Three Ways to Build Stronger, Healthier Hands
Aug 10, 2020
You may not know this, but you want strong and healthy hands. Not only are strong hands correlated with a longer life expectancy, but they also allow for a greater quality of life.
Wait, you probably do know this though.
You know how awesome it is to be that person people hand the stubborn jar of salsa to when they can’t open it? The ability to calmly grab the jar with a firm grip, without fear of failure, without a grimace of face, and smoothly twist the lid so that it reveals that soothing “pop” sound of freshness.
You’ve experienced this right? Nothing turns desperate, yet hopeful eyes into gleams of gratitude and admiration like being able to open the stubborn jar. It’s an instant hero maker.
“Give it to Bob, he can open it.”
“Man, did you see Bob just twist that lid off like it was nothing? Wow!”
“Yeah, good thing I loosened it for him…”
Anyway, healthy, strong hands are also correlated with healthy, happy shoulders and strong midsections too. Again, these are things that just seem to make life easier and more enjoyable.
So how do you get healthy, strong hands? You use them, of course! That is, you use them and challenge them beyond texting, typing, eating and driving. There’s a lot you can do, but here are three simple things can strengthen your hands and increase their health:
#1 - Crawl
Crawling on your hands and knees is a great way to mobilize the joints in your hands and fingers, especially if you imagine you are a cat so that you are moving your wrists and hands through their natural range of motion. Gently moving the wrist from flexion to extension is fantastic for restoring the mobility of the wrist, and rolling from the heel of the palm through the fingers is a great way to extend the joints of the hand. Not only that, when you crawl, you are gently loading your hands, which strengthens the muscles in your hands. This also strengthens your shoulders as well.
#2 - Hanging
Hanging improves your grip strength. And, your shoulder health. No wonder strong hands are correlated with healthy shoulders. Both crawling and hanging seem to encourage that relationship. Anyway, hanging for time is a great way to strengthen your grip. An easy way to practice hanging is to set up one of those doorway pull-up bars in your house and then practice hanging a little every day. You can hang with your feet on the floor, with different grips, with your legs tucked up, or however your want. There are so many ways to challenge your grip with hanging. It’s simple, and almost easy!
#2.5 - Carries
If hanging is not an option for you, you can just carry heavy things by your side. A suitcase, a heavy bucket, or a kettlebell work great for this. Suitcase carries are basically standing or walking hangs - the object is hanging from you. Carries are fantastic grip strengtheners.
#3 - The Rapid Open
Ok, this one is a gift from me to you.
John Brookfield, the Father of Grip Strength and all things horrific taught me this. What you do is open and close your hand as fast as you can for a minute. You can do sets of this if you want, but you may not want to as it’s pretty humbling and surprising. This fries the extensors, which means it ultimately can make them much stronger. Most of us are really good at closing our hands as they naturally want to draw up at rest. Opening our hands takes effort. But, strong extensors are important for the overall health of our hands. Which means strong hand extensors are important for the overall health of our bodies. Try this, one hand at a time, open and close your hand as fast as you can for one minute. Heck, do three rounds of this a day for a week and see what you discover. Just for fun and the sake of learning.
(You just tried it now, didn't you? What did you think?)
There you go.Three simple things you can do to strengthen and improve the health of your hands.
And you do want healthy hands, if for no other reason than to be the hero at the salsa party. After all, no one wants to be the person that has to get Bob to open the jar of salsa, right?