dansm's guide to hand care

strengthening your hand
at the beginning of the summer, i was frustrated that my hands still hurt when i played certain barre chords. so i decided to invent a hand-strengthening exercise program, and this is what came of it. the main ingredient in the exercises is a hand exerciser like the one shown below. they can be found in any sporting goods store and shouldn't cost more than $4-5. once you have one of these (you may have something like it laying around), you can proceed to the exercises below.

strenghtening your fingers
this exercise is designed to strengthen your fingers. it is very simple, and is depicted in the diagram below:

simply hold the exersizer in your hand, as shown above, and squeeze. it will take a while to get the actual orientation exactly right, but it will come. now simply squeeze and release the exercizer rapidly until you can't do it anymore. repeat 2-4 times every day every day, and your hand will be much stronger in no time. after your hand has reached your desired strength level, don't stop using the exerciser; keep using it at least once a day to maintain that strength.

strenghtening your thumb
this exercise is designed to strengthen your thumb. i had a problem with cramping in my hand after playing a lot of barre chords, and this exercise ended that problem. it is as easy as the last one, and is depicted in the diagram below:

just hold the exerciser betwen your thumb and fingers, as shown above, then squeeze in and release. do it until your arm gets tired or until your hand cramps. repeat 2-3 times a day, possibly alternating with the exercise above. like the exercise above, don't stop after you think you are strong enough; keep doing it to maintain that strength.

that's about it for hand strength. if anyone has any suggestions of exercises, feel free to e-mail me. the great thing about these exercises is that they help prevent hand injuries as well, like repetitive stress injury and carpal tunnel syndrome. thanks a lot to steve chow, the only guy on my floor who could draw, for the great pictures! enjoy the exercises.
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1997 daniel e. smith. last updated 10-16-97