A stroke can be a challenging ordeal to go through, with lingering effects that turn everyday activities into huge obstacles. Luckily, we’ve searched far and wide for a collection of the best hand exercises for stroke patients. Everything from equipment-intensive hand workouts to simple stretches you can complete in minutes--try the ones that work best for you!
Therapy putty may look like a toy, but its effect on regaining hand strength is not to be underestimated! Therapy putty is designed specifically to help people who have problems in the hand, such as diminished strength.
Therapy putties can be bought in sets of various resistances. This is useful in two ways--it allows you to find a resistance level that suits your current strength, and it gives a clear path of progress where you build up your strength to the highest level.
Therapy Putty Exercises
1. Finger Scissors
To perform finger scissors, first put the putty between two adjacent fingers, just above the webbing. Then, squeeze the putty using only those two fingers. Try not to use much assistance from your other hand while doing this. Do this between all the fingers on your hand.
2. Finger Pinching
Finger pinching involves taking a small bit of putty, and simply squeezing it between your finger and thumb. Try to do multiple pinches with each finger to get a proper workout for each.
3. Hook Fist
To do a hook fist, put one hand out, palm upward, with the fingers together and the thumb outward. Place the putty in the middle of your palm, then close the fingers around the putty as if you’re doing a sideways thumbs-up.
4. Full Grip
The full grip is very much akin to the hook fist, but this time your thumb is getting some use. Clench the hand as you would with the hook fist along with your thumb. Try not to put your thumb under or over your fingers, just bend it slightly so it only touches the putty.
5. Finger Extension
Finger extensions are a fun way to interact with therapy putty! First, make your putty into a long strip. Then, bend one of your fingers down so it touches your palm. Using your other hand, ‘pin down’ the bent finger using the strip of putty. Raise your bent finger up and against the strip of putty until it’s straight. Then, continue this with the other fingers.
6. Finger Spread
The finger spread can be done with the putty shaped like a pancake or a ring. Put all your fingers together and place the pancake or ring around them. Then, spread your fingers outward, resisting the putty as you do so.
7. Thumb Press
Make the putty into a thick disk shape, the same diameter as the palm of your hand. Place the putty into your hand, then press your thumb into the putty while keeping the other fingers stretched outward.
8. Three Finger Pinch & Pull
This one is a lot of fun if you enjoy the feeling of stretching the putty! Mold the putty into a thick cylinder, then hold half of it in one hand in the same way you’d hold an ice cream cone. With the other hand, use your thumb and two other fingers to pinch around the cylinder, then tug the putty outward.
9. Meatballs and Pancakes
This curiously-named exercise is a fun way to give your hands something to do while you’re idle. To perform this exercise, flatten the putty between the palms of your hands (making the ‘pancake’). Then, in one hand, roll the pancake back into a ball (the ‘meatball’) and flatten once again.
10. Penny Hunt
If you have someone to help you, this can be a very fun game to play. Take some pennies and bury them within the putty, then dig them back out again. The act of pinching the putty to find the pennies, along with the digging-out motions, makes for a fun and effective hand exercise!
What are Therapy Balls?
Try this collection of hand therapy balls and choose the resistance level suited to your strength. ( See Product on Amazon )
Therapy balls are like the therapy putty’s cousin. These work in a similar way, with the main intent being to help redevelop the strength in your hands. Unlike putty, therapy balls can’t be stretched or molded.
What better way to use a therapy ball than to squeeze it? Simply take it within your hand and give it a firm squeeze. Alternate between squeezing and gently releasing it to give your fingers a good exercise.
If you have a table handy, try rolling the ball. This is done by pressing down on the ball with your palm, fingers stretched outward and together. Roll the ball up to your fingers, then back down to your palm.
If you have a particularly squeezy therapy ball, you can try pinching it. Simply place the ball between your thumb and a finger and give it a good pinch. Make sure to train all your fingers!
14. Finger Squeezes
If you can fit the therapy ball between two fingers, give this exercise a shot. Place the ball between two of your fingers and squeeze the ball between them.
15. Hand Presses
Place the ball on a firm surface, and center the space between your thumb and index finger on it. Press slowly by leaning your weight on the ball and hold for ten seconds.
16. Thumb Opposition
Performing the thumb opposition routine is very easy. Place the ball into the palm of your hand, fingers outstretched. Then, place your thumb on top of the ball and press firmly.
17. Two-Handed Press
Place the ball on a firm surface, under the butt of your palm. Press slowly with both hands, to massage the muscles in this region.
18. Fingertip Squeeze
Squeeze the ball again, but this time focus the pressure on the ends of your fingers, providing a nuanced workout.
19. Finger Press
Place the ball on a firm surface, beneath your fingers. Lean your weight on the fingers slowly, supporting them with your other hand.
20. Walking the Ball
To walk the ball, place the ball onto a table. Then, place your index and middle finger on the top, and press inward using the tips of your fingers.
There are some ways you can get some hand exercise done without needing to learn different kinds of routines. These simple tools don't require you to memorize any routines, but they’re just as effective at regaining strength in your hand.
Finger strengtheners are a very interesting way to exercise your digits. They come as small, hand-sized instruments with a pad for each finger. Each pad is loaded with springs that resist against pressure as you push, which makes for a great workout. Good models of finger strengtheners will allow you to tweak the resistance levels to your liking.
22. Hand Stretch Exerciser
Hand stretchers are ideal for physical therapy, or just anyone who wants to improve their grip. ( See Product on Amazon )
These interesting-looking exercisers are an efficient way to train stretching your fingers. You place the finger into each hole and then stretch them outward. The rubber material resists against your movements and helps re-develop muscle strength in your hands. Be sure to get one that suits your strength levels.
These are very simple devices that are small enough to be carried in a bag, and easy enough to perform no matter where you are. Take hold of the handle and give it a squeeze, pushing against the springs within the device. Well-made grip strengtheners will have a resistance toggle for extra customizability.
24. Ring Exerciser
See how even the most simple designs can get noticeable results in grip strength. ( See Product on Amazon )
If you want to exercise both gripping and stretching, ring exercisers are just what you’re looking for! You can put your fingers through the middle and stretch outward, or grasp the ring’s diameter and squeeze it inward.
These interesting gadgets may look simple, but they’re anything but. The ball has a gyroscope in the center which gives it momentum when twisted around in your hand. You can work with it for an easy workout, or fight against it to develop hand strength.
26. Rubber Band Exercisers
For the ultimate in customizable hand exercises, you can’t get much better than a rubber band exerciser. The actual exercise consists of pulling down a bracket using your fingers, but the bands themselves are what makes them special. An exerciser kit comes with an array of different rubber bands with various resistances, so you can add or take away a combination of bands to suit your strength level.
27. Digi-Squeeze Hand Exerciser
If you find therapy balls a little too tough for your liking, this hand exerciser is a great alternative. The finger grooves around the ball means that this doesn’t quite have the same versatility as a therapy ball--it’s designed only to be squeezed. Its foam makeup however, makes it ideal for people who really struggle with applying pressure. Optional rubber bands can be placed around the ball to toughen its resistance level.
See how this hand therapy device can restore your muscle strength while providing hours of fun. ( See Product on Amazon )
If other conventional exercise methods bore you, why not make it a game? The MusicGlove is a lot of fun for any technology enthusiasts. Wire up the glove to your computer and you can play a game where you move fingers to the beat of the music.
The exercise web is somewhat like an advanced finger strengthener. The large amount of holes in the webbing means it can fit any hand size. The dual colors aren’t just for show--each one corresponds to a specific resistance level so you can experiment and find the one you like most.
30. Resistance Bar
Resistance bars help the serious fitness enthusiast expand their repertoire of grip exercises. ( See Product on Amazon )
For a finger and arm workout, try a resistance bar. These are very simple to use, simply grab hold and start bending and twisting it to give your arms a solid workout. You can buy resistance bands in different ‘weights’ so you’re not stuck with something you can’t bend!
When you’re on the go and without your equipment, you can still squeeze in some exercise here and there. There’s plenty of little actions you can perform without any equipment whatsoever which still give your hand a solid workout.
31. Wrist Side Movement
To perform this simple exercise, place your hand flat against the table, palm down. Then, flip it up onto its back, and then back over on its palm, in a flip-flop motion.
32. Wrist Bend Movement
Place the hand you want to exercise in front of you, then place the fingers of your other hand behind the fingers of the first one. Slowly push the foremost hand toward you, making sure you don’t push it too hard or too far. Then, swap your pushing hand so that it’s against the front of your exercising hand, and push it back down again.
33. Hand Slide Movement
This routine is very easy to do. Place the hand you want to exercise flat on the table, palm down. Relax your fingers, then gently drag your hand across the table. You can either push your arm with your other hand, or move the arm by itself. As you do this, you’ll feel your hand wanting to curl its fingers. If this occurs, stop moving the hand, relax the fingers again, and continue.
34. Finger Nerve Glide
The finger nerve glide has a similar movement to the wrist bend movement, but works the fingers instead. Place the hand you want to exercise flat on the table with the palm upward, then slightly bend the fingers at all three joints on them. Using your other hand to push, slowly curl them inwards in steps, doing the top finger joints first, then the middle, then the bottom one. Reverse the process for a full rep.
35. Clenched Fist Bend
Place your hand on the table on its side, thumb upward. Clench your hand, then move your fist back and forth in a ‘nodding’ motion.
36. Side-to-Side Bend
For the side-to-side bend, put your hand palm down onto a table. Then move your hand slowly from left to right, as if you were gently waving at someone. Try not to let your wrist move too much as you go from side-to-side.
37. Hand Clench
To perform this exercise, place your hand on a table sideways, thumb upward. Grip your fist together as if you were squeezing something, then bring the hand back to a straight position for a full rep.
38. Finger and Thumb Touch
Spread out your hand so that your fingers and thumb are all straight and separated. Then, bring your index finger and thumb together while keeping the other fingers straight, as if you’re making an ‘OK’ hand gesture. Reset to a straight hand, then do the same action with your other fingers in sequence.
39. Pushing Hands
To start, clasp your hands together. If your sitting by a table, you can prop your elbows up on it for extra stability. Then, keeping your hands clasped, push one hand against the other so that both wrists bend in one direction. Repeat for the other direction.
40. Wrist Place and Hold
Place the exercising hand out on front of you on its side, thumb upward. Using your other hand, push your exercising hand as back as it can comfortably go. Hold it here for a little bit and become familiar with the sensation of the strain in your hand. Then, let go of your exercising hand and try to maintain the position and sensation without additional aid.
Around the Home
There’s a good chance you’re already doing hand exercises to regain strength, you just don’t realize it! There’s many small tasks and games you can do around the home that use the hands in particular ways.
41. Playing Board Games
Even when you want to take a break from grip training, try playing games with small pieces to improve dexterity. ( See Product on Amazon )
Great for rainy days, as well as improving finger dexterity, jigsaw puzzles are a long-time favorite. ( See Product on Amazon )
46. Stacking Small Items
Try this unique stacking game for a new way to work your hands and concentration. ( See Product on Amazon )
47. Finger Paints
If your goal is to improve finger strength, why not skip the brush all together, with these finger paints. ( See Product on Amazon )
48. Playing Card Games
Whether you prefer go-fish or crazy eights, card games will keep your fingers in motion. ( See Product on Amazon )
49. Opening Jars
Even everyday tasks can help workout those hands and wrists, but if you're having trouble with stubborn jars, give this opener a try. ( See Product on Amazon )
Handling Post-Stroke Effects
Loss of strength is only one of the after-effects that strokes have on the human body. Due to how it affects the brain, there may be other areas in your life where you need additional assistance. Here’s a few ways you can make post-stroke life a little easier.
Depression and Anxiety Help
Due to a stroke’s effects on the mind, you may have noticed that you’re more down recently, or you feel more tense about things you weren’t nervous about beforehand. Depression is diagnosed for a sadness that lasts around two weeks, while anxiety will continue even after all the stress-inducing events are over.
You may also find it a lot harder to communicate as well as you one could. Perhaps you can’t assemble words as well as you could, or you find it much harder to move your limbs and write things down. If you’re really struggling, it’s worth looking into communication aids to help you as you recover.
If damage was done to the memory-serving areas of the brain, you may find that you’re more forgetful than usual. In order to help re-develop your memory, you need to see the world in a slightly different light than usual. This includes associating new things with something you already know, repeating things constantly, and writing notes.
Recovering Strength For The Rest Of the Body
The hands are just one area to focus on when recovering from a stroke. You may find that other parts of your body don’t quite work the way they used to. If you’re looking for something to help train the other areas, here are a few ideas.
Rehabilitation Corner Steps
Rehabilitation corner steps are just as they sound. This is a special piece of equipment that consists of steps that lead upward and back down in a corner shape. This means that stroke sufferers can help redevelop their movement strength without having to use the home stairs, where accidents might be more likely to happen.
If you want to get back into pedaling but can’t quite ride a bike just yet, why not try a pedal machine? These provide all the workout that a bicycle can offer, but remove any danger of falling off or crashing. In fact, you can do your exercise from the comfort of your own home as you watch television! Some machines come with a toggleable resistance level, which is perfect for building up your leg strength over time.
You may find that after your stroke, your balance is a little off-kilter. This is due to the effects a stroke can have on your body’s core. This sense of balance can be ‘re-learned’ by using exercise tools that put your balancing skills to the test. Balance boards are designed specifically for this purpose and makes for a very useful tool for rehabilitation.
Try Hand Exercises for Stroke Patients Today
Suffering the after-effects of a stroke can be demoralizing, but they don’t have to be permanent. With a few tools, you can help train your body to regain the abilities it once had. We hope this selection of hand exercises for stroke patients helps you on your quest to get back what you lost.
Jessica Hegg is the content manager and at ViveHealth.com. With vast product knowledge and understanding of individual needs, she aims to share valuable information on making smart buying choices, overcoming obstacles and overall improving the quality of life for others. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle.
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