Benefits of Grip Strength
Think of almost any sport – golf, baseball, football, tennis, biking, rock climbing, or weight-lifting. Now imagine trying to play these with a weak grip. Grasping, holding, swinging, throwing, lifting, or pinching are only as reliable as the athlete’s grip strength. Oftentimes the hands and forearms are overlooked when designing fitness or training routines, but a strong grip can make a tremendous difference in athletic performance.
Perhaps you are not an athlete but you’re considering your own hand strength. Everyday activities such as lifting grocery bags, opening a jar, or turning a wrench require grip strength. For anyone who has experienced an accident, stroke, or arthritis, grip strength is no longer taken for granted in activities as mundane as tying a shoe, driving, or holding a fork. You may think that either you’re born with strong hands or you aren’t, but it is absolutely possible to improve your grip strength.
What is Grip Strength?
Grip strength is exactly what you’d expect – the hand’s ability to maintain a grasp. There are three positions to consider when speaking of grip:
1. Crushing (squeezing a hand gripper or shaking a hand)
2. Supporting (lifting a bucket by the handle)
3. Pinching (holding a phone book with your thumb on one side and the four fingers on the other)
The upper arms, biceps, palms, and fingertips all play a role in strengthening the grip, along with the supporting tendons.
Grip Strength BenefitsThe following are some of the most noteworthy grip strength benefits:
Overall Use of a Good Grip
As mentioned before, grip strength is heavily related to athletic performance as well as everyday activities. In weight-lifting and cross-fit, the grip is necessary for deadlifts, pull-ups, rope climbing, curls, rows, and more. When the body is on its last few reps, a strong grip can pull you through; where oppositely, when the grip gives out, the activity is over. A swimmer can keep going if they don’t have grip strength, but someone participating in rock-climbing most certainly cannot. Improving cardio and lifting your heaviest weights won’t do much good if your grip strength can’t keep you in the game.
Everyday activities such as holding a hair brush, walking the dog, using a cell phone, writing with a pen, washing dishes, or opening a door uses grip strength. If it’s compromised, these seemingly simple activities can be a point of trouble and discouragement. With adequate grip strength, life can carry on in a fulfilling and natural way.
Enhanced Recovery from Injuries
As with most parts of the body, the more it is used, the more resistant it is to sustained injury. Flexibility and strength through regular use keep the hands, wrists and forearms from becoming stiff or weak.
Growing the power of the hands and upper arms can improve the grasping ability, which in effect can contribute to improved agility and resistance to injury. Grip strength activities for adults enhance muscles and soft tissues which improve durability of the bones in the wrist and forearm joints.
Prediction of Disease
There is some evidence linking grip strength with longevity and health. Among the elderly, grip strength can be a better indicator of mortality than blood pressure and blood glucose levels. A weaker grip can also be a warning sign for type 2 diabetes and depression in adults.
Grip Strength Activities for Adults
Is improving your grip and hand strength something you’re interested in? Let’s get started with some grip strength activities for adults (or kids for that matter!). Most of these can be done anywhere without equipment. Some activities are best done with a simple tool such as a band or gripper. Hand strength comes gradually, so it is important to do multiple repetitions of these exercises throughout the day, every day. Once you find the exercises that work best for you, implement them while watching TV or before going to bed, making them a part of your daily routine.
Because grip strength varies from person to person, not all of these suggestions are going to fit your needs. Someone suffering from arthritis won’t be doing the same grip strength building activities as a weightlifter hoping to deadlift a new PR. Choose according to your needs.
Fingertip Push-Ups (Advanced)
This one originates from the world of fighting arts and action sports. Rather than putting your hands flat on the floor for a push up, keep your palms off the floor and use only your fingers for support. Perform as many push-ups as you can before your hands get exhausted, then move to your knees until your hands are exhausted. Stop for a minute, and replicate for a maximum of reps.
Rubber-Band Workout (Easy)
This one is easy to do anywhere. (We’ve found it especially helpful during meetings at work.) Wrap a firm rubber band around the outside of your fingertips, then spread your fingers as widely as possible, then relax the hand. Perform as many attempts as you may until fatigue, stop for one minute, and perform again.
The Reverse Curl (Any Level)
Using a flat or easy-curl bar with palms facing down, hold the elbows tight to your sides and raise the weight. For better impact, lift the bar at a regular pace but take 3-4 seconds to lower. Rest for one minute, then repeat for three sets of ten reps.