Get a Grip

Fitness, News and Advice
on October 7, 2008

First, what you shouldn't do: squeeze a tennis ball or use other grip-strengthening devices. That can actually make you weaker, says physical therapist Carla Cleary of the St. Dominic Outpatient Rehabilitation and Hand Management Center in Jackson, Miss. The strength of your muscles — including the nearly 40 in each hand and wrist — starts to go south about age 35. But you can come to grips with the problem by doing activities that require you to hold on tight, like playing tennis or golf, rowing or gardening. In the gym, rowing machines, weight lifting and elliptical trainers and stationary bikes with handles you push and pull should help, too. Whatever you do, don't give in to wimpy-hand syndrome by using jar-opening gadgets or kitchen shears (unless, that is, you're in pain). "Even trying to open lids can be a form of grip exercise," Cleary says.