While hand discomfort is a natural part of the aging process, there are five exercises to relieve hand joint pain. Generally speaking, pain serves as our body’s alarm system and the hand joints are no exception. Some of us may feel it’s better to alleviate joint aggravation by avoiding exercises altogether, but movement ultimately helps strengthen the muscles and joints to help prevent injuries. It’s possible to recover from mild joint pain with exercise unless it’s persistent (in that case, please consult with a physical therapist or an orthopedic physician before beginning any exercise program).
To help relieve hand joint pain you may need:
- Moist, warm towel
- Heating pad
- Tennis ball
- Set small, comfortable and reasonable goals. When it comes to joint pain, the concept of doing exercises can seem less than appealing, but heat may be used (for fifteen to twenty minutes before a workout), and hand relief can occur simply by bending the fingers so they reach the top of the palm when flexed. Extend the fingers back to a straight position. This can be done several times throughout the day, and ice may be placed on the hand (following exercising) for up to fifteen minutes per application. Ice shouldn’t be used prior to exercise, because it can cause muscular and joint tension.
- When there is no difficulty, nothing is gained. Mild discomfort during exercises is permissible, since muscles and bones acquire strength over time with repeated effort. Flexibility is an integral part of exercising, since it can make activities more bearable. To stretch the hand, start by closing the thumb and fingers into a fist position. Then, try spreading each of the digits apart as much as possible and repeat up to three times daily.
- Use support if necessary. Although hand exercises can be done anywhere, some of us prefer to have the support of a desk, table or pillow. With pain, resting the wrist offers some relief. Such an exercise may include bending the thumb and each of the remaining fingers together individually (thumb to index, middle, ring and pinky fingers) until they touch. Ten to twenty repetitions are recommended, but fewer are acceptable as long as there’s no pain.
- Pace yourself accordingly. It’s best not to rush, since proper healing occurs over time. Merely trying to exercise quickly to get it out of the way is both ineffective and may cause further injuries or joint pain. Some movements are to happen slowly. Such an example includes an exercise where the hand’s fingers are upright and close together with the thumb facing the normal outward position. Bend the thumb into the palm of the hand (makes the number four in sign language) and slowly return it to the original position. Ten to twenty repetitions are ideal, but the number can be adjusted.
- Use discretion when pursuing a new exercise. Unless you're competing with Venus Williams on the court, a tennis ball can be a useful tool for increasing hand strength while relieving pain. The ball can be squeezed firmly (without causing pain) with the thumb and fingers for five seconds. Release your grip, allowing the ball to return to original form and repeat this process up to ten times.