“You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”
That's the truth when it comes to grip strength!
Grip strength is the amount of force you can generate when grabbing something.
The first thing that might come to mind when thinking about your grip strength is opening a pickle jar. The struggle is real if you don’t have a lot of grip! And there are SO many things you do all day long that require a good grip - almost every activity you do.
Just think about it:
- Turning a doorknob
- Driving your car
- Grocery shopping
- Doing your laundry
- Carrying your kids
- And on and on!
And if you are an athlete, you REALLY need it:
Virtually every sport also requires grip strength, and it’s not just for lifting weights.
Baseball, tennis, softball, and more - the level of grip strength makes all the difference.
Anyone serious about lifting weights knows how important grip strength is - the better your grip, the more weight you can usually move. Maybe you can do bicep curls all day long, but when you do pullups, your grip often fails you.
Why is grip strength important?
If you don’t have good grip strength, mundane tasks take longer, and it’s not only irritating but can significantly impact your life. Research has shown that grip strength is associated with several health indicators like mobility and even heart health and cognitive ability - and stronger grip has even been associated with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that grip strength predicts muscular endurance and overall strength. As you age, it’s important to know your grip strength - poor grip strength can signify that muscles are weakening, maybe due to a significant health issue.
One of those issues could be arthritis. Inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can affect it and make using your hands painful. For those who suffer from RA, treatments like medication and therapy help. Also, compression gloves are a vital component for RA and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome sufferers to help take the stress off of their hands. They help ease pain, improve circulation, reduce stiffness and inflammation, and improve grip strength. Gloves with an open finger design allow you to touch and grip freely. Copper Fit Compression Gloves support the wrist, palm, and fingers, and the Guardwell Hand Protector, a full hand glove made from compression infused fabric, fits like a second skin and provides all-day comfort.
Anyone with tennis elbow knows that a sore elbow can make your grip painful. That’s because it’s not ALL about the hands: grip strength involves everything from the muscle near the elbow down to the fingertips - and 35 of the muscles involved in moving the fingers are in your forearm and hand. The whole arm is involved when talking about grip. The support of compression sleeves such as Copper Fit’s ELITE Elbow Sleeve can provide support not only for the elbow but also positively affect the grip.
How do you measure grip strength?
For older adults, it’s a good idea to get an accurate measurement of your grip strength. A quick test is an easy way to assess your overall health status. The easiest way is with a dynamometer - a simple tool at the doctor’s office.
Or you can try this at the gym:
- Grip a pull-up bar with your palms facing away from your body.
- Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended, shoulders down, and feet off the bench or floor.
- If you can hold on for at least 30 seconds, your grip is good.
If your grip strength is not so great, simple exercises can be done regularly to improve hand strength. We’ve put our favorites together for you.
Here are 10 Easy Exercises to Improve Grip Strength:
- Wring a towel - it’s as simple as soaking a towel, holding it horizontally, then twisting the towel to remove the water from it. Switch directions.
- Hang a towel over a pull-up bar, and grab one end in each hand. Hang from the towel, then pull yourself up until your chin is above your hands.
- Place a rubber band over your knuckles. Resist against the band to expand your fingers, stretching them out. Hold this position for three to five seconds, then slowly control the fingers as you return to your starting position.
- Use your thumb to touch each of your fingers, tip to tip.
- Grip a foam ball, stress ball, or sponge. Grip the item, hold for three to five seconds, and relax.
- At the gym: a simple deadlift is great for strengthening.
- A hand grip strengthener is easy to use anytime. Most gyms have them: flex your fingers into palms. Squeeze in and out for 20 seconds, and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this pattern for three rounds.
- Doing everyday tasks that strengthen hands, like washing your car instead of going to the car wash and vacuuming, are excellent for hand strength.
- A Famer’s Walk is simply holding a dumbbell in each hand while walking. When your grip gets tired, take a break, and start again.
Copper Fit Tip: Don’t forget your feet. The feet need a grip, too, in a different way. Whether walking on a hardwood floor, doing Pilates, or Yoga, use Copper Fit Gripper Socks to stay stable, so you don’t slip.
So, stay on top of your grip strength. Whether you are staying strong as you age, working on comfort and strength as a RA or carpal tunnel sufferer, or want to be on American Ninja Warrior - you can truly get a (better) grip!