15 Arthritis Hand Exercises to Reduce Joint Pain

Wysefit Team

February 4, 2020

Health & Longevity | Joints & Back Health

15 Arthritis Hand Exercises to Reduce Joint Pain

Arthritis can keep us from living a full life. And, unfortunately, many of us are diagnosed with this disease as we get older. The pain, swelling, and stiffness in our hands can make everything from brushing our teeth to opening the door difficult. While there is a place for medication and splints, there are other ways to decrease the pain in our joints: exercises! These exercises are specifically designed to strengthen the ligaments and tendons in our fingers and palms, as well as improve our range of motion. This means we’ll still be able to open jars, type on a keyboard, and cook.Here are 15 arthritis hand exercises to reduce joint pain.

#1 – Basic Fist

Let’s start with an easy exercise that is very simple to perform. This will strengthen our fingers so we can better perform daily tasks. Begin with your palm open and fingers straight. Gently make a fist, keeping your thumb outside your fingers. Try to wrap your thumb across the outside of your fingers if possible. You do not need to squeeze your fingers together tightly. Hold for a few seconds, and then extend your thumb and fingers again. Repeat 5 – 10 times on both hands.

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#2 – Finger Stretch

Next, we’ll stretch out our fingers. These types of exercises provide both pain relief and improved range of motion. Begin by placing your palm on a table, desk, or couch. Now, try to straighten your fingers as far as possible so that your palm is flat against the surface. Be gentle, and do not push your joints farther than they can go! Hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds and repeat 4 more times. Make sure you do the other hand too!

#3 – Finger Lift

This exercise will also strengthen our fingers, but it works the opposite tendons as the above exercise! Once again, begin by placing your hand palm-down on a flat surface. Slowly lift each finger off the table one at a time. Be sure to include your thumb! You only need to hold your fingers up for a few seconds at a time. Repeat on your other hand.

#4 – Finger Bends

This is another exercise that will strengthen our fingers! Begin with your fingers spread wide and your palm open. Then, slowly bend your thumb towards your palm and then straighten it again. Next, bend your index finger. Continue until you have done every finger on both hands. Then repeat one more time.

#5 – Thumb Touch

This exercise will increase our range of motion in our fingers and thumb. It is also great for improving our grip on small things like toothbrushes and pens. Begin with your fingers spread wide and palm open. Then, touch your index finger to your thumb for 20 – 30 seconds. Do the same with each finger. Repeat on both hands.

#6 – Thumb Flex

This exercise is just for our thumbs. It will help us get a better grip on our drinks, jars, and door handles. Begin in the same position at the previous exercise, with your fingers spread wide. Gently move your thumb across your palm, stretching it as far as it will go. Then, gently bring it back to the starting position. Do this on both hands, 10 times each.

#7 – Thumb Extension

Now that we worked our thumb one way, we need to practice moving it in the opposite direction! Hold your fingers straight, but all together. They should be touching. Slowly move your thumb away from your palm and then back again. To make this exercise more challenging, you can wrap a rubber band around your hand so that your thumb has to work against the resistance. Repeat this move at least 10 times on both hands.

#8 – Claw Stretch

Now, we’ll work on our fingers again. This exercise is designed to increase our range of motion. Begin with your fingers outstretched. Then, only bend your fingertips down until they can touch the base of your finger joints or the top of your palm. Do this with your thumb, as well! Your hand will look like a claw. Hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds before repeating it with the other hand.

#9 – Make a “C” or “O”

This exercise will help us strengthen our grip on smaller objects like medication bottles, utensils, and money. Begin with your fingers outstretched, and then curve your palm and fingers until they form an “O.” If you cannot connect your fingers to your thumb, then you can make a “C” instead! Repeat this movement at least 10 times on both hands.

#10 – Thumbs Up

Did you know that giving someone a thumbs up is a hand exercise? This exercise strengthens our thumbs and improves their mobility. Place your hand in a fist with your pinky finger on the table. Lift your thumb up until it you are giving a thumbs up. Then, open and close all four digits. Lower your thumb and then repeat again. You only need to hold each position for a few seconds. Repeat 10 times for both hands.

#11 – Squeezes

For this exercise, we’ll need a ball that is easy to hold and squeeze, like a stress ball. You could also use a tennis ball, just don’t squeeze too hard with those! However, you can squeeze a stress ball much harder than you should when only making a fist. Hold the squeezing position for a few seconds before releasing it. You can do this up to 15 times on each hand, three times a week.

#12 – Wrist Bend

Now we are going to move on to our wrists. These exercises will keep our wrists from becoming sore and stiff from typing, reading, and driving. Begin by holding one arm straight in front of you with the palm facing down. Now, take the opposite hand and gently press down on the hand of the extended arm. Try to make your fingers point towards the floor. Hold this for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times on both hands.

#13 – Wrist Extension

This exercise is very similar to the wrist bend, but it also includes flexing our wrist upward. Sit at a table or desk and place your arm on the flat surface. Your hand will be hanging off the side. Bend your wrist down and then bend it upwards so that your fingers are now facing the sky. This exercise a bit gentler than the previous one, so it may be better if your wrists are very sore and stiff. You can repeat this exercise 15 times on both hands.

#14 – Wrist Twist

For this exercise, start in the same position as the previous exercise, on a table or desk. Instead of pointing your hand down, rotate your wrist and forearm. Your palm will now be facing the ceiling. Twist your palm back down and repeat. Do this 10 – 15 times for both of your hands.

#15 – Wave Hello

You’ll once again need your table or desk for this exercise. Instead of laying your arm flat on the surface, you will roll it towards you so that your pinky is pointing down, and your thumb is pointing toward the ceiling. Then, move your wrist up and down, as if you were waving “hi.” Try to go as far and as low as your wrist will allow. Repeat 10 – 15 times in both directions before switching hands.


Strengthening our hands can help ease our joint pain and help us perform everyday tasks without help. We should practice these exercises regularly but always stop if they start to cause any pain. Remember that it is never too late to start exercising, no matter how advanced our arthritis may be. We can strengthen our hands and wrists, and improve our quality of life!

Looking for a fun training program with a hand and arm movement component? Check out our Wysefit Bellydance Program!

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