Stiff Hands in the Morning? Try These 9 Exercises
Do you wake up in the morning with stiff, weak, or sore hands? This common hand condition can make it difficult to perform even the most basic everyday tasks. Stiffness can result from overuse or repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, dehydration, inactivity, or underlying conditions such as arthritis.
The good news is that you can do some easy exercises at home to alleviate discomfort and prevent joint stiffness. In this article, read as our team at The Hand and Wrist Institute in Texas shares the exercises you can do at home to help relieve hand stiffness, particularly in the morning.
Wrist Flexor Stretches
The primary benefit of stretching your wrist flexor is to improve wrist flexibility and range of motion. These stretches specifically target the muscles and tendons responsible for bending your hand and wrist, known as the flexor muscles. To stretch them, extend your arm in front of you with your palm facing downward. Use your opposite hand to gently press down on your fingers, stretching the wrist and forearm. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and then repeat on the other hand.
Wrist Extensor Stretches
Wrist extensor stretches specifically target the muscles and tendons responsible for extending your wrist, known as your extensor muscles. To stretch them, extend your arm in front of you with your palm facing upward. Use your opposite hand to gently press down on your fingers, stretching the wrist and forearm. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and then repeat on the other hand.
Finger Tapping Exercises
Finger tapping is an easy and effective exercise for improving the blood flow to your hands and fingers. This exercise helps enhance joint mobility, reduce muscle stiffness, and support the optimal function of the muscles and joints in the fingers. To stretch them, lightly tap each finger against your thumb. Focus on a controlled, rhythmic tapping motion to improve blood flow and reduce stiffness.
Grip and Release Exercises
A grip and release exercise provides several benefits if you’re suffering from stiff hands, particularly those dealing with conditions that affect hand mobility and dexterity. Gripping and releasing a ball helps strengthen the muscles responsible for holding onto objects, which is essential for everyday tasks. Hold a soft stress or foam ball in your hand. Squeeze the ball as tightly as you comfortably can and then release it. Next, stretch your fingers out as far as you can into the shape of a fan. Repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions.
Table bending exercises are a simple and effective exercise to help relieve hand stiffness. This exercise focuses on gently bending the fingers at the knuckles, promoting flexibility and reducing hand tension. Place your hand on a table with your palm facing down. Gently bend your fingers backward at the knuckles, bringing your fingertips toward you. Hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions.
Knuckle bends target the joints and muscles in the fingers. This exercise helps promote flexibility, reduce tension, and improve overall hand mobility. It’s an exercise you can do anywhere, anytime. Hold your hand in a relaxed position. Bend your fingers at the knuckles, bringing them toward your palm. Hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions.
Thumb stretches are great for relieving hand stiffness, especially in the morning, and are helpful for performing various daily activities involving thumb movement and grip. These stretches improve flexibility and overall hand mobility and focus on the muscles, tendons, and joints in the thumb. To stretch your thumbs, gently pull each thumb backward toward the base of the hand. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat for both thumbs.
Performing wrist circles is an effective exercise to soothe hand stiffness. These exercises help to engage the muscles and joints in the hands and wrists to increase flexibility and blood circulation. Rotate your wrists in circular motions, both clockwise and counterclockwise, to promote flexibility.
Rubber Band Exercises
Using a rubber band to stretch your hand muscles effectively improves strength in your hands and fingers. It increases your range of motion and prevents joint stiffness, which is particularly important if you have conditions such as arthritis. Place a rubber band or a hair tie around your fingers and thumb. Slowly open your hand, spread your fingers against the resistance of the rubber band, and then close it. Repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions.
Regular Hand Movements
Even if you’re not performing hand or wrist exercises, try to incorporate regular hand movements throughout the day to prevent stiffness. Rotate your wrists, flex and extend your fingers, and make fists now and then. It’s essential if you work a sedentary office job where typing and incorrect hand mechanics can cause issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Consider Making Some Lifestyle Changes
Apart from exercises, you can make plenty of lifestyle changes to prevent and reduce the effects of stiff hands. As dehydration can impact how lubricated and flexible your joints are, ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day to support joint lubrication. Consider including foods with anti-inflammatory properties in your diet, such as omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, and vegetables.
Consult a Healthcare Professional
Remember to perform these exercises slowly and gently. Stop and consult with a healthcare professional if you experience pain during any exercise. If your morning stiffness persists or worsens, we recommend consulting a healthcare professional, such as our Dallas hand surgeons. We can evaluate your symptoms, conduct any necessary tests, and provide an accurate diagnosis. Based on our findings, we can also prescribe personalized recommendations and treatment to alleviate symptoms and prevent further joint stiffness. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.