A Helping Hand

Keep these exercises close—your hands will thank you.

Richard BlauWhen rheumatoid arthritis (RA) first strikes, it often shows up in the joints of the hands. In his book Too Young to Feel Old, rheumatologist Richard Blau offers these hand exercises, which may help maintain the range of motion in your fingers. (He doesn't recommend doing these during a flare-up.) Ask your doctor if they could help you, and when and how often they should be performed.


Walk Your Fingers

Walk Your FingersHelps with grasping objects or playing musical instruments

  • Rest your hand on a flat surface, palm down (figure 1).
  • Move one finger at a time toward your thumb, starting with your index finger (figure 2).
  • Lift and move your middle finger toward your thumb (figure 3).
  • Lift and move your ring finger toward your thumb (figure 4).
  • Finally, move your little finger toward the thumb.
  • Don't move your wrist or your thumb during this exercise. Repeat 3 times.
  • Repeat steps with the other hand.

Middle Knuckle Finger Flexion

Middle Knuckle Finger FlexionHelps with grasping objects, writing and maintaining your grip on eating utensils

  • Place back of hand on a table with the palm side up (figure 1).
  • Immobilize the lower knuckle with the forefinger of the opposite hand (figure 1).
  • Bend the finger from the middle joint to 90 degrees (figure 2).
  • Repeat steps ten times for each finger of both the right and left hand.

Top Knuckle Finger Flexion

Top Knuckle Finger FlexionHelps with grasping objects, writing and maintaining your grip on eating utensils

  • Place back of hand on a table with the palm side up (figure 1).
  • Immobilize the middle knuckle with both the forefinger and middle finger of the opposite hand (figure 1).
  • Bend the finger from the end joint to 90 degrees
    (figure 2).
  • Repeat steps ten times for each finger of both the right and left hand.

From the book Too Young to Feel Old by Richard H. Blau, MD, and E.A. Tremblay. Reprinted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2007.

Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen, and remember to only do the exercises to tolerance—do not do too much at once.

The exercises have been reviewed by Sherry Backus, PT, DPT, MA, clinical supervisor in the Department of Rehabilitation at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Published September 2011

Exercise
Foot Exercises for RA
At-Your-Desk Exercises
Morning Movement Routine

 
Helping Hands
Yoga Poses

 

 

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