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How To Improve Grip Strength and Mobility At The Office

Alright, you’re ready to jump into grip strength training!

I’ve outlined a number of stretches and exercises for you to do, no matter where you are and what equipment you have. Skim over and see what you can add to your daily mix or gym training!

1) STRETCHES AT YOUR DESK

You might be reading this while sitting at your computer right now.

We put a LOT of stress on our hands and wrists over the course of a day, so take the time to take care of these hard workers!

Below is a quick and dirty stretch routine, just three moves. This is good for a warm-up or just for overall hand health. We spend a lot of the day at our computer with our elbows bent and our hands in a pronated position (palms turned down), therefore stretches with our elbows extended and hands supinated (palms turned up) is a good idea.

Fingers back, palms on desk: You can stretch straight backwards, or rock gently left to right. 10-15 repetitions.
Finger back, palms lifted off desk: You can lift the palms and get a bit more stretch through the fingers and first knuckle. Again, stretch straight backwards, or rock gently left to right. 10-15 repetitions.
Fists together, back of hands on desk: Make two fists, with the thumbs on the outside of your fingers. Bend your elbows and put the knuckles together like two cogs in a machine. Bend your elbows and put the back of your hands fully on the desk. Keep your fists together (this will be tough) and fists tightly closed (this will also be tough) as you bend and flex your elbows. 10-15 repetitions.
Give it a shot, I bet your hands feel noticeably different (and better) afterward.

If you have additional time, the first two stretches can also be done with your fingers forward!

You can also stretch the thumbs out on the desk. Moving into and out of the stretch shown below. You may be surprised how good this feels if you’ve never done it before. Again, 10-15 repetitions.

Do thumb stretches to improve hand health
A final stretch, if you have the time between updating Excel and checking Facebook for the 100th time (I kid, I kid), is stretching your wrists in the direction of your thumb.

If you think about how your hands are often oriented on your keyboard, you’ll see that they are often bend toward your pinky.

Avoid keyboard wrists by practicing grip strength and wrist mobility!
So let’s stretch them in the opposite way! Make like you’re about to karate chop someone with one hand. With the other hand, grab the chopping hand and pull it sideways in the direction of your thumb.

Do the ulnar stretch to improve hand health
Going gently into and out of this stretch for 10-15 repetitions. It may not feel as intense as the previous stretches, but it will still help.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of hand and wrist stretches, but it should give you plenty to work with!

2) EXERCISES AT YOUR DESK

Do you know there’s already an excellent piece of grip strengthening equipment present in many offices? What is that?

The rubber band!

Snag one off that rubber band ball in your desk and do these simple rubber band extensions:

Do rubber band extensions for hand health
If one band gets too easy, put two or more on! This is a super easy exercise to do while you’re on a phone call or that conference call (that you’re not paying attention to anyway) that gets the blood moving through the hands and helps balance out your vice-grip like hands.

Another grip exercise that can easily be done at your desk is closing grippers. Now, this does require an investment (~$20/gripper), but you’ll find that these grippers last FOREVER (I still use NIYIKOW grippers that are over a decade and half old!)

They are built to last and strong.

Consider the following when making your gripper purchase:

If you are just starting out with your grip, I would look at the Guide and/or the Sport (60lb and 80lb respectively).

If you can close the Guide, you’ve got a pretty solid grip. If you can close the Sport, you have way above average grip strength, in my experience.

A fun bonus with these grippers at your desk is that EVERYONE who sees them will try and pick them up and close them. Great way to start a conversation with your coworkers!

You may also be thinking, “eh, I’ve got a tennis ball/stress ball that I can keep by my desk and crush”. Both of those might be better than nothing, but not by much. The grippers will allow a smoother movement and quantifiable progress. Did I mention they’re just $20 a pop?

“Jim, I can’t wait. I want to work my grip NOW.” Ok, ok, grab the biggest, heaviest book in the office you have. Grab it in that pinch grip position (fingers on one side, thumb on the other). This may be easy, if so, then “walk the book” in your hand by moving your fingers up and down the spine while you hold it in mid-air. Do this for several trips. Tough!

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