Easy Help for Hurting Hands

Simple daily stretches and exercises to help build strength and flexibility

handsTo stay fit, we work on strengthening everything from our hearts to our calf muscles. Our hands often get no exercise attention at all—that is, until they start hurting.


Hands may ache from repetitive motion or overuse if you enjoy tennis or other racquet sports, have a computer-based job or play a musical instrument. Arthritis also causes hand pain. Even without those specific stressors, the numerous bones, muscles and ligaments in our hands and fingers literally carry the load of many daily activities and sometimes hurt as a result.

Hand stretches and exercises to build strength and flexibility are effective ways to keep your hands pain-free. The following hand helpers take just a few minutes; done daily, they can ease the ache.

Hand Helper #1: Simple Stretch

  • Open hand flat.
  • Make a fist, keeping thumb straight, outside fist.
  • Slide fingertips up palm until they come close to the base of your fingers (or as close as you can without feeling pain).
  • Hold stretch for a few seconds.

Hand Helper #2: Hand-Wrist Stretch

  • Open hand flat.
  • Make a fist, keeping thumb straight, outside fist.
  • Bend wrist downward toward palm.
  • Straighten fingers and stretch wrist in opposite direction.
  • Repeat for each hand, up to 10 times.

Hand Helper #3: Squeeze Play

  • Scrunch a piece of paper into a small ball in your hand.
  • Squeeze and repeat. (We told you these were easy!)
  • You can also do this exercise with a tennis ball or small, flexible rubber ball.

Hand Helper #4: Thumbs Up

  • Hold hand flat, palm up.
  • Bring thumb in to touch the base of the little finger.
  • Swing thumb away and back out to side.
  • Then touch thumb to each fingertip, one by one, forming an "O."
  • Repeat several times.
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