If you’re an artist, or if sewing is one of your hobbies or passions, keeping your hands in good shape can help prevent injuries and improve your skills. This article offers some simple hand strengthening exercises you can do every day.
The human hand is a miracle of nature. This useful appendage has over thirty individual muscles in it as well as 27 bones, and many of these muscles and bones work together in complicated ways. These muscles allow us to grab things, hold things, pick up things, as well as perform more complex motions such as threading a needle, working on a sewing machine, or stitching together quilt pieces.
Because there are so many moving parts to our hands, keeping them in good shape is important. When the muscles of the hands are weak, you can set yourself up for injury. Performing hand and finger mobility exercises can help you sew more comfortably and skillfully. Especially as we age, these exercises can help us avoid stiffness and achiness in our joints, muscles, and tendons when we sew.
Attention! If you like the video format, at the bottom of this post, look for a YouTube video version where there is a step-by-step video on hand strengthening exercises for artists. For a more complete picture, I recommend exploring both versions.
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Hand Exercises Equipment
Buying just a few pieces of inexpensive equipment can help you keep your hands, wrists, and fingers in great shape for sewing. If you want to increase your mobility, strength, and flexibility, it will be worth your money to purchase one of these items and use it regularly. What’s really great about hand and finger exercises is that they only take a few minutes a day, and you can probably do them during your down time, like when you’re watching television or reading a book.
You may have heard of stress balls, but if you haven’t ever had one, you may wonder – what is a stress ball? Simply put, a stress ball is a soft, malleable ball or toy that can fit in the palm of one hand.
Have you wondered what is the material in rubber squeeze ball? These balls can be made from gel or foam which provides resistance to exercise your hands. Sometimes, they are made of rubber.
These balls can be squeezed to strengthen your hands and wrists. Sometimes, people use them to relieve stress, since the act of clenching fists can release tension in the body.
How to Use a Squeeze Ball
To find out how to properly squeeze a stress ball and to learn how long should you squeeze a stress ball, read on. There are several ways to use a squeeze ball to exercise your hands.
#1. Squeeze the ball as hard as you can for three or four seconds and then release it for three or four seconds. As you do these exercises, focus on your breathing. Exhale as you clench your hand, and then inhale as you release. This action will give you the added bonus of helping you relax and refocus, since breathing exercises can regulate your heartbeat and help your body release stress. Do 10 to 15 reps with each hand to begin with, and you can add more sets as your hands get stronger.
#2. This next exercise will open up your hands and stretch them. Put the ball on a tabletop and place your hand atop it, palm up. Open your hand as wide as you can and sort of roll the ball forward and backward on the tabletop. As you roll the ball, guide it between each of your fingers to encourage them to splay outward, stretching your hands and fingers widely. Repeat this with both hands.
If you’re wondering where to buy gel squeeze balls, you can likely find them at any discount store. However, they can also be purchased at online retailers such as Amazon.
Rubber Band Finger Exercises to Strengthen Your Hands and Fingers
You may already have an item in your desk drawers that can help you strengthen and exercise your hands and fingers. What is this simple item? A basic rubber band. Rubber bands are great tools to help exercise your fingers and hand, providing resistance like an elastic fitness band.
A rubber band is an inexpensive aid for strengthening your hands. It’s easy to do finger extension exercises with a rubber band when you are watching television, on the phone, or reading a book. Learning how to do resistance band hand exercises will make sewing more pleasant and maybe even less painful if you have arthritis.
#1. Pinch together the fingers and thumb on one hand, as if you were going to imitate a duck or a bird with your hand. Put the rubber band around the outside of your pinched up fingers. Open your hand and fingers, stretching them against the resistance of the rubber band. Repeat these elastic band finger exercises 10 to 15 times and then switch hands. If your hands are tired or sore, stop. If not, do another 2 to 3 reps with both hands. As your hands get stronger, you can hold the hands and fingers open for 2 or 3 seconds before allowing them to close.
#2. Once you can do the above finger strengthening exercises with rubber band without a problem, you may want to add another rubber band to increase the resistance and strengthen your hands to a greater degree.
#3. Start with your less dominant hand when doing elastic band finger exercises. For lefties, this will be your right hand, and for right-handed individuals, this will be your left hand. Do as many finger exercises with a rubber band as you can with the less dominant hand, and then match that count on the more dominant hand. Doing this will help decrease the mismatch in strength and flexibility that most of us have between our right and left hands.
When you do these exercises to strengthen finger muscles consistently, you will soon find that you can sew more comfortably for longer periods of time. Knowing how to workout your fingers will lead to less stiffness and pain after cross stitching, quilting, or pinning pattern pieces to fabrics. Exercises to improve finger flexibility can help you stretch out your hands when they get crampy after a long stitching session.
Squeeze Rings Exercises for Strengthening Hands and Fingers
Squeeze rings are another tool that you can use to strengthen your hands, increase your dexterity, and improve your wrist and forearm strength. These items are made from heavy duty silicon that quickly springs back into shape as you squeeze and press it. You can also wash it if it gets dirty. Another great thing about these items is that they are very portable. Whether you are on the bus, watching a movie at the theater, or even when you are driving, you may be able to use squeeze rings to perform hand and finger exercises.
#1. Place the ring between the middle of your fingers and the palm of your hand. Squeeze the ring, squishing it for 2 seconds and then release for 2 seconds. As you get stronger, you may want to squish the ring for 3 to 5 seconds and release it for 3 to 5 seconds. Do this 10 to 15 times for each hand.
#2. Place the ring between the tips of your fingers and the thumb of your hand, squishing it with a kind of pinching motion. Press the ring for 2 to 5 seconds and then release. Repeat these 10 to 15 times on each hand.
#3. If these motions are too easy, go up to the next level of firmness in the squeeze ring. These items often come with multiple levels of firmness in one package.
#4. To use the finger exerciser, place your fingertips in each of the loops of the band. Open your hand as widely as you can, stretching your fingers wide. Hold it for 2 to 3 seconds and then release. Repeat this for 10 to 15 reps and then do it with your other hand.
I heard that scientific studies have shown that grip strength is directly proportional to one’s lifespan. Those with stronger grips tend to live longer than those with weaker grips. By working on the strength in your hands and arms with squeeze rings and a finger exerciser, you may live a healthier and probably even longer life.
Other Hand Strengthening Exercises
Sewing is one hobby that requires good hand strength, flexibility, and dexterity, but there are other activities that will benefit from stronger hands. Playing a musical instrument and gardening are two other activities that require good hand strength and flexibility.
Additionally, by strengthening your hands, you will also find that certain everyday activities are easier, like opening jars, folding laundry, or doing household repairs. However, it is not just your hands that require exercise. Your wrists need to stay strong because they work in tandem with your hands to do so many things. Additionally, exercises for hand-eye coordination can help you work more effectively as you sew.
Wrist Rotation Exercise
Exercises for wrist rotations can help increase the flexibility in your wrists.
#1. Make a fist with both hands, but do not clench them tightly. Next, rotate your wrists in a clockwise rotation about 5 to 10 times. Finally, reverse it, and rotate your wrists counterclockwise 5 to 10 times.
#2. Fold your hands together, interlacing the fingers. Extend your index fingers like they are pointing to the sky, facing one another. Twist and rotate your wrists in all directions for 30 seconds. This will loosen up the muscles in your wrists and help release any tension in your wrists.
#3. Extend your right arm directly out in front of you with the palm facing the sky. Use your other hand to gently pull the fingertips of your right hand toward the floor. Hold it for about 30 seconds. You should not feel any pain as you stretch out these muscles. Repeat with the other hand.
#4. Hold your right arm bent in front of you, parallel to your chest, with the palm facing downward. Use your left hand to gently push your hand to a 90-degree angle, just until you feel a stretch for about 30 seconds. Repeat this movement on your other hand.
What Are Exercises for Eye-Hand Coordination?
When sewing, hand-eye coordination is important. In general, as we age, our hand-eye coordination decreases if we do not make a conscious effort to retain it. Performing certain exercises can help us avoid this. Thankfully, sewing is a great way to retain and improve hand-eye coordination.
#1. Ball drops are a good way to practice hand-eye coordination. Use a tennis ball and allow it to drop from your hand and bounce off the floor. Catch the ball before it hits the floor a second time.
#2. Ball toss uses the same tennis ball as the previous exercise. Simply gently toss that ball from one hand to the other, trying to avoid dropping it. If you’re lousy at it, don’t give up; just keep practicing. You will improve.
33. Along with sewing, other forms of stitchery are great for increasing your hand-eye coordination. Things like crochet and knitting can increase our coordination. If you struggle with seeing small things, use chunky yarns and large needles and crochet hooks to create simple projects.
Exercise your wrists and hands at least 3 days a week. It is a good idea to have a rest day between sessions to help the muscles in your hands recover from your workout sessions.
The answer to this question can vary. Exercise your hands until they are just a little bit tired. Some days, this might be two sets of 10 to 15 reps per hand. On other days, it might be four sets of 10 to 15 reps. Don’t exercise your hands until they are sore and achy.
All of the muscles in your hands and fingers will benefit from your hand exercises. However, the muscles of your wrists and forearms will also grow stronger, since they work in tandem with the hand muscles.
Doing exercises with a stress ball, rubber bands, or other hand grip aids will also help strengthen your fingers. You can watch the above linked video to get more information on exercising your fingers.
If done consistently, finger exercises will work, making your hands and fingers much stronger, flexible, and dextrous. However, it will probably take two to three weeks of consistent effort to see the benefits.
So here is my YouTube video. Check this out if you like to see a helpful video on making hand and finger strengthening exercises.
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