hand exercises for arthritis

7 Senior-Friendly Hand Exercises to Combat Arthritis

Arthritis leads to the degeneration of cartilage in the joints, which normally acts as a cushion between bones. As we age, the wearing-away of cartilage can irritate and inflame the synovial lining of the joint, which is what produces the fluid that lubricates and protects the joints. While arthritis can affect any of the joints in your body, the hands are one of the most commonly afflicted areas, and can lead to pain and stiffness.

Medications are available to treat the pain, but a dose of good old-fashioned exercise can help you keep your hands as limber as possible. These seven hand exercises are senior-friendly and can be performed just about anywhere.

1.     Finger Bends

A simple exercise that keeps the joints in your fingers moving. For best results, perform these bends on each individual finger of both hands.

How to Perform Finger Bends

  • Begin by holding up your right hand straight.
  • Bend your thumb downward in the direction of your palm.
  • Hold the bend for two to five seconds.
  • Straighten your thumb.
  • Repeat on each finger on the right hand.
  • Repeat the entire sequence on the opposite hand.

2.     Make a Fist

While this may seem like a simple exercise, the movements performed when making a fist can help alleviate tension while improving the movement in your finger joints.

How to Make a Fist

  • Start by holding your right hand up and straight (as if you were going to shake someone’s hand). Keep your wrist and forearm close to a tabletop or another flat surface.
  • Close your fingers together to create a gentle fist. Try not to squeeze your fingers into your palms.
  • Slowly and gently return your fingers to the starting position.
  • Repeat multiple times on each hand.

3.     Thumb Bends

This exercise targets the thumbs specifically, and is ideal for seniors who regularly engage in repetitive-motion tasks.

How to Perform a Thumb Bend

  • Start by holding your right hand up and straight – just like you did with the previous exercise.
  • Bend your thumb down and inward toward your palm.
  • The goal is to reach for the bottom of your pinky finger, but don’t worry if you cannot reach that far just yet.
  • Hold the bend for a few seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Repeat on the left hand.

4.     Make a “C”

To get the joints in your upper fingers and lower thumb moving, try performing this simple “C” exercise.

How to Make a “C” With Your Hands

  • Begin with your right hand up and your fingers straight.
  • Curve your fingers downward and your thumb out and to the side to create a “C” shape.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat multiple times on your right hand.
  • Repeat on the left hand.

5.     Finger Lifts

Designed to strengthen each finger, finger lifts will help restore mobility while giving tight hand muscles a good stretch.

How to Perform Finger Lifts

  • Start with your hand palm-side down on the table.
  • Lift your thumb slowly off the table.
  • Hold for two seconds.
  • Gently lower your thumb back down.
  • Repeat on each finger.
  • Repeat the entire sequence on the opposite hand.

6.     Wrist Stretches

Arthritis can extend all the way down to the wrists, which can make it difficult to perform tasks like typing on a computer, opening a jar and cleaning your home. Wrist stretches can help alleviate tension while improving mobility in this important area.

How to Perform Wrist Stretches

  • Begin with your right arm stretched out in front of you, hands flat.
  • Gently press down on your right hand. The tips of your fingers should be facing the floor.
  • Hold the stretch for a few seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Repeat on the left hand.

7.     Give the Okay

This exercise will work each of your fingers while giving your palm a good stretch. The movement will work both the top and bottom joints of the fingers.

  • Begin with your hand up and straight (as if you were going to shake someone’s hand).
  • Create an “O” shape by touching your thumb to your index fingertip.
  • Next, touch your thumb to your middle fingertip.
  • Repeat the same movement on the remaining fingers.
  • Repeat the sequence multiple times.
  • Repeat the entire exercise on the opposite hand.

These 7 exercises can help alleviate joint pain while restoring mobility and building strength. Whether you’re already showing signs of arthritis or are looking to take preventative measures, these exercises will keep your hands and fingers healthy.

Your hand strength is very important is you are using a walking aid. Especially more mobile models like a 3 wheeled rollator (visit this page to see our recommended models). Aids like these are less stable and require more hand strength to operate.

Improving the strength of your entire body is also important to reduce the reliance on walking aids or other devices. Yoga is another great way to stay healthy, strong and flexible as you age.

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