Musculoskeletal hand problems are common in adults over 50 and increase after age 65. Conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, can weaken your hands and finger dexterity over time.
Manual dexterity can be a frustrating ailment to deal with. It can negatively impact activities of daily living and independence. Many of the conditions that contribute to weakened hand strength and finger dexterity can be treated; however, these side effects can simply be brought on by age.
Fortunately, there are hand and finger exercises that can be done to improve strength and manual dexterity. Here are four easy exercises you can do at home to help build dexterity and strength in your hands and fingers.
1. Finger Lifts
Start by placing your hand palm down on a flat surface such as a table. Take turns lifting each finger off the table one at a time. Repeat each finger several times before moving to the next finger. This exercise helps to improve flexibility in your fingers.
2. O Exercise
Begin by making an O figure with your thumb and index finger. Keep your other fingers as straight as you can. Hold for a few seconds. Bring your index finger back up and repeat the exercise with your remaining fingers. Try to increase your speed while continuing to hold the O for a few seconds each time.
3. Thumb Flexes
Your thumb is vital to manual dexterity as it allows you to grip items. Thumb flexes help to keep your thumb strong and flexible. Start by holding your hand out with your fingers grouped together and your thumb separated. Bend your thumb across your palm until it reaches your pinkie. Hold for a couple of seconds and release. Repeat several times.
4. Make a Fist
This exercise is great for improving strength and dexterity in your joints. Start by making a fist. Squeeze inward as hard as you can. Hold for several seconds and release slowly. Repeat five times.
In addition to finger and hand exercises, you can partake in activities that will help keep your fingers flexible and effective. For example, try making origami, learning to play a musical instrument, or playing with clay. These activities force you to stretch and exercise your hands and fingers. Many also provide some sort of resistance while engaging your hands and fingers, which also helps improve manual dexterity.