Hand Exercises for Seniors

Hand exercises for seniors can help strengthen the muscles in your hand, wrist and forearm. These exercises can help with pain reduction, increased range of motion, and improve your hand movements while performing your daily activities.

When your hands are weak, everyday tasks like opening jars, can become a hassle. Strong and flexible hands and fingers are important for maintaining a functional and comfortable ability to perform many daily tasks.

  1. Hand Squeezes
  2. Wrist Circles
  3. Hand Glides
  4. Finger opposition
  5. Atlas Exercise
  6. Prayer stretch and exercise
  7. Extensor exercise
  8. Finger squeeze
Watch my instructional video

The hand squeeze is a great way to loosen up the fingers quickly and increase the blood supply. Wrist circles are wonderful for improving motion in the wrist bones and increasing the action of joint fluid. Finger glides help improve the movement of your tendons as they go through the wrist. Opposition finger exercises will improve your fine motor control. The atlas position is a static strengthening move that will improve your flexor muscles in the forearm. Performing the prayer position will increase the strength and range of motion of your wrist. The extensor exercise helps your muscles that open your hand. Then finally squeezing your fingers together will help the small muscles in your hand.

Exercise 1

Hand Squeeze. Extend your arms out in front. Squeeze and open your hands trying to get full range of motion out and back. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Exercise 2

Wrist Circles. Circle your wrists in one direction for 15 seconds and then in the other direction for 15 seconds.

Exercise 3

Finger Glides. Hold your hands with your fingers pointing up and palm flat. First bend your fingers to your palm while keeping your knuckles straight. Then make a fist. Then bend at the knuckles while keeping your fingers straight in the form of a “table top”.

Exercise 4

Finger Opposition. Touch each fingertip to your thumb in sequence from the index to the pinky.

Exercise 5

Atlas Pull. Interlock your fingers from one hand to the other hand and begin pulling apart. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat.

Exercise 6

Prayer Stretch. Bring your hands into the prayer position. Push your fingers from side to side to stretch and resist the movement.

Exercise 7

Extension Exercise. Form a duck bill with both hands like 2 puppets talking to each other. Have one hand over the other hand as if to keep the bill closed. Try to open the bill with that hand while gently allowing the fingers to extend open. Repeat with the other hand.

Exercise 8

Finger Squeeze. Interlace your fingers from one hand to the other hand and begin squeezing together. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat.

If you experience any pain with these movements, then reduce the force and or the range of motion you are using. Warming your hands up before the exercise with water is a great way to improve your motion and flexibility prior to exercise.

Many seniors have arthritis especially in the hand and fingers. Range of motion exercises will help circulate the joint fluid in your hand which will help reduce the pain and increase your flexibility.

We often forget to perform coordination exercises with our fingers to maintain good control of the intrinsic hand musculature. The opposition exercise above is a great way to practice finger dexterity.

Fully functioning hands are a must as we age. Performing hand exercises for seniors is the best way to maintain your range of motion and strength in order to do your daily tasks like opening doors, getting dressed and cooking.

Let me know if you have any questions or would like to see other exercises or senior fitness content. You can leave your comments and suggestions on my About Page. Need personal help? Check out my new Academy. Exercise is really your magic pill to feel better and live longer. Remember to stay active, stay strong, and stay connected!

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Doug Schrift

Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug helps seniors become strong and stable even if they have never exercised before.