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4 Simple Hand Exercises to Alleviate Arthritis Symptoms

 Arthritis wears away at the cartilage that cushions our joints and keeps them healthy and pain-free. Over time, this process of gradual but steady damage to the joints becomes more noticeable and painful. With more damage comes more inflammation, stiffness, weakness, and pain, especially after repetitive tasks like typing on the keyboard or using kitchen utensils. Medications and dietary changes can help reduce these worrisome symptoms in the long run, but if you’re looking for instant arthritis relief, exercises are probably the best option.
Hand exercises for arthritis strengthen the muscles that support the joints. They also increase the production of synovial fluid that lubricates the joints. As a result, you will experience pain relief and improved range of motion of your hands and wrists right away. With consistent practice, you will also notice more flexibility and a better grip, so these exercises are definitely worth trying.

Exercise 1. Stretch your wrists to relieve stiffness and pain

Hand Exercises for Arthritis wrist stretches

Start by giving your hands and wrists a general warmup. This will lubricate the joints, preparing them for the exercises to follow. Wrists can also get stiff from arthritis, and these exercises help improve their flexibility.

Follow these steps to perform the stretch:

Downward Stretch
Hold your arms out straight in front of you, with one palm facing down.
2. Use the other hand to press down on the hand that’s facing down. Be gentle, you should feel a stretch on the tops of the palm, wrist, and arm, but no sharp pain.
3. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then release. Repeat 5-10 times, and then do the same on the opposite side.

Upward Stretch
Hold your arms out straight in front of you, with one palm facing up.
2. Use the other hand to press on the base of the palm that’s facing up until you sense a pleasant stretch in the inner part of the wrist and arm.
3. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then release. Repeat 5-10 times, and then follow the same steps on the opposite side.

Related Article: 3 Easy Exercises to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Exercise 2. Strengthen hand muscles with sequential finger bends

Hand Exercises for Arthritis sequential finger bends

This exercise is like a pushup for your fingers and the base of the palm. It helps strengthen the hand muscles and will improve your grip and flexibility. In this exercise, you will need to bend each finger one after the other.

There are two ways you can do this exercise. If your fingers are relatively flexible, you can bend the finger completely until the fingertip rests where the base of the finger meets the palm. Alternatively, you can bend the finger to meet your thumb, as shown in the image above - this is an easier version of this exercise.

The exercise itself is pretty straightforward. Here are the steps: 

1. Start in the same position, but with only one of your hands held up straight.
2. Bend your pinkie down toward your palm (or the thumb). Hold this position for 5 seconds.
3. Straighten the pinkie, and then bend the ring finger for 5 seconds. Release, straighten, and move on to the middle finger, and so.
4. When you get to the thumb, simply bend it towards the palm and hold for 5 seconds.
5. Repeat the same exercise on the other hand. You can do this exercise several times throughout the day.

Exercise 3. Do the “O” or “C” finger bend whenever your hand is feeling stiff

Hand Exercises for Arthritis O finger bend
Unlike the previous task, where we exercised each finger separately, this finger bend activates all the muscles together, which brings relief to hands that feel stiff and weak. Just like the previous exercise, there are two methods of doing this finger bend. The “O” stretch is more advanced and challenging, whereas the “C” stretch is the easier one. 

Here are the steps:

1. As the name suggests, this exercise requires you to curve all of your fingers in until they form a shape similar to the letter “C” or “O”.
2. Hold for 5 seconds, then release and straighten the fingers.
3. Repeat 5-10 times on each hand.

Exercise 4. Improve strength and relieve stiffness with these variations of a fist

Hand Exercises for Arthritis

This is probably the easiest and most straightforward exercise we will show you. It’s also the last one. You can do it anywhere and anytime, which makes it a great option for instant stiffness relief.

As before, we will walk you through 2 versions of this exercise. The easier one only requires bending your fingers halfway, whereas the more advanced variation requires you to make a full fist. Follow these steps:

1. Hold your arms out straight in front of you, with all the fingers straight.
2. Slowly bend your hand into a fist halfway, as shown in the image on the right. Your thumb should be on the outside of the hand. 
3. You can stop here and hold this position for 5 seconds. Alternatively, you can bend your fingers inward completely, as shown in the image on the left, and hold.
4. Open the hand and straighten the fingers. Repeat the exercise 10 times on each hand.

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