Do you feel like you’re losing your grip when you try to hold on to simple everyday items? If you’re noticing more finger stiffness or feel like your grip is slipping away as you get older you’re in the right place because in this video I have 3 quick and easy hand exercises for older adults you can do everyday.
These moves will loosen up your stiff fingers, increase your range of motion, and improve your hand strength without putting excessive stress on your fingers.
All you need is a firm ball.
I prefer this yoga therapy tune up ball because it is slightly smaller than your average tennis ball. It conforms nicely into your palm and supports all your finger and thumb joints. Just make sure the ball you use is not too soft or too large.
You can also follow along with me in my Best 3 Hand Exercises for Older Adults YouTube video here-
Let’s get started!
Exercise 1- Active Hook Fist
You won’t need the ball for this exercise. In my opinion, hook fists are highly underrated hand exercises for older adults.
Actually for anyone, of any age!
The hook, also known as the claw, targets the small joints of all our fingers and as we get older these DIP and PIP joints start to stiffen up and lose mobility.
But we need to keep these small joints flexible for grasping and pinching objects of all shapes and sizes.
To do the hook fist, start with your fingers straight.
Next, actively bend the tip and middle joints of all your fingers but keep your large knuckles straight. Think of bending from the tops of your fingers first.
I find that keeping my other hand in my palm can prevent the large knuckles from wanting to bend. It’s important to block them because it makes the small joints move more which is what we want.
It’s also important not to flex too hard at first. Once you bend both joints down to what is comfortable, hold for a few seconds then straighten. Shoot for 10 repetitions on each hand to start.
Exercise 2- Isometric Ball Grips
This is a whole hand strengthening exercise and you will need the firm ball.
To do this exercise, place the ball in the palm of your hand and make sure your fingers and thumb are comfortably supported by the ball. Place your hand down on a table or your lap. The table, or your lap, will support the ball in your palm.
Next, you want to press your fingertips and thumb into the ball, make sure your fingers and thumb maintain contact with the ball. Hold for 5 seconds, then relax. Let’s do 10 repetitions on both hands.
I really like this one because an isometric contraction not only works on strength but also endurance. Plus it can be far more effective than repetitive squeezing or gripping because it’s similar to how you might use your hand with everyday use.
Exercise 3- Thumb Slides on a Ball
This last hand exercise will workout your thumb. Your thumb is nearly half your hand function. If you don’t work on your thumb range of motion and strength, your hand will continue to feel weak.
Grab that ball again and curl all your fingers and thumb around the ball. Make sure the tips of your fingers and thumb are gently pressing into the ball.
Place your hand down on a table or your lap. Again use the table, or your lap, to support your thumb and fingers around the ball.
Next, slide your thumb across the ball away from your index finger. Move your thumb as far as you comfortably can, making a ‘C’ with your thumb and fingers. Make sure you are making contact with the ball.
You don’t want to lift the thumb off the ball, just slide. And if you can’t make a full ‘C’ that is okay, slide your thumb to what feels good.
Make sure you feel a contraction of your thumb muscles at the base of your thumb. Hold 2-3 seconds, then slide the thumb back towards your index finger. Repeat for 10 repetitions on both hands.
And there you have the 3 best hand exercises for older adults to do everyday to keep your hands strong as you age. Fortunately, there are many ways to tailor these exercises depending on how they feel for you.
Some tips you may find helpful are to reduce, or increase, the amount of force or pressure you apply to the ball, reduce or increase your repetitions, and reduce or increase the number of times a day you do them.
As a beginner, I usually recommend starting off with very light pressure because it’s easier and more comfortable to build strength that way.
If you’re not currently happy with your motion or strength, which is probably why you’re here, then do a round of each exercise every day for a month. Once you feel stronger and hopefully start using your hand more, you can reduce it to every other day to sustain your gains.
And if you enjoyed using a ball for your hand workout, then you’ll like my hand strengthening exercises with a ball that don’t require gripping or squeezing.
Cheers to you for wanting to keep your hands strong as you age!