Beginner hand exercises for relieving arthritis

You ease pain of arthritis by building up muscles that support your arthritic joints, and hands are no different. Start with these basic exercises and then move on to more challenging ones.

Beginner hand exercises for relieving arthritis

Towel grab

  • Lay a hand towel flat on a tabletop. Place your right hand on the edge of the towel palm-down so that your fingers are on the edge of the towel, but the rest of your hand is off it.
  • Slowly pull the towel toward the palm of your hand by bending all four fingers inward. Continue for the entire length of the towel. Repeat with the other hand.
  • If arthritis pain or stiffness makes it difficult to pull a hand towel, start with a washcloth. To add resistance, the towel can be dampened with warm water.

Spider walk

The movement in this exercise is a variation on the towel grab, but the weight of your arm provides more resistance.

  • Place your right hand palm-down on a tabletop.
  • Using your fingers, pull your palms across the table as far as you can comfortably reach. Repeat with the other hand.
  • As you get stronger, add resistance by using fewer fingers to draw your hand across and alternate the exercise on different fingers to make sure each one gets a workout. Use as many or as few fingers as feels comfortable.

Wrist curl

This exercise works the wrist along with the entire forearm.

  • Sit in a chair with your forearms resting on your thighs and your hands extended off your knees with your palms facing upward. Relax your hands, allowing your fingers to drop toward the floor. This is your starting position.
  • Slowly bend your wrists to bring your fingers up so they point toward the ceiling as far as is comfortably possible.
  • Slowly lower your fingers back to the starting position for one repetition.

Wrist extension

Think of this exercise as wrist curls in reverse.

  • Sit in a chair with forearms resting on your thighs and your hands extended over your knee with your palms facing the floor. Relax your wrist so your palms are against the upper part of your shin.
  • Bending at the wrist, lift your hands upward as far as comfortably possible.
  • Slowly lower your hands to the starting position and repeat.

Wrist rotation

  • Sit in a chair, feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Rest your forearms on your thighs and extend your hands over your knees with your palms facing the floor.
  • Make loose fists and, keeping your wrists straight, turn your fists so your palms are up. Then turn them back so your palms are down again for one repetition.
  • You could also do this exercise with your hands open, but making a fist keeps the movement cleaner and prepares you for a more advanced version, in which you hold weights.
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