s strength and range of motion (ROM), essential for activities such as holding a pencil, typing, or gripping small objects.
5. Elbow extension
Sit with the arm by the side and a lightweight object, such as a can of soup, in hand. Slowly lift the arm straight out in front of the body and hold for a few seconds before lowering the arm back down. Once again, perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each arm.
Slowly build back strength
Starting slowly and gradually increasing the number of repetitions and the weight as hand strength improves is the best way to prevent injury, build back muscle, and improve motor skills. Pain and discomfort should not be a part of the strengthening process, so stop the exercise immediately if the activity is uncomfortable.
Patients experiencing hand, wrist, or elbow pain who want to try strengthening exercises should consult a hand therapist or other medical professional to ensure the exercises are appropriate. Consistently performing the recommended repetitions can improve the success of recovery from an injury.