Exercises for Hand Swelling

Your hands can swell for seemingly no reason when the mercury on the thermometer climbs or when you exercise. Swollen hands can also be a sign of lymphedema, a type of swelling that occurs after lymph nodes are removed from your upper body. Exercises for hand swelling can keep your bloated fingers nimble and may be reduce edema in some cases.

Hand Squeezes

One of the causes of hand swelling is fluid retention, a condition in which excess fluids pool in one area of your body, in this case the hands and fingers. Hand swelling associated with fluid retention can be caused by too much sodium in the diet, or a malfuntion of your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system consists of lymph nodes that remove toxins from your body as it circulates fluid. Breast cancer surgery in which lymph nodes have been removed can result in upper body lymphedema, or swelling in the arm and hands. Hand squeezing is a strengthening exercise that also helps push fluids out of your hand to be drained properly. Hand squeezes can be performed with a tennis ball, a rubber stress ball, a hand gripper or simply by pumping your fist. Squeeze as hard as you can for five seconds before releasing. Aim for 10 repetitions in each set.

Arm Circles

Arm circles may reduce exercise-induced hand and finger swelling though, according to the MayoClinic.com website, the evidence is circumstantial and not scientifically proven. Exercise-related hand swelling occurs when your blood vessels dilate and your hand swells in an effort to cool your body. Extend your arms so they are perpendicular to your body and make small circles, first forward, then backward.

Finger Exercises

Finger exercises gets your digits moving, which stops the pooling of excess fluids. Finger bends and walks are recommended as part of a light arm exercise routine for breast cancer survivors to control arm and hand lymphedema. Place your hands on a wall and bend your fingers, all working together, to walk your hands up the wall. The movement of your fingers along with the positioning of your hands over your head helps the fluids drain out of your hands. Finger bends and touching each fingertip to your palm in turn can keep swollen fingers from feeling stiff and achy.


Hand swelling that is caused by tendinitis, sprains or other direct injuries will most likely not be reduced by exercises. Icing and anti-inflammatory medications can relieve swelling and pain; strengthening and stretching exercises should be performed after the tenderness has receded.