Stress Ball Exercises for Your Hand

Strain from repetitive actions (particularly phone and computer use) can create muscular soreness and stiffness from the fingertips to the shoulders. Using stress balls regularly can relieve some of this tension. A study published in the Journal of Hand Therapy in July 2007 using stress balls to combat symptoms of osteoarthritis noted an increase in grip strength and dexterity, along with an accompanying decrease in pain.

Assess Your Strength

To get a sense of your maximum grip strength, squeeze the ball as hard as possible, then release. Now, squeeze the ball with about half as much pressure, then repeat. Your goal is to maintain about one-quarter of your maximum possible pressure, to exercise the hand without inducing further strain.

Warm Up

Squeeze the stress ball briefly but firmly 10 to 20 times. Switch to your other hand. Although you feel no strain on your less dominant side, your hands work in tandem throughout the day. Your body can benefit from strength and flexibility training on both sides.

Grip Strength

Squeeze the ball for five seconds, then release. Note any tension or discomfort in your fingers and wrist, then adjust your pressure accordingly. Do not strain. Squeeze the stress ball again, firmly but without any discomfort. Repeat five to 10 times.

Finger Strength

Pinch the ball between your thumb and various fingers, noting variations in strength between the digits. Press equally with each finger to avoid muscle strain around the thumb. You can also use one hand to try to pry the ball away from the other hand. Rest your hands as soon as they feel tired.

Palm Strain

Roll the stress ball between your palms or alternate palms, and roll the ball on a hard surface. You can also roll the ball between your forefinger and thumb to relieve tension induced by using the computer mouse.

Wrist Strain

Gripping the stress ball with both hands, twist each hand as if opening a jar lid, then twist the other direction. Be extremely careful with this exercise as it can induce further wrist strain.

Stress Ball Red Flags

Hand or wrist strain with swelling and inflammation, severely impaired basic function or pain along the entire side of the body may be the sign of a serious medical condition and require professional attention. As with any exercise equipment, stress balls use stress balls in moderation.

About this Author

Trina Lion has been a literacy consultant for 14 years: writing, proofreading and copyediting for an array of industries, and spearheading grant-funded literacy programs for families. Lion has written for Braille Bug, the children’s website of the American Foundation of the Blind, and “Acupuncture Today,” a journal for practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine.