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Printed at: 05:25:18 / 18-09-2021

Rheumatology Hand and Wrist Exercise Programme

Please note, this page is printable by selecting the normal print options on your computer.

This exercise programme has been devised to involve every joint and muscle in your hands. It aims to:

• Maintain mobility
• Maintain strength
• Slow down certain deformities

Please complete each exercise 5 times at least 3 times a day. Perform each exercise daily, bending and stretching as far as possible – Remember to complete each exercise slowly.

Wriggle your fingers between each exercise relaxing all joints before moving on to the next exercise. You can gradually increase the number of repeats but if your hands begin to ache you have over done it.

Do not exercise when your joints are hot, red, swollen or painful.

1) Starting Position: Hands and forearms flat on a table, with your palms down and fingers/thumb straight.
Exercise: Lift thumbs up – hold – and lower, now lift the index finger up – hold – and lower. Repeat with middle, ring and little fingers. Continue to do this ten times.

Before moving on to the next exercise, wriggle your fingers.

2) Starting Position: Palms of hands flat on the table.
Exercise: Roll hands over until palms are upwards; try to touch the table with the tips of your thumbs.

Before moving on to the next exercise, wriggle your fingers. 

3) Starting Position: Hand and forearms on their side on the table, about a foot apart, little fingers touching the table, thumbs up and fingers straight.

Exercise: Bend in the two end joints of the fingers – hold – bend in knuckles to make a fist – hold – and open.

Before moving on to the next exercise, wriggle your fingers.

4) Starting Position: Put one hand flat on the table, palm down.

Exercise: Place other hand on top and gently soothe, straighten fingers out.

Before moving on to the next exercise, wriggle your fingers.

5) Starting Position: Hands and forearms on table with palms up.

Exercise: Bring thumbs towards base of little finger – hold – bring tips of thumbs out, try to touch the table with the nail of the thumb.

Before moving on to the next exercise, wriggle your fingers.

6) Starting Position: Make a circle between the tip of thumb and index finger by touching thumb and fingertip. Stretch out remaining fingers.

Exercise: Touch thumb to middle finger – hold – stretch out remaining fingers. Repeat with thumb to ring and then little fingers.

Before moving on to the next exercise, wriggle your fingers.

7) Starting Position: Place forearms on the arms of a chair with hands free over the edge, palms down and fingers relaxed.

Exercise: Lift hands up – hold – push hands down – hold.

Before moving on to the next exercise, wriggle your fingers.

8) Starting Position: Hold a letter, newspaper or piece of paper between your thumb and index finger.

Exercise: Hold the other end of the paper with the opposite hand and try to pull it away – hold. Continue with holding the paper between the index and middle fingers, middle and ring fingers and finally ring and little fingers.

Before moving on to the next exercise, wriggle your fingers.

9) Starting Position: Forearms on table with palms down and fingers spread.

Exercise: Walk fingers one at a time towards your thumb.

Before moving on to the next exercise, wriggle your fingers.

10) Exercise: Holding two ping pong balls in the palm of your hand. Rotate the balls towards the thumb trying not to let the balls touch each other.

If you have any queries about these exercises or your treatment in the Hand Therapy Unit do not hesitate in contacting the unit on (01908) 995411 or speak to your Hand Therapist at your next appointment.