What causes a loss of grip strength, and how to fix it

Losing strength in your hands and grip can be scary, especially if you’ve always led an active lifestyle and aren’t sure what to do about declining grip strength.

In this blog, we’ll cover some of the top reasons your grip strength might be declining, why you shouldn’t wait for it to return on its own, and our top recommended exercises and products for repairing, improving, and preventing grip strength loss.

Symptoms of a loss in grip strength

Loss of grip strength is relatively common, especially as we age or if you engage in sports that apply repetitive strain to your hands and wrists, like rock climbing, tennis, or golf.

Some common symptoms of a weakened or weakening grip include:

  • Hand fatigue
  • Difficulty lifting everyday items, like a coffee pot or frying pan
  • Hand, wrist, or finger numbness
  • Hand pain
  • Clumsiness with using hands
  • Elbow or lower arm pain
  • A sudden decline in performance in sports or activities you engage in frequently

What causes a loss in grip strength?

There are a variety of reasons you might be experiencing a loss in grip strength, from a sudden acute injury to inflammation or conditions that progress over time, such as arthritis.

Some common causes of grip strength include:

Trauma or injury: If you’ve experienced a hand, wrist, or arm injury recently, it may cause a decrease in grip strength. If these symptoms persist over time, you may want to consult a doctor or physical therapist to get professional help recovering from your injury.

Inflammation: One of the most common causes of a loss of grip strength is inflammation in the joints, through diseases such as arthritis.

Carpal tunnel syndrome: Carpal tunnel is a condition that causes numbness, tingling, or weakness in your hand. This can be caused by everyday repetitive motions, such as typing, or any wrist movements that you do over and over.

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis): Tennis elbow is commonly experienced by tennis players but can occur in anyone who participates in activities that strain the tendons of the elbow. It usually occurs with a sharp pain on the outside of the elbow, and sometimes in the forearm and wrist.

These are some of the most common causes of a loss in grip strength but is not an exhaustive list. Talk to your doctor for medical advice.

How to prevent and repair lost grip strength

Most grip weakness can begin to be treated at home through immobilization, over-the-counter medications, and exercise.

Immobilization:

First, if you’re experiencing a repetitive stress injury like carpal tunnel or tennis elbow, you may need to stop or slow down the activities that caused the injury.

Limiting the use of the hand can help to build back strength and reduce pain. This can be done through a simple splint or brace that immobilizes the wrist.

Over-the-counter medications:

NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin may help reduce hand weakness symptoms caused by inflammation or pain. These medications are commonly used to help with symptoms of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, but they don’t fix the root cause of the issue.

Exercise:

One of the easiest and most effective treatments for a loss of grip strength is doing the right exercises consistently. Dynatomy’s products have been created with input from hand therapists to help improve grip and recover from injury faster.

Our Top Exercises to Improve Grip Strength and Recover from Loss of Grip:

Full finger extension: You can do this exercise by slowly making a fist, and then with control, slowly opening and extending your fingers as wide as possible. Hold for 3-5 seconds and return to the start position. But to really improve your strength, you need to work with resistance. Try doing this exercise with the Constant Force X-Tend. The unique constant level of resistance throughout the full range of motion will challenge your intrinsic and extrinsic extensors. This will allow you to work on improving range of motion, dexterity, and control.

Exercise to improve grip strengthWrist extension: Hold one arm straight out in front of you at shoulder height. Make a stop sign with your hand and use your other hand to gently pull the palm back toward your body. You should feel a stretch in your inner forearm. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat 5 times on each side. You can also do this as a warmup before exercises that involve your grip.

Wrist flexion: Hold one arm straight out in front of you at shoulder height. With the palm facing away from your body and fingers pointing down, use your other hand to gently pull the palm back toward your body. You should feel this in your outer forearm. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, rest, and repeat five times per side.

 

Shake it out: Easy as it sounds! Shake your hands like you’re shaking off water. Aim to do this for one or two minutes each hour to keep your median nerve from feeling tight. This is also great to do when you first wake up in the morning.

Thumb touches: One at a time, connect the tip of each finger to your thumb to make an O-shape. Repeat several times. You can also work on this motion with the VariGrip Uno to improve range of motion in your thumb and fingers while strengthening your flexor and extensor muscles in your forearms. Building strength in this way will go a long way to helping ease pain!

Exercise for a better grip