Strong hands and fingers

Our hands and fingers are anatomically complicated areas of our bodies consisting of 27 bones, and for us human beings they play an important role in how we function in both our body and sign language.  It’s fascinating to learn that the 10 digits of two hands, and also the 12 phalanges of 4 fingers (touchable by the thumb), gave rise to our number systems and calculation techniques.  The eight short carpal wrist bones organized into a proximal row work with the bones of the forearm, and a distal row work with the bases of the five metacarpal bones of the hand. The heads of these metacarpals work with the bases of our fingers and thumb (knuckles). Our four fingers each consist of three phalanx bones but our thumb has just two, making a total of fourteen phalanges on each hand.

Most of us will have experienced a minor problem with a finger or bones in the hand or wrist which is not at all surprising because problems occur due to overuse or from everyday wear and tear.  Some problems are caused by injuries but many are the natural process of age, and home treatment is often all that is needed to relieve symptoms.

But it maybe that your fingers, hands, or wrists are swollen, or they burn, hurt, or feel tired, sore, stiff, numb, cold or tingly. Some people will find their hands have turned a different colour such as red or blue as they’ve aged, or bony knobs on finger joints have appeared, possibly a sign of arthritis. But the hands and fingers are also areas where many people experience pain as the years roll by.  Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect any joint in your body, including those in your hands and fingers in which case you may experience swelling, or stiffness in the fingers, especially in the morning and your joints feel warm, tender to the touch and don’t move as well as they did!

We need strong wrists and fingers to do everyday tasks like carrying groceries, equipment, opening jars, and lifting suitcases or young children.  Strong wrists, hands and fingers are especially important for manoeuvring movements in order to complete everyday tasks, and to maintain body positions during work and play to avoid injury. But far too many of us (and that includes me) spend long periods of time in front of our computers, typing for hours, with resulting aches and pains.  We spend a lot of the day with our elbows bent and our hands in a pronated position (palms turned down).  A lot of stress is put on our hands and wrists over the course of a day, so we should take time out to care for these hard workers! Simple stretches and exercises can help eliminate pain and build strong, useful hands. Hands supinated (palms turned up) will counterbalance the stresses and strains. 

Ex 1   PRAY         To relax hands, wrists and arms when at computer         

Sit back from your computer and lift both arms and elbows up in front of chest.  With fingertips pointing upwards place them together in praying position.  Now stretching out your fingers and wrists press palms and base of hands together very hard.   Hold for 10 seconds.  Relax and repeat 5 times

Ex 2   FISTS         To strengthen hand, fingers and increase range of movement.

Make a gentle fist and wrap your thumb across your fingers.  Squeeze very hard and hold for 10 seconds. Release and spread your fingers out wide as possible and hold for 10 seconds.  Repeat with both hands at 5 times.

Ex 3   GRIP          To improve strength and grip

Place a soft ball in your palm.  Simply squeeze it as hard as possible, hold for 10 secs and release.  Repeat 5 times in each hand

Ex 4   SHAKE OUT       To relax hands and release cramp

Simply lift up and shake your hands as if you are drying them after washing. Keep shaking rapidly 20 times. Relax and repeat 5 times.

Ex 5  PULL BACKS     To release tension and improve flexibility of wrist

Extend your right arm and hand out in front of you with fingers pointing upwards.   With the left hand use pressure to pull your fingers back towards you and hold for 10 seconds.  Relax and repeat 5 times.  Now extend left arm and using right hand repeat the stretching exercise.