Whether you are trying to do pull-ups, carrying luggage or opening a stubborn jar, a strong grip is important in a variety of exercises as well as everyday activities. What you may not realize is that your grip may also be indicative of overall health. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that grip strength is a predictor of muscular endurance and overall bodily strength. Other studies have found that a stronger grip correlates with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Researchers say the findings definitely suggest a link between heart health and muscle strength.
Because general hand health is important, extension as well as flexion in the fingers, you may need to build the muscles on both the top side and palm side of your hands.
Exercising all parts of your hand will also help you avoid creating an imbalance between the muscles that help you open and close your hands. And, because overworking only the muscles used to closed your hands, could lead to tendonitis, try strengthening both sides of your mitts by shoving your hand into a bowl of warm uncooked rice or sand and extend and flex your fingers.
There are actually three types of grip strength, namely crush, pinch and support. Each one lends itself to the overall sturdiness of your grasp. The crush grip is the strength between your fingers and your palm, which helps you shake hands or crumple up a piece of paper. The pinch grip is the strength between your fingers and thumb, the one used to grab a piece of paper, for instance. The ability to hold onto something such as a bag handle for a long period of time, is called support grip.
How can you improve your grip? Here are a few simple moves:
Place a dumbbell in your hand and then let it roll down your hand and catch it with the tip of your fingers.
Gripper squeeze: Using a hand gripper/exerciser or a stress ball you may have at home, flex your fingers into your palm and out for twenty seconds.
Newspaper roll: After you’ve read the Sunday paper, place your hand on top of one sheet, pulling the paper in with your fingertips until you roll the paper into a ball.
Pinch moves: Press each fingertip to your thumbs and hold a few seconds, then open your fingers in a stretched position for a few seconds and proceed to the next finger and thumb, etc.
Susan Covey is the director of Health and Fitness at Acts Bayleigh Chase
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