The bones in your hand have a slick, protective covering called “cartilage” on the joint surfaces that touch each other. This cartilage serves as a friction reducer and shock absorber, thereby, helping to extend the life of your joints. “Arthritis” means that your cartilage has begun to thin or crack and may eventually wear away –impairing your strength and dexterity. Painful hand arthritis affects up to 1 in 4 people. This degeneration has a tendency to affect specific joints, especially those of your index and middle fingers and the base of your thumb. Here’s an exercise to help loosen stiff joints.
- Begin with your hand facing palm-down on a table. Completely flatten your hand to straighten your fingers. Use your other hand for added pressure, if needed. Release pressure, relax your hand and repeat 5 times.
- With your hand in front of you, touch each of your fingertips (one at a time) to the tip of your thumb 5 times.
- Curl your fingertips toward your knuckles. With your opposite hand, grasp your fingers and gently squeeze your bent fingers 5 times.
- Make a fist. Open your hand to spread your fingers as wide as possible. Repeat 5 times.
- Place a large rubber band around your thumb and fingertips. Against the resistance of the band, spread your fingers 5 times.
Perform this complete series of exercises twice per day, or as directed.