By Annie Crimmins
Accredited Exercise Physiologist with Exercise Sports Science Australia (ESSA)
About half a million years ago, humans evolved the grip we have today. With a large, fully opposable thumb and a more muscular, mobile hand, we became better equipped to handle tools like spears and rocks, which gave us an evolutionary advantage .
As such, it is not surprising that our grip strength is directly related to our level of physical function. In fact, grip strength is strongly and inversely related to all-cause mortality and death from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and certain cancers .
There are over 30 muscles in the forearm which are involved in producing and modifying grip to suit the specific needs of the task at hand. Like any muscle, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Having strong grip not only helps us to lift heavier weights at the gym, but helps us perform better in everyday upper limb activities including:
- Sports utilising the upper limb – golf, tennis, hockey, cricket, rugby, the list goes on…
- Everyday upper limb activities – such as carrying the shopping, children, doing the laundry, and opening jars.
- Fine motor skills – including writing, drawing, manipulating cutlery, chopsticks, or playing an instrument.
5 At-Home Simple Exercises to Improve Your Grip
- Tennis ball squeezes
Get your hands on a tennis or stress ball. Place the ball in your palm and squeeze the ball as hard as you can, holding for 5 seconds or until you start to fatigue. Perform 3 sets of 10 squeezes (with a couple of seconds rest in between). Repeat in the other hand.
- Towel wringing
Get a freshly washed wet towel (a dry towel or tea towel works too!). Place both hands along the length of the towel, around 10cm apart. Rotate your hands in opposite directions as hard as you can so water is squeezed out of the towel. Hold for 5 seconds or until you start to fatigue. Rinse and repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Bucket carry
This one is great to do outside! Fill a couple of buckets up with a water. The more water you add, the heavier the buckets (and the harder the exercise) will be. Hold the buckets by your sides in your hands for 30-60 seconds or until you notice fatigue. Repeat 10 times.
- Book pinch
Find a reasonably thick book (~5-10cm in width) or some magazines stacked on top of each other. Place the book or magazines between your thumb and fingers. Hold the book firmly for 30-60 seconds or until you notice fatigue. Repeat 10 times. To progress this exercise, use a thicker, heavier book.
- Book pinch and transfer
This is a progression of the exercise above but involves the transfer of the book or magazine between each of your hands. Continue transferring your grip for approximately 60 reps (for each hand). Repeat 10 times.
Not all of us can get to a gym to improve our grip strength, however it is essential for lots of everyday activities.
Get a grip! Abundant Natural Health’s Lee Priest Power Grip isn’t just for the gym-junkies and powerlifters, but for the everyday person looking to improve their grip in everyday activities. It is a liquid-based chalk, which doubles as an anti-bacterial hand sanitiser. Great for outdoor activities such as gardening, raking, using hand tools, and leisure activities where your hands are prone to sweating, such as rock climbing, golfing and tennis!
Disclaimer: Abundant Natural Health strongly recommends that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. You should be in good physical condition and be able to participate in the exercise. Abundant Natural Health is not a licensed medical care provider and represents that it has no expertise in diagnosing, examining, or treating medical conditions of any kind, or in determining the effect of any specific exercise on a medical condition.
You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Abundant Natural Health from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of the materials we produce.
- Young, R. W. (2003). Evolution of the human hand: the role of throwing and clubbing. Journal of Anatomy, 202(1), 165-174. [Google Scholar]
- Celis-Morales, C. A., Welsh, P., Lyall, D. M., Steell, L., Petermann, F., Anderson, J., ... & Gray, S. R. (2018). Associations of grip strength with cardiovascular, respiratory, and cancer outcomes and all cause mortality: prospective cohort study of half a million UK Biobank participants. Bmj, 361. [Google Scholar]