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Episode 49: Helpful Hand Exercises

Video Highlights

- The hands are often imbalanced due to being over-flexed.
- Over-flexed hands can lead to neck and shoulder issues.
- Use your 'habit' memory jogger to do these effective exercises.

Hi, Z-Health community.

Welcome back to the blog.

This week we’re going to be talking about the hands; specifically working on the muscle that opens the hands.

Now, the reason that this is important is there’s actually some really interesting research out there about how much time we spend flexing our fingers.

Even if you work at a keyboard all day, the amount of exercise that the muscles get that close your hand vastly outweighs the amount of exercise that the muscles get to open your hand fully.

Now one of the things that come from this over time very often is wrist pain and hand pain. If you remember from previous blogs, (Part I and Part II) we gave you some exercises to work on carpal tunnel type issues and things like that. Well, another thing that I have noticed over the years is that very often people that have shoulder and neck issues very often that arises from their hands as well.

What I want to do is give you kind of a two for one special in this blog about how to work on the muscles very, very easily and in so doing maybe prevent issues with your hands, wrist, shoulders or neck. All right.

Really simple idea, if you think about how most people spend their days, we sit in our car, then we go to the office, and we sit on the chair and then we’re flexed forward. Everything kind of gets more and more and more in a caveman posture including our hands.

Very often what we were going to need to do is open up the body the other way. The way we’re going to do that in the hand specifically is we’re going to go back to one of the tools we talked about in a prior blog called a rubber band.

Really cool, right. In some of our habit blogs, earlier in the year, I talked about the idea that most of our really want to change our habits. The problem is we don’t remember we want to change our habits until maybe 8 or 9:00; right before bed.

We talked about having systems and reminders in place and one of the things I recommended was just getting some rubber bands and writing on them a catchphrase or a term something that would get your attention and go “oh, yeah”. Every 30 minutes up out of my desk.

We’re going to take that same rubber band that you’ve been wearing on your wrist and we’re now going to slide down and we’re going to put over your fingers. Because once you have a nice, strong rubber band, you have a great exercise tool to begin working on the muscles that open the hand and kind of reverse some of the effects of the stuff that we do all day. We’re going to take the rubber band, slip it around the fingers and just simply work on opening.

Now, you’ll have to adjust it and make sure it doesn’t slip off, the goal here is to do some relatively high repetition opening, maybe while you’re sitting there, thinking about the next thing you have to type or whatever you’re doing at work. Think in terms of building up to 20 or so repetitions or more depending on how fast you’re going. You can get a really heavy rubber band and only try and do maybe two or three repetitions but we’re trying to counteract the amount of movement and work that we do on a flexed posture all day every day. So think more along the high repetition route.

You do that on both sides. Once you’ve done that, you’re going to begin doing a little bit of individual finger strengthening as well. The way that we’re going to do this is we’re going to take the same band to make a small loop, put it over our index and middle finger and then we’re going to grip the lower aspect of the band and give ourselves a little bit of resistance.

Now we can begin working on spreading the fingers against resistance as well. In this particular set of exercises, we’re opening and we’re spreading both against resistance. You’re going to try to do 10 to 20 repetitions of spreading the fingers, start with the index and middle, then work to the middle and ring and then finally the ring finger and little finger. You will find these surprisingly weak. Most people have never exercised them and as a result, you’ll find a very small amount of resistance is often enough for you to go “wow, I’m getting a burn in my hand”.

Go carefully, take it easy but again think about building up repetitions throughout the day. This would be a great exercise to combine as I said with a habit idea, where maybe on your rubber band, you write work your hands or something to that effect to remind yourself to try and do this regularly throughout the day. I recommend at least two sessions a day, now that may make you sore in the beginning so stretch it out if you need to.

Really begin thinking about hey, how often can I just do some exercise or work to really work on extending and opening my hand and opening my fingers. When you do that, you’re going to give yourself a huge opportunity to avoid a lot of the common risk hand issues that arise. Plus you may also fix or at least alleviate some of the discomforts that many people experience in their shoulders and necks as a result of the issues that occur in the hand. There you go, that’s the exercise for this week.

If you have any questions or ideas around this, please let me know.  Be happy to help.

Have a fantastic week.

I look forward to talking to you soon.

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