Healthline Blogs

Forearm, Upper Body and Hand Exercise

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During the part of the year that we live in the United States, we have a luxury - a washing machine. You put clothes in it, and it washes them for you. You come back later, hang out the clothes, and the Earth dries them for you. Luxury.

Recently the old washing machine could not wash any more. I always appreciated the machine, but I rediscovered something else. Washing clothes by rubbing them on a washboard, and wringing water from heavy canvas work jeans and martial arts uniforms is vigorous hand and arm exercise.

Occasionally, sources for arthritis information state that if you have arthritis of the hands or wrists, avoid wringing clothes and instead, purchase a tool that squeezes the cloth to remove the water for you. However, it is not use of the hands or a wringing action in itself that causes arthritis pain. Use of the hands improves function, improves joint health, improves the strength that allows you to accomplish more without strain, and is an important part of arthritis prevention and management.

Good use and exercise of the hands does not mean to move the area no matter how much it hurts. Misuse - bad movement habits - is often the culprit in wear and pressure on the area. Instead of craning the wrist and fingers back and levering the wringing action on the finger joints, wrist and base of the thumb, use the muscles of the hand and forearm, as well as the entire arms to power the wringing action. Start with fun gentle squeezing, let the hands warm through real life use, and continue to improve function through use.

There is no need to keep straight wrists or splint them to keep them straight. Splinting may temporarily reduce pain, but reduces strength and function which often leads to bigger problems. It is not a healthful or useful solution to, "limit the patient to limit the pain." Use your body, have fun, be active, and be able to move for normal daily function. Use healthful body mechanics and the actions will be far more likely to build you than injure.

More posts on strengthening the hands are on the way.

More on distributing weight on muscules of the arm and hand instead of compressing the joints:


Click the labels under each Fitness Fixer article for more on each topic.

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About the Author


M.Ed, PhD, FAWM

Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.

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