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Use These Household Items to Treat Hand or Wrist Pain

Updated on January 26, 2014

What causes hand or wrist pain?

The answer is usually one or a combination of the following: arthritis, injury, or weakness. Often it is weakness that contributes to the advancement of arthritis or injuries. As the underlying cause for so many problems, it is important that we strengthen the hands in order to avoid these conditions.

A problem we have today is that our hands are always in a clenched position. Clenched around a mouse, curled over a keyboard, gripping a smartphone. How often do you open your hands against the same type of resistance? Likely, not too often. Your extensors, the muscles that open your hand, are probably underdeveloped. This is why your knuckles hurt after a long day of typing, for example.

The same is true in the wrist. Your wrists are probably underdeveloped because you don't use them very much. A lot of us sit with our wrists resting on a desk for most of the day. There is no real development in the wrist because your body has never been stimulated to develop in that area. This is completely natural. Your body is very efficient. It will do what you ask of it, but without a challenge it has no reason to become stronger. Fortunately, weak hands and wrists are easily strengthened using the body's natural ability to respond to exercise.

Household Item #1: Rubber band

Yes, that's right! A simple rubber band can help you develop strong, pain-free fingers and hands. You will want to use a wide rubber band for the best results. The thinner version generally does not provide enough resistance.

The rubber band can be used to develop all the extensors at once by wrapping it around the tips of the thumb and fingers. Stretch the rubber band by opening your hand. Hold for 5-10 seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat for 8-10 reps, 3 sets per hand. For a more targeted approach, use a shorter rubber band and wrap it around only the weakest fingers. This would be a good rehab exercise if you are coming back from a broken or sprained finger.

Closed position, open position, and targeted strengthening
Closed position, open position, and targeted strengthening

Household Item #2: Hammer

A hammer is a useful tool for construction. In this case we aren't building anything out of wood; we're building strength in the wrists and hands! Hold the hammer with the head pointed at the floor and your arm held against your side. Bending only at the wrist, raise the hammer slowly and hold at the top for 2 or 3 seconds. Let the hammer drop, slowly, completely controlling its descent. Do not allow the hammer to fall quickly back down without any resistance, or you may end up dropping it and hurting yourself. Perform 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions per side.

Hammer should end up slightly higher than parallel to the floor
Hammer should end up slightly higher than parallel to the floor

Feel free to choke up on the handle if the hammer is too heavy. You can work your way down the handle to provide a greater challenge as you get stronger in the future.

Gripping the handle higher is an option for beginners
Gripping the handle higher is an option for beginners

Hold the hammer with a reverse grip to work the other side of the wrist. Again, try to focus on holding at the top and then slowly controlling the hammer's descent. As with the standard grip, you can also choke up on the handle if needed. Perform 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions per side.

Train the other side of the wrist using a reverse grip
Train the other side of the wrist using a reverse grip

How often should I train my hands and wrists?

Sample routine, perform 2-3 times per week:

  • 3 sets rubber bands, 8-10 reps each
  • 3 sets hammers, 8-10 reps each
  • 3 sets reverse hammers, 8-10 reps each

You will probably want to rest at least a day between workouts to give your hands a chance to recover. Eventually this routine may start to seem a bit too easy. At that point you can start using thicker rubber bands, a longer hammer, or simply increase the number of sets or reps. You'll know when you're ready for more. Take it slow, but don't take it easy!

What will these exercises do for you?

All the exercises above are great for building functional strength in the hands and wrists. By challenging your weak areas, you will eventually develop a muscular balance which makes regular tasks feel much easier than before. You will probably notice increased strength after only a few sessions. The body tends to recover fast in response to new stimuli. You may not be feeling the same pain as before, either. Why take Aleve or some other pain medication every day if you are able to get stronger instead? You will save money and also avoid the side effects of these often unnecessary medications. There is nothing to lose here, so give it a go!

© 2014 practicalfitness


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