One of the players I work with at the Hawthorn Football Club, Mitchell Lewis, was recently interviewed on television. Mitch mentioned how a hand strengthening program I had set up for him had helped him improve his football this year.
Hand strength and activity
Research has confirmed that strong hands are associated with good health. There is no doubt that improving your hand strength is useful in sports like football or rock climbing, as well as in less active pursuits like gardening or cooking. Targeting an area of hand weakness can also reduce hand pain. Although squeezing a stress ball might help a little, there are better and more specific ways to make your hands stronger.
All the hand muscles work together
Your hand has muscles that begin in your forearm and end in your fingers as well as muscles that begin and end in your hand. Both sets of muscles need to work together to ensure you have good hand strength and mobility. Making a fist is not enough. It is also important to open and close your fingers against resistance. Make certain you are working them through a full range of motion and you will exercise them all.
Improving your hand strength
There is a countless variety of methods and equipment that can be used to improve hand strength. I start by measuring grip and pinch strength and comparing this to recognised norms. Then, based on a discussion with the patient about their needs, we develop an appropriate program. Theraputty is a very versatile product that I often recommend, and it comes in a variety of resistances. I also use ring grips, doughnut grips, and special techniques in the gym like plate and weighted ball holds.
Just like in the gym, not everyone needs the same hand strengthening program. I will individualise a program for you based on your activity needs or your injury history. A few minutes a day can make a world of difference.