Why Is It Important to Strengthen Hand Grip?

Grip strength plays a big part in everyday life and has a direct correlation with your overall health. Keep reading to learn how to strengthen hand grip at home for improved dexterity and better performance in your workouts.


What is grip strength?


Grip strength is the force of your forearm and hand muscles when holding on to things with your hands. Because we use our hands in different ways, there are corresponding types of grip strength:


  • Crushing – when you have your fingers wrapped around an object and you are pressing it against your palm

  • Supporting – carrying or lifting a load using mainly your fingers

  • Pinching – grasping an object using the tips of your fingers and thumb

  • Extension – using the fingers and thumb in a stretched-out position


Why grip strength is important in everyday life


We use our hands for almost everything. If we think about the different types of grip strength in terms of everyday activities, we can see how just often we use hand grip:


  • Crushing – carrying shopping bags, driving, walking the dog, hoovering

  • Supporting – lifting boxes, moving furniture, climbing ladders

  • Pinching – opening jars, hooking and unhooking your bra, shaking out laundry

  • Extension – knitting and needlework, crafting, gardening


How is grip strength measured?


Grip strength can be measured using a hand grip dynamometer. If you attend a gym, they may have one you can use. Otherwise, you can buy an analogue hand grip dynamometer online for around £10, or a digital one for £30. Here are the average values for adult females:


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You don’t need to use a hand grip dynamometer to determine whether you should try to improve your grip strength. Look out for indicators in your everyday life like hand fatigue when working on your laptop, not being able to carry things for very long without needing a rest and pain or cramping in your fingers and hands. These are all signs that you would benefit from increasing your hand strength.


How grip strength can improve your workouts


Good grip is essential for your workouts as the stronger your hand grip, the more weight you can pull, lift and support. By working to strengthen hand grip, you will be able to:


  • tackle exercises like press-ups, pull-ups and chin-ups more easily

  • work out with heavier weights

  • do more reps

  • be more likely to avoid injuries related to wrist and forearm strain


In addition to improving your workouts, good grip strength has been shown to correlate with shoulder strength and good overall health.


4 exercises to improve your grip strength


You can easily strengthen hand grip at home by doing these simple exercises:


The ball squeeze


Improve your crushing grip by squeezing a tennis ball with your whole hand. Then target your pinch grip by squeezing the ball with your thumb tip and each fingertip in turn. Do 5 to 10 reps for each hand and for each finger.


The plate pinch


You don’t need weight plates to do plate pinches. Find two hardback books that are the same size and weight and hold one in each hand using your thumb and fingers. Stand with your arms at your sides and squeeze the books for a minute, rest a minute and repeat for three sets.


The chair lift


Grab a dining chair and lie down on your front so you can reach the chair legs with your arms outstretched. Keeping your elbows on the floor, grip the bottoms of the front two legs and lift the front of the chair a few inches off the ground. Aim for 10 to 15 reps.


The rubber band extension


Stretch a rubber band around your fingers and thumb, approximately at the bottoms of your nails. Spread out your fingers and thumb, relax and repeat for 10 to 15 reps with each hand. Add another rubber band for more resistance if one is too easy.


Equipment to help improve your grip strength


The above exercises mean you can strengthen hand grip without going to a gym or needing special equipment. However, equipment can be used to supplement your home-based training. Equipment found in your home or commercial gym that is great for grip strength training includes:


  • Lat pulldown machine

  • Cable crossover machine

  • Dumbbells

  • Kettlebells

  • Weight plates


Strengthening your hand grip is easy to do at home and benefits your overall health. Try some grip strength exercises and you’ll see improvements across your whole workout and in your everyday activities.


References


1 R. J. Wood, Hand Grip Strength Test (2008), Topendsports.com, retrieved 21 April 2021


2 I. Horsley et al., Do changes in hand grip strength correlate with shoulder rotator cuff function? (2016)


3 Dr D. P. Leong et al., Prognostic value of grip strength: findings from the Prospective Urban Rural


Epidemiology (PURE) study (2015)


By Ruth Hayward

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