Your hands may look delicate and petite, but that doesn't mean they have to be weak and frail. Having strong hands, no matter their size, can make doing simple daily tasks, such as opening a jar of pickles or picking up a gallon of water, a lot easier. Strengthening your hands and fingers doesn't mean taking time out of your busy schedule to work out at the gym. With a small ball or a wad of putty, you can do many hand-strengthening exercises while sitting at home on the couch or while at your desk at work -- and you won't even break a sweat.
Warm up your hand muscles and limber up your fingers before doing any exercises. Start by making fists and then opening your hands and spreading your fingers as wide as you can. Next, touch your thumbs to the tip of each finger to make the letter "O." Now, hold your hands with your fingers together and point them toward the ceiling. Bend only the top two joints of your fingers and curl them toward your palm. Straighten your fingers back to the starting position and repeat. Do each exercise 10 times, rest a minute and repeat.
Exercise your hands with ball squeezes while you watch your favorite TV show. A good size ball for smaller hands is a racquetball. When a commercial comes on, grab the ball and repeatedly squeeze it for the length of the commercial. With the ball in the palm of your hand, squeeze it as hard as you can and hold the squeeze for five seconds. Relax your hand for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat 10 times. The next time a commercial comes on, repeat the exercise with your other hand. Alternate hands every commercial and do two to three sets with each hand.
Perform finger exercises with a hand exercise ball made of polymer. These balls usually come in two sizes -- use the smaller size. Hold the ball between your index finger and thumb and squeeze the ball as hard as you can. Hold the squeeze for two to five seconds and then relax. Repeat with the ball between your middle finger and thumb, your ring finger next and then finally your pinky. Spread your index and middle fingers apart and wedge the ball between them. Squeeze the ball with your fingers, hold for two to five seconds and then relax. Repeat with the ball wedged between your middle and ring finger and then your ring finger and pinky. Do two sets of 10 to 12 squeezes with each hand.
Roll a small amount of exercise putty into a ball. Hold the putty ball between your fingertips and thumb. Pinch and press your fingertips through the putty. Reshape the putty into a ball and repeat 10 times. Don't forget your other hand -- switch hands after one set. Do two or three sets with each hand. A variation is to pinch the putty between each individual finger and your thumb.
- You can get polymer exercise balls and exercise putty from many, well-stocked sporting goods stores and physical therapy suppliers.
- Polymer exercise balls are color-coded -- the color of the ball corresponds to its level of resistance. Use one appropriate for your strength level.
- Perform the exercises daily. However, if your hands feel stiff after a day of exercise, skip a day.
- If you experience any hand pain, stop doing the exercises and consult your doctor.