Most of us do as we get older. That jar lid that was easy to twist off in your 20s and 30s may cause you to grimace and groan in your 50s and 60s.

Hand strength is crucial to daily life. Whether you’re turning on the faucet or holding a fork, the actions require a firm and steady grip.

A loss of grip strength may lead to the loss of independence and your ability to live on your own.

Why do we lose our grip as we age?

The muscles in your hand determine the effectiveness of your grip. As we age, our muscle strength naturally declines.

But like all age-related muscle loss, you can reverse this situation with weight-training and exercise.

In addition to age-related muscle loss, joint pain, Dupuytren’s Contracture, and scar tissue caused by hand injuries can cause a weakened grip.

How can you get a good grip?

The answer is simple but requires effort. Add hand exercises to your daily workout.

Think about the parts of your hands that you need to grasp a steering wheel, a doorknob, or the cap of a jelly jar. You need strong and flexible fingers, thumbs, and wrists.

So, let’s look at some of the exercises that you can add to your day to strengthen your grip.

But before we review the exercises, there is a note of caution. If you suffer from rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, talk to your orthopedic specialist or physical therapist before adding these exercises to your program. You want to make sure these exercises will not cause joint damage.

Wrist Exercises – The wrist uses 35 muscles to move the hand back and forth, side to side, and around and around. Start slow and warm up your muscles. Don’t try to do too much, too fast. Start with easy exercises.

Wrist stretches. Grasp the fingers of the opposite hand and gently pull down. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Stretch the other side. Repeat five times on each hand.

Palms up, palms down. Hold your hands out straight, palms facing down with your elbows tight to your side. Then without moving your forearms, twist your palms up toward the ceiling.

Wring your hands. Grasp a towel or washcloth and twist it like you are wringing water out of it. This exercise is good to do while washing dishes. The warm water helps increase flexibility.

Bake bread. As it turns out, kneading bread is a great workout for your hands and wrists. The action of pushing and pulling the dough is a tasty way to exercise.

Thumb and Finger Exercises – Your fingers and thumbs help you grasp and hold objects. Keeping them strong and supple gives you a firm grip.

Fists to Jazz Hands. Slowly create a fist and then snap the hands open with fingers spread apart into a “jazz hand” position.

Squeeze a stress ball. Squeeze the ball as hard as you can for five seconds and release. Repeat three times on each hand.

Thumb Exercises. Look at the palm of your hand with your thumb to the side. Then move your thumb across your hand to the base of your little finger and return the starting position. Repeat 8this movement five times on each hand.

When it comes to wrist and hand exercises, more is not better. Because of its complex structure, too much exercise stresses the muscles and soft connective tissues in your hands. Complete hand exercises every other day to avoid overuse injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other conditions related to stress or strained ligaments.

If you experience pain in your hands, stop the activity. If pain persists, contact Bone & Joint’s orthopedic hand surgeons or certified hand therapist. Treating hand injuries as soon as possible is key to supporting movement and function for life.