9 Exercises to Help Hand Arthritis

Increase hand strength, improve finger and thumb mobility and keep arthritis symptoms at bay with this hand workout. 

1. Hand Exercises for Arthritis
Gently exercising your fingers and thumbs with a hand workout can improve their range of motion and decrease arthritis symptoms. It’s one of the best ways to maintain function and independence. In a study published in 2015 in The Lancet, people with rheumatoid arthritis were taught how to do daily hand exercises as part of their treatment plan. After a year, they showed twice the improvement in hand function as those who didn’t do the exercises. They also had better grip and more flexibility in their fingers. But the exercises must be done regularly; in a follow-up study a year later, researchers found the benefits went away in people who stopped doing them.
Do the following exercises once a day or every other day to help improve your hand strength and mobility.
2. Grip Strengthener
Squeeze a hand-exercise ball as hard as you can and hold for 5 seconds, then release. Caution: If you are experiencing an acute or active flare in your hands, avoid squeezing movements like this one.
3. Gentle Fist
Hold your hand out with fingers straight, palm down. Slowly bend your hand into a loose fist (don’t squeeze), with your thumb on the outside. Re-open your hand, stretching your fingers straight. Repeat 10 times; switch hands.
4. Finger Rolls
Bend the joints at the middle and ends (PIP and DIP joints) of the fingers. Bend the joints at the base of the fingers (MCP joints) to make a fist. Hold for 5 seconds. Extend the finger joints in reverse order, straightening the MCP then the PIP and DIP joints. Repeat 5 times; switch hands.
5. Finger Bends
Hold your hand sideways with fingers straight and thumb pointing upward. Bend your thumb toward the palm. Hold two seconds, then straighten. Repeat with each finger individually 5 times; switch hands.
6. O Shape
Hold your hand with fingers straight, palm down. Curve your fingers inward until your thumb and fingers touch, forming an “O” shape. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times; switch hands.
7. The OK
Keeping thumb joints slightly bent, open your hand as if trying to grab a bottle. Bend the thumb and finger joints to touch the index finger and thumb tips together. Open hand again and repeat with each finger individually 5 times; switch hands.
8. Finger Lift
Place your hand flat on a table, palm down and fingers straight. Slowly lift your thumb off the table, hold for 2 seconds, then lower it. Repeat with each finger individually 5 times; switch hands.
9. L Shape
Place your hand on a table, pinky side down. Keeping your thumb pointing up, bend the other four fingers inward until they make an upside-down “L” shape. Hold for 2 seconds. Straighten your fingers back to the start position. Repeat 10 times; switch hands.
10. Finger Stretch
Lay hand palm down on a flat surface with fingers together, stabilizing the wrist with the other hand. Spread all fingers, including the thumb, for 5 seconds. Close fingers together again. Repeat 5 times; switch hands.