Touch is arguably the most essential sense that we have. Whether it is to play sports, hug someone, or communicate a message. Your hand and wrist mobility are the key to getting things done. As we age, it is natural to start losing strength and flexibility in your hands and fingers. If your hands are in pain, simple tasks like tying your shoes become difficult. So, how can you protect your hands?

Visiting your local orthopaedic hand specialist will save you time and frustration, as they can isolate the problem and provide treatment for your pain. If your condition requires a surgical procedure, your hand specialist can give you the options you need to make an informed decision.

Besides treatment from your hand specialist or physical therapist, there are plenty of hand and wrist exercises that are designed to maintain flexibility and strength. Take a look at these seven exercises that will help you maintain your hand strength and mobility.

The prayer position

This quick and easy stretch helps with hand and wrist flexibility.

Place your palms together in a prayer position and leave your elbows on a solid surface such as a tabletop.

Keeping the palms together, lower the sides of your hands until you feel a stretch. Keep in this position for five to seven seconds and then relax.

Repeat at least three times. 

Hand/finger tendon glide

Starting with your fingers extended straight out, make a hook fist (fold the first two digits of your fingers towards your palm) and then straighten your fingers.

Next, take a full fist and straighten your fingers again.

Finally, make a straight fist (keeping the fingertips extended, fold-down until tips touch your lower palm) and then release. 

Thumb flexion and extension

This one is easy. Simply hold your thumb up like you’re giving the “OK” sign, and then move the thumb towards the palm of your hand. Repeat this for added dexterity. Squeeze. This exercise is perfect for mobility issues.

Finger lifts

Place your hands palm down on a flat surface. Starting with the thumbs, lift each slightly followed by each finger. Repeat eight to ten times to improve dexterity.

Squeeze a tennis ball

A tennis ball is a perfect way to exercise your hand. It allows you to get your fingers limbered up while increasing overall hand strength. Start by squeezing a tennis ball for a few seconds and then releasing it. Try this a few times. After a few reps, you’ll notice that it helps to build up your hand muscles if you keep at it each week. 

Wrist stretch

If you suffer from arthritis, try this wrist stretch. Hold out one of your arms with your palm side down. Use the opposite hand to put slight pressure on top of the extended hand until you feel a stretching in the wrist and arm. Hold for five to ten seconds and release. Repeat this stretch around ten times and then switch to the other hand and wrist.

“C” and “O” exercises

Starting with a straightened hand, pretend you are catching a ball by making a “C” or “O” shape with your fingers, going as far as you can. Straighten your fingers and repeat a few times on each hand to help with flexing issues.

What exercises to avoid

Unless specified by your physician, the easiest way to avoid further injury to your hands and joints is to not overdo it. If you suffer from arthritis, it is recommended that you stay away from gym weights and high-impact sports. Likewise, avoid repetitive sports such as tennis. You do not want to risk aggravating your old injuries or creating new ones. 

What will an orthopaedic hand specialist do for my hand and wrist?

Hand and wrist specialists are extremely helpful when you are experiencing that nagging hand or wrist pain or sports injury. These doctors specialize in bone and joint issues and can perform surgical procedures to help eliminate hand and wrist pain. Consulting with a hand specialist is the best way to find the root cause of your hand or joint problem. 

When you go to your first hand specialist appointment, you can rest assured you will be in the best care possible. Your doctor will perform a thorough examination of the affected area and then recommend the best treatment for your unique situation.

The next step? Contact your local hand specialist and set up a consultation to relieve your hand or joint pain now to prevent problems in the future. At Cary Orthopaedics, Dr. Miles  is our specialist in hand care. Dr. Miles attended Duke University and is board-certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery with subspecialty certification in Surgery of the Hand.

His experience includes working for the University of South Florida Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in Ethiopia and the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) Touching Hands Project as an Operative Team Member in Honduras.