Hand Exercise Neglect – A Convenience Issue?

January 31, 2014

When I first started thinking about hand exercise, I was as a young athlete growing up in my hometown of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. My early sports loves were hockey and golf. In fact they still are. And both were very much grip related sports. I had to learn about hand exercise. I have since added personal interests in the grip-related activities of music, ergonomics and rehabilitation.

Back in the day, grip-only hand exercise was all I knew. Spring loaded hand grippers and squeeze balls (especially racquet balls) for me did the trick. They really seemed to work well. And man, they were easy to do! Squeeze, relax, squeeze, relax… repeat… repeat. Strong hands were on their way. Easy Peasy! Right? Right!

Later in life I became more deeply enthralled with learning about muscle training and balance, not only in the hand, but in the rest of the body. As a health care professional in training, I was taught to think outside the box and question any health or fitness habit or belief. And I did. And I still do. At the very least, this strategy has helped me learn well… and at the most, this approach really has helped me to see many misunderstandings – frankly, folklore – in our health and fitness systems. There is a lot of poor advice that we have come to accept as fact. Be careful.

One of the great folklore categories was hand exercise. 18 hand muscles affect the working of the hand itself and only 9 of those are involved in the direct closing of the hand. Grip-only hand exercise was not only not the way to train, it could lead to debilitating muscle imbalance and joint instability. Simple anatomy. No chance for controversy. Hand grip is a co-contraction between the flexor and extensor muscles of the hand. Wanna be your best? Gotta train them all. All 18. In balance. No question. Carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, cramping, fatigue, weakness, numbness, adhesions… all can have the base cause of hand muscle imbalance.

My love for hockey and golf later placed me in the spotlight as an adviser for grip mechanics to many athletes and musicians, and my advice did not often thrill them. Balls & elastic bands would be necessary to properly train their hand muscles… and I taught them that in no uncertain terms, proper hand muscle training would be the key to stabilize the hand, as well as wrist, carpal tunnel & elbow. Two items and multiple exercises later, they were burdened with trying to get this all done. I bet they wish they had never learned the details, because the program I gave them was unreasonably time consuming… and as a result, few really complied.

I knew that to train people properly, complete hand exercise would have to be simplified to a point that anyone could understand it and anyone could do it. This path has been a blessing because Handmaster Plus was developed through these failures, experiences and challenges. And we are now helping people strengthen the 9 muscles that close the hand AND the 9 muscles that open the hand in one simple exercise… around the world. It’s now just as convenient to train the hands properly as it was in the day where I only used a racquet ball only.

Convenient and complete hand exercise. That’s good news for athletes, musicians, ergonomics and therapy. But if you won’t train your hand properly nowadays, it’s your own fault. Handmaster Plus makes it so easy.

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