If you have a bit of arthritis in your hands you’ll know just how painful the condition can be.
Regular use of your hands for tasks you do over and over again can make the discomfort you feel worse, and you might also find that your hand strength is diminished as stiffness increases. It makes everyday tasks, like opening a jar, all the more difficult.
However, exercise can help ease the symptoms of arthritis and it may also lead to improved hand function, reduced risk of depression and fatigue, and even a better night’s sleep.
Here are five exercises you can do in the comfort of your home.
Make a fist
Any time your hands begin to feel stiff, do this exercise. You want to start by holding your hand up straight (obviously, if you only have one hand affected by arthritis you’ll start with that one). Then you want to slowly bend your fingers until you hand is clenched into a fist. Place your thumb on the outside of your hand. Now it’s important not to squeeze the hand here. You want to open the hand back up to the point where your fingers are straight. Try this exercise at least five times with one hand before moving on to the other.
Give me an ‘O’
Starting with your affected hand, you want to curve all of your fingers inward until they touch, or as close as possible. Your fingers should look like the shape of an ‘O’. Hold the position for a few seconds and then allow your fingers to straighten. Repeat the exercise three to five times on one hand and then do the same exercise on the opposite hand. It’s a good exercise for when your hands are feeling achy or stiff.
Get your hand and place it flat on a table, palm down. Start with your thumb, and lift each finger one at a time slowly off the table. You want to hold each finger for at least 2 seconds before you lower it. Do the same activity with each finger on one hand and then change hands and do the exercises all over gain.
Thumb and finger bends
Holding your hand up, start with your thumb. You want to try and bend your thumb inward towards your palm. Hold the position for 2-3 seconds and then release. Repeat the exercise five times, building up to 10 repetitions over time, before moving on to the next finger. Bend your index finger down toward your palm and hold for 2-3 seconds before releasing. Repeat the exercise with your index finger. Move down the line doing the activity on each of your fingers before moving on to the opposite hand.
Your wrists can also get stiff and sore from arthritis, so it’s important to give them a workout too. You want to hold your arm out in front of you with the palm facing down. Then you want to use your opposite hand to gently press down on the hand until you feel a stretch in your wrist and arm. Hold the stretch for five to 10 seconds and then release. Repeat the exercise five times and then switch wrists.