How to Get Stronger Hands & Fingers With a Tennis Ball
Whether you’re an athlete or someone with arthritis, you can benefit from exercises designed to improve grip strength. Hand and finger exercises strengthen the muscles you use to open food packages, tie your shoes and grip a racket or baseball bat. A number of basic hand exercises involve use of a tennis ball for added resistance. Before you begin, open and close your hands and fingers 10 times to warm up the muscles.
Grasp the ball in the palm of your right hand, spacing your fingers and thumb equally around the ball. Squeeze the ball as hard as you can, applying equal pressure with all your fingers. Hold the squeeze for up to 5 seconds, release and repeat 10 to 15 times before switching to the left hand.
Press and hold the fingers of your right hand together. Grasp the ball with your fingertips on top of the ball and the tip of your thumb under the ball, leaving space between your palm and the ball. Maintaining this grip, pinch the ball firmly for up to 5 seconds. Release and repeat 10 to 15 times, and then switch to your left hand.
Rest your right hand palm-up on the table and place the ball in your palm. Stretch your right thumb upward, using it to grip the ball. Keep your fingers relaxed and extended on the table as you squeeze the ball with your thumb only. Squeeze for up to 5 seconds, release, and then repeat 10 to 15 times before continuing with your left hand.
Grip the ball between your first finger and thumb, allowing the other fingers to relax. Squeeze the finger and thumb together and hold. Shift the ball slightly, gripping it between your second finger and thumb. Squeeze and hold, and then continue with the ring finger and finally the pinky. After working all the fingers, repeat the series, pinching the ball between the tip of the working finger and the tip of your thumb. Repeat both sets with the left hand.
Put the ball on the table, steadying it with your left hand. Working with your right hand, press the tips of your fingers and thumb together. Place your clustered fingertips on top of the ball and press into the ball, working against the ball’s resistance. Hold for up to 5 seconds, release, and then repeat 10 to 15 times before switching to the left.
Place the ball on the table. Extend the fingers and thumb of your right hand and press them together. Place the underside of your fingers on top of the ball. Aligning your hand with your forearm, press downward into the ball for up to 5 seconds. Release, and then repeat 10 to 15 times before working with the left hand.
If your tennis ball is too firm, make a small slit in the ball before exercising with it or use a lighter-resistance therapy ball until your hand strength improves.
Exercise both hands equally, even if you sense that one hand is stronger than the other.
Avoid tensing other areas of your body, such as your jaw, shoulder, or neck.
Follow your hand workout with a gentle finger stretch. Rest the palm of your right hand on the table. Place the ball under your first finger. Relax the hand, allowing the finger to stretch briefly. Repeat with the other fingers, and then continue with the left hand.
When you exercise your hand and fingers, expect mild to moderate tension, not pain. Avoid any exercise that causes pain.
If you're recovering from a hand-related injury, discuss the appropriateness of specific exercises with your physical therapist.
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