health

Wrap A Rubber Band Around Your Fingers To Keep Pain And Stiffness Away

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

It’s a pretty obvious statement to make, but you need your hands. They do, well, pretty much everything for us, from big jobs to small.

Now, you don’t have to have hands to do some amazing things, including playing the piano beautifully, but if you have them, it’s really in your best interest to keep them healthy, flexible, and strong.

And the best way to do that? Exercise!

Exercising your hands is really easy, and even if you suffer from arthritis or stiffness, you can do these right at home. In fact, by doing them regularly, you may find that your stiff joints will loosen up a bit.

Your hands are pretty intricate, with lots of small bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. And all of those tiny moving parts means there are a lot of ways in which our hands can get out of shape, especially as we age or after years of doing repetitive tasks, like typing.

Luckily, though, you don’t need to go to the gym or get any special equipment to work your hands out, nor do you need to set aside a lot of time for it. You can do this while watching TV, talking on the phone, or standing in line at the grocery store.

Learn the moves below, and try them out yourself. If you find anything causes pain or discomfort, don’t push yourself, and if you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before trying them.

Why Should You Keep Your Hands Moving?

Why Should You Keep Your Hands Moving?
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Your hands are one of the most important parts of your body, because they enable you to do literally everything.

As we get older, though, our hands can start to ache and get stiff, making simple tasks difficult or even painful.

To keep your hands strong and flexible, keep them moving. Exercise strengthens the tendons and ligaments, which expands range of motion.

It also encourages the production of synovial fluid, which eases joint motion.

And here are some ways to keep your hands moving!

1. Make A Fist

1. Make A Fist
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

You know how to do this already — just curl your fingers inward and wrap your thumb over them.

The trick, though, is to do this slowly. Once the fist is formed, uncurl your fingers (slowly) until they’re straight again. Repeat 10 times on each hand.

2. Bend Your Fingers

2. Bend Your Fingers
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Start with your fingers all extended. Bend your fingers one by one, from index to pinky, towards your palm. Hold for a few seconds, then straighten again.

This will exercise the fingers individually.

3. Bend Your Thumbs

3. Bend Your Thumbs
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Don’t forget about your thumb! Fold your thumb in towards your palm, as though you’re trying to touch your pinky finger with it. Hold for a few seconds, and release.

Fun fact: This is also the sign for the letter “B” in American Sign Language (ASL).

4. Make An "O"

4. Make An "O"
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Touch your fingertips to the tip of your thumb to create a circle. Try to get it as round as possible. Hold for a few seconds and release.

If your fingers are prone to stiffness, do this particular exercise several times a day, or whenever your hands start to ache.

This is (you guessed it) the letter O in ASL.

5. Make A Right Angle Bend

5. Make A Right Angle Bend
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

This is easiest down, with the pinky side of your hand resting on a flat surface.

Slowly bend your fingers inward, but instead of curling them into a fist, try to keep the knuckle joints at right angles.

When complete, your fingertips should touch the heel of your palm near the base.

6. Stretch Everything Out

6. Stretch Everything Out
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Lay your hand palm-down on a flat surface and stretch your fingers as far and wide as you can (without hurting yourself, of course). Hold the stretch for a few seconds and relax.

This feels great if your hand’s been cramped or clenched for a while!

7. Lift Your Fingers

7. Lift Your Fingers
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

With your palm on a flat surface, lift each of your fingers and thumb slowly up from the bottom knuckle.

Try to lift them as high as you can, and hold for a second before slowly lowering.

8. Make A Claw

8. Make A Claw
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Curl up your fingers and try to touch your fingertips to the very top part of your palm. It should look like a little kitty claw.

Hold this pose for 30 seconds and release.

9. Don't Forget Your Wrists

9. Don't Forget Your Wrists
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Your wrists are just as important as your fingers, and they need some love, too.

Hold one arm straight out in front of you. With your other hand, gently pull down on the extended hand until you feel a stretch through your forearm.

Hold gently for a few seconds and release. Repeat on the other side.

This is a great stretch to do anytime your hands and forearms feel achey or overworked.

10. Grab A Rubber Band

10. Grab A Rubber Band
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

A rubber band is a great exercise tool for fingers. Stretch a rubber band around your fingers and thumbs, and open your fingers against it.

It will provide resistance and give your muscles a little workout.

Have you ever tried any of these? What’s your favorite way to soothe tired, achey hands?

Let us know in the comments, and SHARE these tips with anyone who works with their hands!