Throughout the day, our hands are likely the most frequently used body part for carrying out daily tasks. Yet, when the topic of enhancing muscle strength arises, the hands receive minimal—if any—consideration. Nevertheless, grip strength (and, if you walk, leg strength) is the most functional power we possess and is essential to sustain, asserts Isabel Garcia, DPT, a physical therapist based in Florida.
“We use our hands and arms for almost everything—brushing our hair, tying it up, opening doors or jars. This is why it is crucial for our grip strength to be as robust as possible,” Dr. Garcia expresses. “We rarely regard our hands as muscles since we do not need to instruct them to bend or grip, but we rely on them for crucial fine-motor actions in our everyday lives.”
Dr. Garcia suggests that most of us comprehend the significance of grip strength only when it is impacted by something, such as an injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, or trigger finger, a condition characterized by inflamed tendons that make it challenging to bend or straighten your fingers. (As someone who endured trigger thumb and was unable to open a door, write, or pick up anything for a month, I can attest to this indeed being the case!)
Having a firm grip also diminishes the likelihood of injury, arthritis, and other painful disorders—not just in the hands and wrists, but also in the elbows, arms, and shoulders. “I see patient after patient who has a hand, wrist, or elbow injury but cannot move their shoulder,” Dr. Garcia articulates. “The biomechanical structure of the hands, wrists, elbows, arms, and shoulders is like a chain. If there is a breakdown, other muscles will compensate for what has been lost.”
Experiment with this uncomplicated tool to bolster your grip
Grip strength is something that everyone can work on, but becomes especially critical as we age and become more susceptible to muscle degeneration, Dr. Garcia states. She notes that one of the finest and most straightforward methods for enhancing grip strength is by using weighted gloves. Her preferred choice: Powerhandz Powerfit Fingerless Weighted Exercise Gloves ($44.99), featuring reinforced gel padding on the palm for safeguarding against calluses and blisters.
Powerhandz Powerfit Weighted Training Gloves — $45.00
Dr. Garcia suggests donning the gloves during weightlifting, cross training, walking, or other forms of exercise to introduce resistance and toughen the hand muscles. “One of the best approaches to boosting grip strength is by engaging in exercises that entail weight-bearing on the hands and wrists, such as the high plank,” she adds, highlighting that incorporating weighted gloves will elevate the results.
Another method for enhancing your grip is to wear the gloves while performing everyday activities. “Integrating weight training for the wrists and hands into your routine by adding resistance to tasks you were already carrying out without the gloves will be the most practical way to wear them while engaging in activities around the house,” advises Dr. Garcia.
For individuals susceptible to hand and wrist issues, Dr. Garcia recommends intensifying the training by wearing the gloves while practicing the three types of functional grips:
Pivot your wrist left or right, pinching your thumb and the top of your index finger, simulating the act of unlocking a padlock.
Pinch two fingers together in a small motion, mimicking the action of picking something up.
Hold your hands as though grasping a water bottle. You can also incorporate the “hook” variation by flexing your fingers as if pulling up your trousers.
Firsthand experience of wearing weighted gloves
I have been using the Powerfit gloves during weight training sessions, and they have heightened my awareness of my grip and its need for enhancement. I also wore a pair during a recent Pilates session and noticed the amplified resistance in my hands and wrists (the hundreds felt more like thousands.)
As someone who has suffered from trigger thumb and sporadic episodes of carpal tunnel syndrome, I am hopeful that being mindful of my grip strength will help me steer clear of these painful conditions in the future—and employing something as straightforward as wearing weighted gloves to achieve this earns a double thumbs-up in my opinion.