fingertips and thumb, “walk” your fingertips toward you to pull the towel up into the palm of your hand.
“Get as much towel into your fist as you can and gently squeeze,” says Pena.
This exercise is great because it will give you a general idea of how much RA is affecting your grip and exactly how strong your grip is, according to Pena.
After repeating this exercise a few times, switch to your other hand.
4. Increase Your Dexterity With Finger Pinches
Pinching your thumb to the tip of each of your fingers one at a time will help you complete everyday tasks, such as tying your shoelaces or buttoning up your shirt easier if you have RA. Start by firmly pressing your thumb against a finger, pressing it firmly like a pinch. Hold for a second or two and release. Continue this with each finger individually.
5. Keep Your Thumb Nimble With a Simple Stretch
Your thumb is arguably the most vital finger on your hand because it controls so many different hand motions.
Begin with your thumb pointing outward, away from your palm. Then move your thumb across your palm to try to touch the base of your little finger. If you are trying to grip circular objects, such as hairbrushes, this exercise will be extremely helpful.
6. Maintain Flexibility by Spreading Your Fingers
Spread your fingers and thumb as wide apart as possible, slowly and gently, holding for several seconds. This exercise will reduce stiffness and strengthen the muscles around the joints in your hand.
While these exercises are great at reducing the pain and stiffness often caused by RA, it is important to do so in moderation just like you would with any other exercise. Taking a break is just as important. Remember to listen to your body. Pena suggests taking a break from exercising when you are experiencing flares or worsening of your symptoms to avoid damage to your joints. You can also invest in a supportive brace or splint.
“If you aren’t mindful about doing — or are unable to do — flexibility and range-of-motion exercises, you can get this extreme tightness. Wearing a splint or brace when resting at night can help maintain the joints in a neutral position,” says Mary Ann Wilmarth, a doctor of physical therapy who is a health and patient advocate and CEO of Back2Back Wellness in Massachusetts, and a psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis patient.
If these exercises do not help, or you are experiencing more pain, consult with your doctor.