To increase strength and dexterity in your hands after stroke, hand therapy ball exercises are a great, affordable option.
Although hand exercise balls are simple, there’s a lot you can do with them to strengthen your hand.
Hand Therapy Ball Exercises
Start with a set of 10 repetitions of each exercise, then build up your strength to aim for 2-3 sets of 10. As long as these exercises do not cause you pain, you can even try to do them a few times a day!
1. Power Grip
Squeeze the therapy ball with your fingers and thumb. Squeeze and release.
For this exercise, pinch the hand therapy ball with your fingers and thumb extended. And by extended, we mean keep all your fingers straight. This will help strengthen different muscles that the ones targeted by curled fingers.
3. Thumb Extension
With your palm flat (as flat as you can), place the therapy ball on your palm and use your thumb to keep it in place.
Then, use your thumb to roll the ball up and down your palm. This movement really isolates your thumb.
4. Table Roll
Place the hand therapy ball on a table and place your hand on top of it.
Then, while keeping a flat hand, roll the ball from the base of your palm up to your fingertips.
5. Finger Flexion
Unlike the Power Grip exercise, you won’t be using your thumb in this hand therapy ball exercise.
Instead, hold the therapy ball in your palm and press into it using all your fingers except your thumb.
Press and release.
6. Thumb Roll
Place the therapy ball on your palm. Keep your palm as flat as you can and use your thumb to keep it in place. Then, use your thumb to roll the ball in a circle on your palm.
This hand therapy exercise also isolates your thumb.
7. Finger Squeeze
Place the therapy ball between two fingers and squeeze your fingers together. Squeeze and release. You can do this between any combinations of fingers, so be sure to exercise all your fingers!
Some fingers will be more difficult than others (like your ring and pinky finger), so be sure not to neglect them.
8. Thumb Opposition
This therapy ball exercise is similar to the Thumb Roll, but you will be rolling the ball side-to-side instead of in circles.
Start by placing the therapy ball on your palm and use your thumb to keep it in place. Then, use your thumb to move the ball from left to right.
Benefits of Hand Therapy Ball Exercises
It’s important to cater your hand therapy exercises to suit your goals.
For example, some people may need these exercises to strengthen their hands, especially those that enjoy handiwork. If that’s you, then focus on using therapy balls with more resistance so that you can build strength in your hands and fingers.
Other people might use these exercises to regain mobility in their hands, including stroke survivors.
When neurological injury is involved, the focus should not be placed solely on trying to increase resistance. Instead, the focus should be placed on repetition, which provides the brain with the stimulation it needs to rewire itself.