Getting a Grip

Sep. 15

We rely on our hands for so much. To underline how important they are, we need only recall a time when we had a broken wrist, cut on our hand, or even just a lightly sprained finger to see how changed every daily action becomes when we don’t have full function of our hands. From tying our shoes and brushing our hair to using tools and playing musical instruments, it’s obvious our hands are quite capable, so here’s a few ideas on how to keep them that way.

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One of the first things I learned about doing massage is to keep my wrists neutral when doing a repetitive motion. Keeping your wrists neutral means not having it bent one way or the other, just straight. This is important because, as I discussed with the Doorway Stretch, muscles get extra tired out when they work from a long position.

 

Here’s two examples of the wrist flexion muscles working from a long position.

 

Of course, there’s a reason wrists can bend; I’m not suggesting you keep them straight all the time. But think of any activity your hands do all the time, like typing, cooking, sawing down trees, biking, playing tennis, whatever you do—those are times when being mindful of the position of your wrists can really make a difference.

Another way to lessen the wear and tear of your hands and wrists is to lighten up your grip. Oftentimes, we use more strength than is needed, such as when holding a toothbrush, eating utensils, a car’s steering wheel, or using a touch-screen device. Choose an activity and take a moment to notice how much effort you are using. Can you lighten your hold on the toothbrush and still successfully clean your teeth? Save some of that strength for those moments when it really matters.

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Finally, here are a couple stretches for the wrists:

extensors

Curl your fist into flexion and gently push it until you feel a slight resistance on the back of your hand.

flexors

Gently push your full hand into extension until your feel a slight resistance in your palm and fingers. You can also stretch each finger individually.

 

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