Whether you type all day, play the guitar or perform precise surgical operations, you need finger dexterity, flexibility and strength for many activities. Practicing a few simple exercises will keep your finger joints lubricated and increase the dexterity and strength of your fingers.
Factors That Affect Finger Dexterity
Anyone can experience tired and sore hands that decrease your flexibility and dexterity. It could simply be the result of repetitive actions such as texting, typing or playing a musical instrument. This may cause your muscles to become tight or the median nerve, which sends messages to and from your hand, to become compressed.
In more serious cases, you may also experience numbness, tingling or pain. According to Keck Medicine, these symptoms may be caused by a more serious medical condition or injury such as tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis. Parkinson's disease and hand-arm vibration syndrome may also decrease your finger dexterity and motor skills.
Performing stretches and exercises to increase the strength and mobility of your fingers, hand, wrist and forearm may help improve your finger dexterity. Practicing the activity you are trying to achieve will also improve your dexterity and abilities. For example, if you are a piano player, practicing your playing each day will improve your finger dexterity and coordination.
If you have a medical condition or injury that is affecting your finger dexterity, consult your physician before exercising as some exercises may make your condition worse. Additional treatment may also be recommended.
Mobility and stretching exercises increase your range of motion. Perform 10 repetitions of each exercise, advises Pacific University. Begin by holding up your hand with the fingers straight and together. Then, spread your fingers as wide as you can for 15 seconds before returning to the starting position.
For the next exercise, make a fist and hold it for five seconds. Then, as in the previous exercise, spread your fingers as wide as you can for 15 seconds before making a fist again.
Other exercises focus on the joints of the fingers and thumbs. For example, holding your hand flat with your thumb out, bring the thumb across the palm of your hand toward your pinkie finger. Then return to the starting position.
Another exercise focuses on the joints of your fingers. Starting again with a flat hand, slowly roll your fingers down until your fingertips touch the base of each finger. Then continue to roll down until your fingertips are touching your palm. Return to the starting position.
Wrist stretches will also help with your range of motion. Flex and extend your wrist until you feel a gentle stretch. Another exercise recommended by Harvard Health Publishing is wrist pronation and supination. Begin with your elbow bent at a 90 degrees angle and your hand out with your palm down. Then, without moving the elbow, rotate your hand so that your palm is facing up, then return to the starting position.
Applying heat for five to ten minutes to warm up your hands prior to exercise may help decrease pain and make movements easier, according to Keck Medicine. You can soak your hands in warm water, wrap them in a warm towel or use a heating pad.
Finger Dexterity Exercises
Using a squeeze ball can help to strengthen your grip and the muscles that move your fingers. Squeeze the ball tightly and hold for three to five seconds before relaxing. Build up to 10 to 12 repetitions for each hand per session. You can also do this exercise with a hand grip strengthener.
Finger isolation exercises will help with motor control and increase dexterity. For example, try finger taps. Start by holding your hand flat. Beginning with the index finger, bring it down to tap your thumb. Repeat this with your middle, ring and pinkie fingers.
Another finger isolation exercise is to lay your hand flat on the table. One at a time, lift each finger off the table. You can also practice moving each finger from side to side, advises the University of Florida Health.
Finally, practice dynamic movements in your day-to-day life. This may include playing piano or guitar, sewing, making jewelry and picking small items up off the table or floor.
- Keck Medicine of University of Southern California: "5 Hand Exercises to Help You Maintain Your Dexterity and Flexibility"
- U.S. General Services Administration: "Fact Sheet: Occupational Exposure to Hand-Arm Vibration (HAV)"
- Frontiers in Psychology: "Complex Hand Dexterity: A Review of Biomechanical Methods for Measuring Musical Performance"
- University of Florida Health: "Fine Motor Coordination Activities for Patients With Parkinson’s"
- Pacific University: "Home Hand Exercise Program"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "5 Exercises to Improve Hand Mobility"