A few quick and easy exercises can relieve pain and stiffness in the hands due to rheumatism and make everyday tasks easier.

Hand exercises help keep your fingers moving by keeping tendons flexible and improving circulation to your joints. Loss of finger strength and flexibility is a common complaint in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Fortunately, practicing a few easy hand exercises without special equipment or a lot of time can be extremely beneficial, both in ending pain and stiffness and in improving joint function. This is a good way to strengthen the muscles a bit and allow patients to gauge their activity level.

A few rules of thumb to maximize profits

If something hurts you, stop. In general, you can repeat the following exercises up to five times per session, once or twice a day. Ask your doctor or physical therapist what is the best number of repetitions for you to avoid strains.

Moist heat can facilitate movement in manual exercises for rheumatoid arthritis and help prevent discomfort. One solution is to soak your hands in warm water for 5-10 minutes before you begin. Treating your hands with a hot paraffin bath or wrapping them in a towel previously soaked in hot water are other options. You can also practice some of these exercises, such as clenching your fist, while taking a hot shower.

1. Improve your flexibility by raising your flat-handed fingers

Start by placing your hands flat, palm down, on a table or against a wall. Then, starting with the thumb, slowly lift each finger individually from the table. Hold each finger in the air for a second or two, then gently lower it back down.

2. Increase your range of motion by making a fist

Start by extending your fingers, then bring them together in the center of your palm to form a loose fist (the thumb should be placed between the fingers and not under them). Hold this position for one minute, then slowly open the hand and repeat the operation several times for each hand.

3. Improve your grip by walking your fingers

Place a towel or kitchen towel flat on a table. With one hand slightly cupped and supported by fingertips and thumb, “walk” your fingertips toward you to raise the towel into the palm of your hand. Put as much of the towel as you can into your fist and gently squeeze. This allows you to become aware of how RA can affect your grip and the strength of your grip, she explains. Repeat the exercise several times, then switch to the other hand.

4. Increase your dexterity by pinching your fingers

Pinching your thumb at the end of each of your fingers, one at a time, can help make everyday tasks, like tying shoelaces or pulling up buttons, easier if you have RA. Take your thumb, touch one finger and press it firmly, like pliers. Hold this pressure for a second or two, then release. Do this with each finger individually.

5. Keep your thumb nimble with a simple stretch

It is necessary to focus on your thumb as it plays an important role in many hand movements. A key exercise for maintaining thumb function starts with your thumb pointing outward, away from your palm. Then move your thumb across your palm to try to touch the base of your little finger. This type of motion can help you grab circular objects, such as hairbrushes.

6. Keep your flexibility by spreading your fingers

Just spread your fingers and thumb as wide as possible, slowly and gently. Hold this position for several seconds. It’s a great way to reduce stiffness and strengthen the muscles around your hand joints.

Know when it’s best to take a break

Successful treatment of rheumatoid arthritis requires knowing when to temporarily stop exercising. For example, during flare-ups or worsening of your symptoms, it may be best to wear a brace or support splint and not exercise to avoid further damage to your joints. Listen to your body.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.