Spinning Tuesdays: My Aching Hands

My hands hurt. It’s not carpal tunnel or anything chronic, but simple overuse.

Most things I do for work and a lot of what I do for fun use the same hand gesture – a kind of cupping with fingers together, like a lobster claw. Spinning, knitting, typing on the computer and even holding a book to read or a steering wheel – all lobster hands.

I’m trying to do less (wah!) , stretch my hands and fingers and strengthen them. One thing in I never thought of that a friend and massage therapist mentioned to me is strengthening the backs of my hands and fingers.

That was a huge ‘d’oh’ moment for me. I’ve always stretched my hands and fingers in the opposite direction, but I never thought about how strong the insides of my hands are compared to the muscles in the back of my hand.

Here’s a big disclaimer: If you have hand or wrist pain – go see your doctor to make sure it’s nothing serious! Don’t assume your hand pain is the same as mine and will feel better with the same exercises.

I’ve been using Power Putty and doing hand and finger strengthening exercises similar to those that rock climbers and guitarists use. I found mine at REI.

Power Putty

It’s like a super resistant silly putty, and comes with a sheet of exercises to get you started. After a week of doing exercises (along with stretching and backing off of constant lobster hand activities) my hands already feel better.

How do you keep your hands and fingers in shape?


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18 thoughts on “Spinning Tuesdays: My Aching Hands

  1. Heather

    I get Tendonitis from knitting too much! I’m very interested in trying the power putty…..what “color” did you start with?

  2. Sherry in Idaho

    I got a series of 5 hand exercises from the Arthritis Foundation and use those to try to keep my hands in shape.

  3. Meg

    I mind my sleeping position for my arms. My doctor says beware of “praying mantis” arms when you sleep and to try and sleep with arms straight at your side. Also I wear braces on my wrists. The biggest culprit: Computer mousing is a big “no no” 🙁

  4. Olivia

    I play the piano. I find that playing pieces that have octive chords in them is really great for stretching my hands. Music and knitting how great is that.

  5. Liz in Missouri

    Don’t know as I ever thought about strengthening my hands – but this is GREAT information. Lately I’ve had the feeling that some long-ago carpal tunnel was trying to show it’s ugly head again (had surgery for this years ago) so I’ve been making a point of stretching my hands and fingers backwards as far as they would go. Also – being careful about not curling my wrists when I sleep. The exercises sound like a good idea though. Think I’ll start with the various “stress” toys that we get from some of our distributors here at work.

    1. marta

      I was at black sheep gathering and I took two knitting classes. All of that knitting along with my regular knitting gave me a sudden onset of sharp pain in my wrist by my thumb. I haven’t knitted in 2 days. Any suggestions?

  6. Ellen

    THANK YOU for this information! I can’t wait to go buy some of this stuff. I work at a computer, and between typing, mousing, and knitting, I have wrist, forearm, and elbow fatigue and pain. I have found that massage therapy helps a lot, as does backing off knitting (I’d rather back off work!). I just can’t knit as much as I’d like to anymore, which is very sad. Hoping that Power Putty helps!

  7. Linda

    Taiko! (Japanese drumming)
    I play in a local group and we use large wooden “bachi” (drumsticks) that really loosen up the wrists and arms and help prevent repetitive motion injuries.

  8. Lotsofhermies on Rav

    My mom is a massage therapist. She uses power putty as well. she also recommends checking your posture. She suggested “E”cises. I use the ones for heavy computer users makes a huge difference in my “tendonitis carpal tunnel” symptoms. Keeps me knitting. But as stated make sure you see a doctor first to make sure it isn’t something serious.

  9. Carrie

    Yoga. I do all kinds of hand, wrist and shoulder exercises that really help. The book “Yoga as Medicine” has great things you can try for hand and wrist pain.

  10. Rickie

    I had major wrist, thumb, elbow and neck problems several years ago. Mostly from knitting and spinning but also from computer/mouse use. What helped me most was thinking of knitting/spinning as an athletic event for my hands. If you have been a couch potato for 6 months, would you consider jogging for 10 miles? Never! you would work up to it. Same thing for my hands. The most recent Interweave knits has a nice series of hand exercises on the last page. I copied it and carry it in my knitting bag.

  11. sarah

    i had pain in my hand and fingers that was excruciating. i was fearful that i’d have to take a break from knitting. my monthly visit to the chiropractor gave me tremendous relief and within a week of the visit, with regular icing, complete relief. the culprit was actually not my hand or wrist, although they were slightly locked up. it was my neck….my c5 and c7 according to my chiro. my neck was entirely locked up. i was amazed.

  12. Carol

    I have tendonitis and I use “Catspaw” hand exerciser to strengthen the backs of my hands. It is a small piece of neoprene with finger-holes which causes resistance when OPENING your hand. You could use rubber-bands I suppose. We are clenched closed so much it is important to create opposite motion.
    Stretch your hands OPEN.

  13. meredith

    Wow, I am a mailcarrier and I knit on all my breaks and free time. If this works it will be a life (job) saver because I am not giving up knitting. Thank you so much! I will try one level down from the blue.

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