There are a series of hand exercises that you can perform to stretch out the stiff muscles and joints. If you cannot move your hands very well, some of these exercises may not be for you. Stop immediately if you feel any abnormal or severe amounts of pain. You don’t want to make things worse by doing damage to your fingers; start slow and gradually increase the duration of the exercise. Some individuals with damage to their hands and knuckles may not be able to perform certain hand exercises. If you’re not sure these exercises are right for you, consult with your physician.
- “Make-a-Fist” Exercise: You do this exercise by holding your hand slightly above your heart. Then, gently make a fist with your hand and close it firmly. Do not squeeze; just hold it firmly and gently. Hold your hand in the “fist” position for 10 seconds, then slowly release your fingers. You can repeat this process as much as necessary, but remember to stop immediately if you feel major pain.
- “O” exercise: The idea here is to make an “O” shape with your fingers and your thumb. Make sure you hold it in place for a few seconds before releasing the fingers. When performing this exercise, these steps will help you fully stretch your fingers and allow the muscles in the hand to release.
- Finger Lifts are another great way to stretch out stiff hands and fingers. Place your hand flat on the table, palm side down. Start by lifting your pinky finger as high as you can without lifting your palm off of the table. Hold the pinky finger up for a few seconds, then slowly place it back on the table. Try to keep each finger in the air for a few seconds, but if you feel any major discomfort, stop the exercise immediately. Repeat this step for each finger and repeat as often as you like.
- Finger Bends are the simplest hand exercise for anyone. Simply hold your hand in front of your body and bend each finger toward the palm. Keep the finger there for a few seconds before stretching it back out.
- You can also perform finger bends using heat application: Place enough rice in a bowl big enough to cover your hand, and heat in the microwave until it is warm. Before placing your hand in the rice, make sure that it isn’t so hot that it burns your hand. Then, submerge your hand in the rice while opening and closing the fingers for several minutes. This helps increase blood flow and reduce swelling/pain. You can even save the rice in your refrigerator for later use.