Looking for hand exercises for spinal cord injury recovery? Your search ends here!
We’ve put together a list of 23 practical hand exercises that will help you improve hand function after spinal cord injury.
These exercises are not what you’d typically think of as exercise.
They consist of a lot of everyday actions that make it more plausible for you to develop hand and wrist movements.
Let’s get started!
Artsy Hand Exercises for Spinal Cord Injury
1. Sculpting clay/ Play-Doh
Sculpting is the most dynamic hand exercises for spinal cord injury because it lets you use all 6 of the movements.
You can push and stretch the clay however you want to mold it.
The tougher the clay, the more resistance and strength you can develop.
2. Painting nails/ painting in general
This one might be a stretch because even people without paralysis have difficulty painting their nails. It requires an extremely steady hand.
In general, painting is a great hand exercise for spinal cord injury recovery because of the dynamic movements you make.
You practice fluidity with long, whimsical strokes and can get lots of repetition through short strokes.
Find a picture of something you admire and practice tracing the figure.
This helps build precision and because it requires a lot of focus, help build that body to mind connection.
4. Playing music on a piano
This uses the same concepts as typing on a computer keyboard.
However, if you’re more musically inclined, this may be more enjoyable.
Braiding, whether it be with hair or several pieces of string, is an intricate process that requires a lot of control over your fingers.
The repetitive motions of folding each strand over while holding others in place help build endurance.
6. Stringing beads
Make yourself some beautiful jewelry by stringing beads!
Start with beads with larger holes and then move on to ones with smaller holes to help you develop precision.
7. Using scissors
Cutting out different shapes with scissors will help you develop both your hands and wrists.
The more complex the shape, the more rotations you’ll get out of your wrist.
Hand Exercise Games for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery
MusicGlove will make you forget that you’re even exercising your hands.
It helps you develop finger dexterity by engaging in a musical game.
There are lots of songs to choose from so it doesn’t get boring and so you can play at any level of recovery.
Jenga is great for developing hand muscles because not only do you need to carefully pry your block out, but you also have to carefully balance it on top of the stack.
10. Popping bubbles
Popping bubbles adds an element of speed because you need to pop them before they hit another surface.
Playing with a yoyo can help develop wrist flexibility.
12. Cat’s cradle
Did you play this game as a kid? It requires you to move your hands and wrists in all sort of different positions which helps you develop range.
Hand Exercises Using Daily Tasks
13. Pouring water from one cup to another
The weight of the water will help add some resistance while you practice twisting your wrist.
14. Turning door knobs
Turning doorknobs is a great way to practice twisting your wrist.
To bring the focus more on your fingers, turn the lock instead of the doorknob.
15. Flipping light switches
Try flipping a light switch on and off with each finger.
This will help develop motor control in all your fingers.
16. Sorting Skittles/M&Ms by color
Now you have an excuse to buy your favorite candy!
Separating them one by one will help you practice bending your wrist and putting your fingers together.
17. Wringing out a wet towel
Wringing out a towel actually requires a lot of strength.
If this is too difficult, try squeezing a wet sponge dry with one hand.
18. Typing sentences on a keyboard
This is a great way to put all your fingers to use while developing dexterity and speed.
19. Using utensils
You’ve got to eat to live, so developing this hand activity should be a top priority.
It teaches you how to grip the utensil in your hand and practice wrist movements.
20. Popping bubble wrap
Popping bubble wrap can be addictive, but now you have a reason to do it!
The squeezing motion needed to pop the bubbles add resistance, which will help you build strength in your fingers.
21. Screwing and unscrewing jars
Screwing and unscrewing a jar is a great way to practice holding a grip and repeating twisting motions.
22. Turning pages of a book
Turning the pages of a book helps you practice gripping onto thinner objects.
23. Hole punching
The last time you used a hole puncher was probably when you were in grade school right?
They’re great tools to develop the muscles in your hands because it requires clenching motions.
You can even adjust the difficulty by adding more paper.
Why These Hand Exercises Work
All these everyday tasks are great hand exercises for spinal cord injury recovery because they help you repeat motions without dying of boredom.
You see the practicality of developing your hands by practicing these actions, which makes you more aware and willing to repeat them.
Exercise is most effective when you don’t think of it as a chore.
Refer to our article on Hand Therapy Exercises for stretches, therapy ball exercises, and putty exercises that will also help you build hand strength and dexterity after spinal cord injury.