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Life Enriching Communities Blog

Hand Exercises For Arthritis {Water}

Posted by Twin Lakes on November 13, 2018

Hand exercises for arthritis blog author Katie in front of poolBy Katie Hill, Wellness Specialist at The Connection at Twin Lakes

Whether it’s a good or bad day, individuals with arthritis are often afraid to exercise because they fear that it will increase their discomfort.  

In truth exercise helps to increase joint flexibility and range of motion, and decrease stiffness and pain. 

Exercises performed in warm water have the added benefit of the water’s buoyancy to support your body which reduces impact on the joints. This support can help you perform an exercise that may be more difficult to complete on land. 

Hand Exercises: At Home In Water 

To Start: Fill a deep sink, tub or pot with 6 - 8 inches of warm water. Stand or sit so the water is at waist height or lower, and exercises may need to be done one hand at a time. Consider using Epsom salt or a few drops of peppermint, ginger or lavender oil to create a more tranquil environment.

Finger Spread


  1. Begin with palms down, fingers relaxed and straight
  2. Spread all fingers apart
  3. Hold for a few seconds
  4. Move fingers back to starting position
  5. Repeat 2 - 3 times  
  6. Repeat with right hand

Cat’s Claw

  1. Begin with palms facing each other
  2. Bend all fingers at the same time at your middle joint
  3. Hold for a few seconds
  4. Straighten fingers
  5. Repeat 2 - 3 times 

Katie’s Expert Tip: it’s not necessary for fingers to touch your palm.

Finger Curl

  1. Begin with palms facing each other
  2. Bend fingers to create a loose fist
  3. Hold for a few seconds
  4. Straighten fingers
  5. Repeat 2 - 3 times 

Katie’s Expert Tip: Make sure not to squeeze fist too tightly, keep it gentle.

Thumb Circles

  1. Begin with palms down, fingers relaxed and straight
  2. Draw circles clockwise with the tip of your thumbs
  3. Switch direction drawing circles counter clockwise

Finger O

  1. Begin with palms facing each other
  2. Touch pointer finger to your thumb making an OK sign
  3. Release back to starting position
  4. Touch middle finger to thumb making an OK sign
  5. Release fingers back to starting position
  6. Continue with all fingers making the OK sign 

Katie’s Expert Tip: Avoid pinching the pad of your finger to your thumb. Instead, gently touch the tip of your fingernail to the tip of your thumbnail each time. 

Guidelines For Exercising With Arthritis 

  1. Always check with your healthcare provider (physical therapist, physician, etc.) about which exercises are safest for you to do. 
  2. Only move your joints until you feel a gentle stretch, but not pain. 
  3. Movements should be slow, gentle and steady. Rapid movements should be avoided. 
  4. Listen to your body. When performing an exercise with a swollen and tender joint, remember to only move through a pain-free range of motion.  If pain quickly gets worse while performing an exercise, then stop. 
  5. If you experience pain for more than 2 hours after completing an exercise, then reduce the intensity or amount next time. Remember that there is a difference between soreness and pain. 
  6. Gradually increase repetitions as you do them more frequently without experiencing pain. 

Exercise can help those with arthritis to increase joint flexibility, range of motion, and decreases stiffness and pain. It can also prevent any further damage to inflamed joints and muscles, which is why it’s so important for people with arthritis to move their joints on a regular basis. 

Katie is a Wellness Specialist and certified Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program Leader/Instructor. She designs workout routines and exercises that are personalized to your wellness goals. The Twin Lakes fitness center, The Connection, offers a variety of classes and equipment specifically designed for those aged 50+. The Aquatic Center includes a 75-foot heated pool, aquatic bikes, and a whirlpool. 

Our fitness center is open to the community and memberships are available. For more information on The Connection or Twin Lakes, contact us online or give us a call at 513-247-1300.achieving whole person wellness: a guide

Topics: Senior Health and Fitness

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