Grip Strength & Hand Exercise

Grip Strength & Hand Exercise

My name is Dr. Terry Zachary and we are going
to talk about how to properly train your hand muscles for maximum performance and also to
maximize injury prevention. I have dealt with athletes for about the last
fifteen (15) years with hand muscle training, how to maximize grip strength, how to maximize
the reduction of injury. And what I find is that most people have a complete misunderstanding
on how this works. Because traditionally, we look at hand muscle training by taking
a coiled… a spring-coiled device, squeezing it or a racket ball or a tennis ball. And
I can tell you — That is just a complete misunderstanding. So let me tell you a couple of things about
the basis of the hand muscles. The anatomy, once you understand the anatomy of hand muscles,
the rest will come quite easily. And it is quite easy: You have eighteen (18) muscles that act on
the hand: nine (9) of those muscles will close the hand and nine (9) of those muscles will
open the hand. If you just look at your right hand, I’m going
to take my opposite hand and just put on the tips of my fingers and my thumb. I’m going
to trace that all the way to the elbow. Okay? Just by viewing that, you can now trace the
path of the tendons of the muscles — of the nine (9) muscles that close your hand. Flip your hand over and you do the same thing
on the back side all the way to the elbow — you have traced the path of the nine (9)
muscles and tendons that are going to open the hand. Alright? Quite quite simple. Now when we know this, and we’ve been studying
now the behavior of hand muscles for about five (5) years through EMG (electromyography).
So we get to look to see how the electrical impulses of the muscles are firing during
different activities. We know that anytime you grip anything that
the muscles that open the hand are working just as hard as the muscles that close the
hand. And that might seem a little bit strange. But imagine if I’m gripping something and
my hand-opening muscles weren’t very strong — my hand will just go drop like that. Okay? So we know that — what I’m referring to is
mixed… is pairs figure skating. You have a man supporting a woman. The woman is up
there doing the tricks. Okay? But if the person that supports her is weak, those tricks are
hard to be there, right? Same thing that happens — that hand muscles, the closing muscles
are like the woman who do the trick. Now, we can see that something is happening there:
playing guitar, or golf, or whatever. But what we don’t really recognize is the
muscles that open the hand are the muscles that are supporting any action of the hand
muscles. Okay? Just like the man supports the woman in pairs figure skating. That is
just one idea, but it is a very very appropriate idea. So always remember that when you are strengthening
the hand muscles, you want to get maximum performance and especially maximum injury
prevention as well: strengthen the muscles that close the hand, strengthen the muscles
that open the hand. We will move over that in the second here. The second thing I wanted to talk about is
hand muscle balance. If I do take a coiled resistance device, or a ball, or if I take
a racket ball for example — and I just squeeze that. You are going to see them slowly — it’s
a poor exercise — and slowly building imbalance. Okay? The more I squeeze that, the more these
muscles become shortened and these muscles aren’t going through their full range of motion
and not become as strong as they can be, and they develop imbalance. Now what it is like in the, come out, look
like? Well, it could be finger problem, thumb problem — it could be hand problem; it could
be a carpal tunnel problem if you use skill a lot. And imbalance — it could be a forearm
problem; it could be an elbow problem. Okay? We have to strengthen the muscles that close
equally with the muscles that open. Once I do that and I have equalized tone on both
sides, I am going to have the best chance at maximum performance and again, injury prevention.
Okay? The third thing about paying attention to
strengthen the muscles that close and open is that I’m going to stimulate maximum blood
flow through all the tissues. Okay? Think again. If I’m going to take something — squeeze
a ball, or a coiled unit. Also when I have is a little bit blood flow on the areas that
I have used. But once I take my hand through its full natural range of motion, I’m going
to have maximum blood flow to all the tendons so I’m going to have less tendonitis — to
all the muscles. I’m also going to have maximum blood flow through the joint’s surfaces. And blood flow basically just means you’re
bringing all the nutrients to that area. So blood flow does: gets your oxygen and nutrients
to the area, keeps you healthy. Okay? So, if I’m only doing this small range of motion,
I’m not going to get maximum blood flow. I’ll take the hand through a full range of motion,
now I am — all the joints and surfaces getting healthy and all the tissues stay healthy and
it’s very difficult to injure yourself. Okay? So I’m going to show you what we use. We have
developed a product called Handmaster Plus. All you do is very… simply slip the loop
on the base of the thumb and you just flip the finger loops, mid-knuckle. Once you have
it put on — and all the instructions are in the package — you are just going to keep
your elbows supporting against your body, keep your wrist straight, squeeze against
the ball for a count of one, open and spread for a count of one, squeeze for a count of
one, open and spread for a count of one. Just continue to do that until you feel uncomfortable
fatigue, and you are all done. It should take about thirty (30) seconds. Okay? After you
start and do it, the volume might be on to go for a minute or so. Okay? But you can see
it very simple. When I squeeze, I strengthen the nine (9) muscles that close the hand.
When I open and spread, I strengthen those nine muscles that open the hand. Okay? It’s not a whole bunch of exercises anymore
before we used to use two or three products. Now, we squeeze, open, spread, squeeze-open-spread
— very convenient for the athlete, the musician, at the workplace, if you are a craft person
— very easy to do anywhere. Okay? We coupled all the exercises into one. Okay?
So to end, that is Handmaster Plus. The best place to look up information of how to get
a whole new product through one of our distributors, or one of our brand partners is
— that’s d-o-c-z-a-c .com. Very simple exercise. Once you understand the anatomy now, you will
understand how to maximize your performance and prevent those injuries.

76 thoughts on “Grip Strength & Hand Exercise

  1. Hi Sensfan613:
    Handmaster Plus 3-pack (soft, medium, firm) is designed specifically for rehabilitation of finger, thumb, hand, wrist, elbow injury cases, but, as for any injury, you must firts clear it for use with your health care professional. Once okayed, start with the soft Handmaster Plus product.
    Handmaster Plus combines 3-4 exercises into one and is very easy to do. Always follow directions.
    All the best,

  2. Hi drummer54as:
    Yes, drumming is another great example of repetitive gripping activity that will lead to muscle imbalance & overuse & eventually injury. Finger, thumb, wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis & elbow problems are common in drummers, especially as they age or play more (imbalance advances & blood flow reduces). I'm confident that you will enjoy Handmaster Plus for strength, stamina, speed, balance, warm up & cool down (drummer tested). Follow instructions.

  3. Dear Grayzie10:
    There is no reason to believe that hand exercise causes arthritis, unless the exercise is imbalanced.
    Our sEMG research shows that people are neglecting 9 hand opening muscles when they train hands using 'grip-only' trainers.
    It is my opinion that grip-only hand trainers lead to imbalance, unequal wear & limited blood supply to joints of the fingers, thumb & hand.
    Handmaster Plus tones & balances all hand muscles & maximizes blood flow & circulation.

  4. i just got one of the "standard" ones.. cause i drum and play guitar.. and i figured i make my wrist / forearms stronger.. so should i chuck that away then ? … O_O

  5. i play baseball and i want to know what exercises should i do to make my shoulder, arm and wrist stronger to throw the ball faster and straighter, would your product be good to use to help with that?

  6. Hi daddyofsmack:
    This is an excellent question & explains the need to train extensor muscles of grip. Flexor muscles (close the hand) & the extensor muscles (open the hand) are both contracting during grip. Your observation is correct. The difference is that flexors move actively, whereas extensors statically contract to support the action of the flexors. Extensors must be trained (^ROM's) to oppose shortening of the flexors (CTS); & to be kept healthy themselves (tennis elbow).

  7. Hey doczac
    is there any other products u recommend or any exersizes that will do the same and is it really that bad using grippers or is it not? pls reply

  8. Sort of…
    Your finger and wrist extensor muscles are stabilizers for any action of the finger flexors. The weaker the extensor (stabilizer) muscles are, the harder the flexor muscles have to work. Often people feel their finger flexor muscles are weak, when actually their finger extensor muscles are causing the weakness. Strengthen your finger extensor muscles properly and you will find the true strength of your finger flexor muscles.
    Make sense?

  9. Hi BECK26x:

    Be careful… once CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome) starts, there is an indication of improper mechanics of the hand, wrist and forearm, causing the carpal tunnel to be compromised. Gripping repetitively (as in weight lifting) is very likely to aggravate CTS. Consider seriously to take some time off, use Handmatser Plus to re-establish proper muscle balance of the hand, wrist, forearm. Then restart exercise. Contact a health care provider for examination & advice.

  10. Hi Derek:

    Yes, the original program (PSST) started in Surrey, BC. PSSTWorld is based on Theresa Campbell's work in Surrey.

    PSSTWorld is a seamless scalable program that allows any school district (and now university) to have this fully functional safety program up and running within a few weeks, without tying up staff or development time or resources.

    Let me know if you have further q's regarding PSSTWorld.


  11. the balance between muscles makes sense, but what about the wrist bones themselves, i've been practicing karate for a while and when i punch hard my wrist hurts, plus if i keep my wrist in a fixed position for long it 'cracks' when i move it down. Is that normal?

  12. AkemiCaffeine:
    Thanks for your Q. No, the toes and feet are anatomically quite a bit different as they serve a different function (balance and shock absorption).

  13. Of course but your wrists will become stronger the more you punch bags =) If you're new you should use protection, or it could damage your wrists.

  14. Summer: Your thinking is the common thinking and leads to repetitive grip problems. The finger extensor muscles have to be trained equally to maimize grip and prevent injury. I have seen the same injuries from the same cause for 15 years. Easily preventable, hand grips alone is the wrong approach. Chronic imbalance results.

  15. You can do any exercise without resistance, but appropriate resistance is what challenges the muscles to become strong. The other benefit of appropriate resistive exercise that is omitted is that it maximizes blood flow and lymph drainage.

  16. Notice that the Handmaster Plus mimics exactly the motion of naturally opening and closing the hand, and simply adds resistance. The exercise products that we have grown to believe are proper hand exercise products do not mimick the natural motion of the hand (i.e. spring loaded and coiled grip products train the hand in 2D short ROM's; Handmaster Plus trains the hand muscles in natural 3D full ROM's.

  17. andjelicnikola:
    We have worked with many college & pro teams, athletes & trainers. Handmaster Plus has been in the training room of many NFL & CFL teams for years. It is used by quarterbacks, backs & receivers, but is popular with linemen. The 3 exercises are for quarterbacks. The stronger & better balanced the fingers, hands and wrists are, the easier it is for the quarterback to relax & still have enough strengeth and control. Better strength & balance, better touch.
    Good luck,

  18. Hm…probably the experts on fingertip strength would be rock climbers. I would probably google "rock climber finger exercises" or something like that. You might try "arm wrestling finger exercises" as well, I know there is one arm wrestlers use where they hold the handle of a sledge hammer between the fingertips of both hands and then walk their fingers up the handle like a spider.

  19. RustyFucket
    Many grapplers currently use Handmaster Plus. We regularly test elite athlete & rarely are they addressing finger extensor muscles (9). Handmaster Plus immediately increases grip strength/stamina by addressing these finger stabilizers. Most fatigue by the medium within a minute until they train. Then they move to firm. Handmaster Plus does not negate any other grip trainer of choice, just adds finger extension which is vital for strength, performance & reduces injury.

  20. @darkblazerules :
    Exactly why Handmaster Plus was developed…most fatigue in guitar players is from the 'stabilizer' muscles, the finger extensors and the wrist extensors. Very few people train these muscles properly which results in overload on flexor muscles.

  21. @murphy0847:
    So you believe exercise should happen in 1 plane? This is what a spring loaded grippers does. How do you propse to exercise the extensor muscles through full ROM with an elastic band? This is vital to hand and wrist health. Can't wait to see your reply.

  22. @murphy0847
    Thanks for your reply… have seen so many athletes/musicians use spring loaded and coiled grip products alone develop shortened flexor muscles & static finger extensor muscles…then hand, wrist, elbow imbalance…can be very debilitating. They feel strong for a long time, then boom…imbalance is too much…and real problems. I agree coiled grip can be used with Handmaster Plus, but alone is bad soon, doczac

  23. Hey Doc, I race cross country atv races and my forearms are on fire after just a few miles of hard riding. This makes my hands weak and lose the grip on the handlebars thus not allowing me to push as hard as i need to for the 2hr races. Do you feel that your device will help me with this problem? If so, how long should i expect it to take to see an improvement.

  24. I am a sound designer and I use my midi keyboard a lot in combination with my computer keyboard and mouse. For the past several months my thumb has had pain when I move it in various positions. I went to an orthopedic doctor a month ago and he told me to wear a brace for a few weeks and then strengthen my hand with a racket ball. Precisely what you said not to use in this video.

  25. @echoexist :
    Thanks 4 ur q. I would suggest u see an ART therapist (search 'active release') for an opinion from soemone trained in soft tissue therapy. When u r ready to start therapy, yes, I highly suggest Handmaster Plus so you can strengthen ALL muscles of the thumb properly and in balance.
    Let me know if we can assist further..

  26. @doczac I actually just ordered the Handmaster Plus but I'll look into seeing an ART therapist. Thanks for the advice!

  27. @wilsonseto1 :
    When u have seen as many performance problems and hand, wrist and elbow imbalance as I have, you might understand my need to eductae people about the the muscles on the front and BACK of the forearm… or did you already know that before our sEMG research? Attitudes like yours are what keep us from progressing. If you participate in a grip activity, you might want to try to open up your mind and grow.

  28. @iceblue4u :

    Thanks for the feedback. Yes, the finger extensor muscles are key grip stabilizer muscles in any grip activity. Traditionally, there has been very little attention to these muscles (since the use of rice box exercise). It is why so many grip activities see fatigue, cramping, extensor tendonitis, and tennis elbow.


  29. @DenyInsorgere :
    Great observation. Yes, I have seen many climbers that develop hand muscle imbalance & we have done sEMG studies to show how active finger flexors are as well as finger extensors. We work with Metolius in the climbing market to distribute Gripsaver Plus by Metolius. You can easily get a complete balanced workout that will prepare you best for climbing. Search 'Metolius Climbing'. We have also just posted a very complete video on YouTube. Search 'Rock Climber Hand Exercise'

  30. @baker0957 :Pain in the wrist is pretty general. Both the tendons & ligaments must be tested. In bowlers, we see hand, wrist & elbow repetition injuries from loading, setting and unloading the ball weight with force . A lot may also depend on your technique. It is best to visit a therapist with experience in bowling injuries. We tell all bowlers to train properly using Handmaster Plus to prepare for practice & competition. It is more physical than most bowlers realize.

  31. @kingzmaul . Absolutely. Handmaster Plus strengthens & balances the 18 muscles of the hand (9 muscles close the hand & 9 muscles open the hand). This means stronger hands, wrists, forearms & elbows. The muscles that open the hand are grip stabilizers and most people have very weak stabilizers. Thus they are easy to injure as well. Complete hand muscle balance is vital for optimum health & performance.

  32. @CeltHound: Generally, the soft is for early rehabilitation & weakness, the medium is for late rehabilitation & wellness, & the firm is for advanced strength training. For most, the medium is the choice, unless you are very weak. An easy & cost-effective choice is to order the 3-pack, starting with the soft. The Handmaster Plus website sells 3-packs as well as singles.. Be sure you have the okay from a health care professional for exercise if you are already experiencing symptoms.

  33. @CeltHound: Hi again. Glad as a jewelry maker that you have been exposed to this threat to your health. Repetitive gripping, especially small items, creates chronic hand muscle imbalances that can affect the structure of the carpal tunnel as well as the hand, wrist & elbow. It will be very key for you to strengthen the 9 OPENING AND SPREADING MUSCLES of the hand. This is how you can offset repetitive grip injuries and other RSI's. Handmaster Plus accomplishes this easy/conveniently

  34. Grippers on their own are bad long term, short term they increase strength through a small range of motion (hand begins slightly closed) in one plane (this is what most grip strength products do that are coiled or spring loaded, not a natural ROM). The problem in the long term is the muscles of the hand also open fully. They should all be balanced or the mechanics of the hand, wrist & elbow are altered – why we see so much tendonitis, CTS, tennis elbow, arthritis. Combine it with HM+, then OK!

  35. Nice explanation. I plan on getting the Medium and Firm models to assist in strengthening these muscle groups

  36. AB:

    The exercises can be done 1-3 times daily until the user experiences a comfortable fatigue – as is outlined in the instructions.

    Let us know if we can assist further…


  37. I think it is an okay exercise if you have strong fingers already, but over time you will develop shortened finger extensor muscles unless you train the fingers through full ROMs directly

  38. Thanks for your Q. Sorry for the delay. Handmaster Plus is huge in all MMA training currently. Great for not only grip strength and performance at the fingers, thumb, hand, wrist, carpal tunnel, forearm & elbow, but also great for rehab of injuries and rebalancing. We are currently discussing a brand relationship with an MMA supply manufacturer.

  39. so how to do it? how to really strengthen the muscles of the hand? u are just giving academic lucture that give zero benefits to strengthen the hand or arm. NONSENSE

  40. Like asking 'What do you think of biceps machines only for the arms?' Hand grippers have become accepted as hand strengtheners, a HUGE error. First, hand moves in 3 dimensions not 2, the resistance is unnatural. Second allows only the flexor (hand closing) muscles to contract through their range of motion (ROM). The extensor (hand opening) muscles contract statically to support grip only so get trained in a TINY ROM. The result is joint imbalance & poor blood flow. ALL muscles must be trained.

  41. That's quite an eloquent explanation with why you don't believe grip training should balance all of the hand muscles instead of half of them. You aren't on the side that sees injury after injury because of this archaic way of thinking. Grippers strengthen in 2 dimensions my friend & cause imbalance if that is all you do. The world is round, not flat. Open up your mind or at least have a more informative view point as to why you would only want to address half of the grip muscles of the hand?

  42. The science is clear, the hand-opening muscles are co-contractors when gripping, they SUPPORT the action of the grip muscles. Limitations on grip strength are ALWAYS because of poor attention to grip stabilizer muscles. We've tested elite athletes, body-builders & strength athletes for 15+ years, we know we can add grip strength by properly training these muscles. Don't let your limited beliefs stop u from improving ALL aspects that relate to grip. The imbalance limits grip strength eventually.

  43. The science is clear, the hand-opening muscles are co-contractors when gripping, they SUPPORT the action of the grip muscles. Limitations on grip strength are ALWAYS because of poor attention to grip stabilizer muscles. We've tested elite athletes, body-builders & strength athletes for 15+ years, we know we can add grip strength by properly training these muscles. Don't let your limited beliefs stop u from improving ALL aspects that relate to grip. The imbalance limits grip strength eventually.

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