Get a grip: Strengthen your hands and wrists

By Jay Hiller, August 16, 2022

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

I didn’t really appreciate my left wrist until I couldn’t count on it anymore. I’m not sure exactly how I hurt it two years ago. Sometimes I think it was the dog pulling on her leash. Sometimes I think it was holding a bar that was slightly bent when I was lifting weights. (A pandemic find that my husband fished out of a dumpster for me. I loved it.) It just hurt anytime I turned my hand so that my thumb was pointing away from my body. It eventually got better and in the process of waiting for it to get better, I learned some things about wrists and hands.

In the book, Yoga Bones, yoga teacher and occupational therapist Laura Staton explains that the dexterity in our fingers requires longer muscles and tendons than our forearms can accommodate. 18 of those muscles span the hands, move into the forearms and cross the elbow joint. Our fingers don’t have any muscles. They’re controlled by the muscles in our forearms. When I learned that I started massaging my forearms a lot. Foam rolling the outside of my arm pit was really good for my wrist. I did some of the exercises in the Yoga Bones book, being careful not to push through pain, because I really didn’t understand what was wrong. My yoga teacher, Michelle Norris, had a great exercise, that I still like a lot. You take a towel or yoga blanket and you lay it down in front of you in a messy lump. Then you use your fingers to straighten out the wrinkles. You can also knead it like bread.

As I mentioned my wrist, no longer hurts. And I have this gadget, pictured below, the Dynatomy Varigrip Sport Hand Exerciser and Grip Strengthener. It lives in my purse. I sometimes forget I have it and I’m using it more and more. You can control the resistance to each finger. It’s fun to pull out and fidget with and not especially expensive.

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