In yoga class, we work ever part of the body including the hands and fingers to strengthen them. We do this through gripping our feet in several postures and using that grip to pull our bodies either towards our feet or to the ground.
This is important because as we get older, we naturally lose strength for gripping through lack of use. But after watching the video below, I learned that properly strengthening our gripping muscles involves both the muscles we use to close our hands as well as those that open them.
For example, for strengthening, many people use a soft ball in the hand and squeeze it. While this strengthens the muscles in the inner forearm, it does very little for the hand opening muscles on the top surface of the forearm. In the video Dr. Terry Zachary explains that this can shorten the hand closing muscles, leading to imbalance and problems with the fingers, thumbs, hand, and carpal tunnel.
He’s actually developed a cool little tool called Hand Master Plus that looks like a rubber ball with loops that fit around the fingers. You can work both the opening and closing muscles of the forearm by squeezing the ball, then opening the hand. The loops create resistance during this motion, which works the hand opening muscles.
If you suffer from carpel tunnel or experience pain in your hands, these types of exercises would be beneficial for balancing the muscles supporting their function. And maintaining strength in my hands is so important, because that last thing I want is problems opening a jar of almond butter… : )