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5 Hand Exercises for Multiple Sclerosis

January 17, 2018

A common symptom of multiple sclerosis is losing strength and dexterity in your hands, as well as your hands’ ability to feel. Thankfully, there are specialized movement therapies and exercises that can help get you through these symptoms.

These exercises won’t exactly relieve your numbness, but they can help you retain some of that hand strength and your fine motor skills. They can help improve your ability to grip and pinch with your hands. Overtime, your strength and range of motion will improve, you will eventually need to add resistance in order to continue increasing your overall strength.

Finger Flexion Extension

Begin by making a fist with one hand, then straighten your fingers and stretch out your hand. Repeat this exercise with the other hand and gradually work your way to doing up to 10 to 15 repetitions. Start out by doing this exercise once a day, then eventually progress to doing two sets in a row or at least two times during the day. If you are trying to increase your grip strength, use a tennis ball, therapeutic putty or a sponge, put it in your hand and squeeze and release.

Finger Abduction and Adduction

Straighten the fingers and spread them apart in one hand, then squeeze them together. Repeat this action with the other hand and perform three to five repetitions to begin, eventually you will be able to progress to 10 to 15 reps once, then twice, a day. Add resistance to this helpful exercise by placing a rubber band around your fingers when they are in the closed position and begin the exercise.

Rice Exercises

Yes, you read that correctly—rice! Place a large bag of rice in a big bucket then place your hands in the bucket and open and close them in a few different positions. You can do it with your palms facing each other, palms facing away from each other, palms facing your body, or palms facing away from your body. You can also try rotating your hands in a clockwise direction and then counterclockwise in the rice. You can also do this exercise with sand if you prefer it.

Movement Therapy AKA “Piano Hands”

Sit tall in a chair either facing a desk or table, place your hands palm down on the edge of your table and lift your fingers up and down one at a time as if you were playing the piano. Move your fingers up and down the imaginary keyboard, to make it more fun, turn on some real music and “play the piano” along to the music. To start, play only 20 to 30 seconds, but gradually increase the time until you can eventually play an entire song.

Finger Pinch

Roll a washcloth or therapy putty into a tube-like shape. Using your thumb and index finger, pinch along the tube from one end to the other, then repeat this exercise with your other hand. In order to strengthen the palm, use your thumb, index finger and third finger to pinch the tube-shaped object of your choice. Repeat with your other hand and do this exercise or the other three to five times with each hand, eventually working your way up to 10 to 15 reps.