Welcome friend! In this article, you will learn about the best hand grip exercises for seniors and how to increase your gripping strength.
Grip strength is something most people only think about when they have to open a tight jar lid.
But as you age you might have noticed that actions that require grip strength that were once easy have become harder.
Just like your general strength levels and physical ability tends to decline with age your grip strength becomes weaker after a certain age.
This is especially true if you don’t do activities or exercises that challenge your grip strength.
In fact, grip strength tends to decline even faster than your overall strength levels with age if you are sedentary or become sick.
Grip strength is also a surprisingly good metric for your overall health. There is a lot of research that shows that grip strength correlates strongly with your overall health.
That doesn’t of course mean that training your grip strength will improve your health elsewhere, it just shows that it’s dependent on your overall wellbeing.
Grip strength is essential for an incredible amount of daily tasks. From cooking to writing and from carrying the groceries to opening the jars.
When you lose grip strength, your hand coordination and control diminishes so it’s very important for your independence to maintain good grip strength.
Fortunately, it’s not very hard to maintain and improve grip strength as you age if you are otherwise healthy.
Let’s start by looking at what affects grip strength.
Understanding Grip Strength
Your grip strength is essentially dependent on your ability to clench your fist. To understand this better we need to talk a bit about anatomy.
Even though gripping happens with your hand the strength doesn’t actually come from the muscles of the hand.
Your grip strength stems almost completely from the muscles of the forearm. The smaller muscles of the hand participate in gripping but they mainly provide control to your fingers.
The only significant muscles in your hand affecting the grip are the relatively large muscles at the base of the thumb. They assist in any kind of gripping that require the use of your thumb.
But the real powerhouses of the hand are located in your forearm. As you clench your fist, you can usually feel these muscles contracting in front of your elbow crease.
There are many of these muscles and they are also responsible for the movement of the wrist. For our purposes, there is no need to know all of these muscles but it helps to understand their location and function.
These muscles are very strong relative to their size and they respond well to strength training. This is important for understanding how to improve grip strength.
Grip strength is also very dependent on your neurological functioning. Reduced grip strength can predict changes in brain health.
For the same reason grip strength and your hands, in general, are prone to nerve injuries, impingements, and disorders. Any diseases that affect the central nervous system can affect your grip strength.
Benefits Of Hand Grip Exercises For Seniors
The benefits of improving your hand and grip strength are many.
The greatest benefit comes from your ability to maintain the dexterity and functionality of your hands.
This is something you probably won’t think about until it starts to diminish.
The truth is that your ability to function independently in the modern world is highly dependent on your ability to use your hands.
There are of course solutions for people with disabilities but if you can maintain and improve your hand function you should definitely strive to do so.
Anything from making your morning coffee to holding a telephone is dependent on your hand dexterity. Not to mention things like writing or using the computer.
Besides maintaining hand dexterity grip exercises can make actions that require significant grip strength easier and possible.
Opening bottles and jars, carrying full bags of groceries, fixing things, doing gardening, cleaning, playing with grandchildren, shoveling snow just to name a few from the top of my head.
Without good grip strength, many everyday actions become difficult, fatiguing, or even impossible.
Grip strength plays a critical role in the quality of your everyday living when you think about it a bit. So it’s easy to see the benefit of improving it.
Here’s a great video from ehowhealth on YouTube (YouTube embed, content not created or owned by ElderStrength) about grip training:
How To Train Grip Strength
Because grip strength is dependent on your general health, the first step in improving it is to take care of your health. Active lifestyle, enough exercise, good sleeping habits, and a healthy diet are always important.
Grip strength diminishes very gradually so if you have noticed a sudden loss of strength or coordination in your hands it’s very important to get a medical assessment.
In fact, it’s always a good idea to consult a medical professional before starting grip strength training.
But besides taking care of your general health you can also maintain and improve your hand strength with strength training exercises.
There are specific strength training exercises for your hands to improve grip strength. But just doing general strength training will generally improve your grip strength.
This is because many if not most strength training exercises require you to grip a weight, a machine, or some sort of support.
This will help maintain and over time improve your grip strength as the activation
This same effect happens with activities that require you to hold on to objects strongly.
Gardening, construction, home improvement, carrying groceries and shopping bags, etc. all help activate your grip strength.
There is a colloquial term farmer strength or grandpa strength. It usually refers to older men who have done manual labor like farming their whole life. They can have better grip strength than powerlifters because they’ve carried so much heavy stuff around their whole life.
Grip strength responds really well to this type of daily activation over the long term.
You might not have the possibility of carrying heavy stuff around daily. Or the interest for that matter, who really does?
Fortunately, there are simple exercises that you can do at home to improve grip strength.
The key takeaway here is that grip strength should be done often and consistently to see good results. Just like any strength training really. 5 minutes every day is better than an hour every two weeks.
Best Hand Grip Exercises For Seniors
The best handgrip exercise in my opinion is general strength training, which is something all seniors should do at least a couple of times a week.
You can use dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands to do strength training at home. At the gym, there are various machines and barbells you can use as well. You can learn more about this in the article Weightlifting For Seniors.
The best specific handgrip exercise you can do at home is using a special grip strength trainer.
Grip strength trainers come in several forms but the common thing with them is that they all involve clenching your hand against an external resistance.
For seniors, it’s important to choose one that is light enough so you can squeeze it fully for several repetitions. Using a too hard grip trainer can cause injury and is very frustrating.
I personally prefer an adjustable one like this Flyfe Grip Strength Trainer on Amazon (Affiliate link, I will earn a small commission if you buy. Helps to keep the site running.).
With an adjustable grip strength trainer, you can start with the lightest weight until you can perform around 20 to 30 consecutive repetitions.
Once you can do that, you increase the resistance slightly by turning the knob and aim for the same amount of repetitions in the next training session.
Remember to train both hands and use the trainer several times a week, even for one set, and you will see results very fast.
I hope you found this article about hand grip exercises for seniors useful. You can leave your comments or suggestions below and I’ll get back to you.
Grip strength is very important for every day actions and independence and seniors should strive to maintain and improve it.
Grip strength is also very useful when performing any kind of tasks that require a bit more
Aging tends to cause a loss of grip strength but fortunately strength training
General strength training and active lifestyle are very good for grip strength but specific grip strength exercises with grip trainer can be very effective as well.
Just remember that with grip training consistency and regularity is more important than intensity or volume. So focus on forming a routine you do several times a week.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!