Hold On Tight! 3 Grip Building Exercises: Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (EC) Stretching and Strengthening
The EC muscles are the three large extensor carpi ulnaris muscles located along the back of your forearm. They extend from the wrist to just above your elbow joint. These muscles have been called “the biceps” because they form part of the upper arm’s bicep muscle group.
EC stretching exercises can improve the range of motion of the EC muscles and increase their flexibility. This will enable you to perform more complex tasks with less strain on your hands.
In addition, EC stretching exercises strengthen the tendons that attach to your fingers and wrists which may reduce pain when using a computer keyboard or typing on a laptop. EC strengthening exercises can prevent future injury and will prepare your wrist to perform better when gripping.
Flexor Carpi Ulnaris (FCU) Stretching And Strengthening
The FCU muscle is located along the bottom of your forearm. It acts in opposition to the EC muscles, bending your wrist and fingers towards the palm of your hand. The FCU primarily stretches when your hand is facing downwards, such as gripping the handlebars of a bicycle.
The finger flexors are susceptible to the same types of pain and injury as the EC muscles and can benefit from the same stretching and strengthening exercises.
Strengthening Your Extensors
EC and FCU strengthening exercises are designed to improve your muscle tone by performing specific exercises that will increase blood flow and flexibility in these muscles.
The extensor carpi ulnaris exercises we will be discussing are simple to perform and only require your body weight. Before you begin any exercise program it’s always a good idea to consult your physician.
Strengthening The EC Muscles:
EC exercises are designed to strengthen the tendons that extend from the base of your fingers to your wrist. The EC muscles often become tight and in some cases can cause pain near the base of the fingers.
These stretching exercises will not only improve your overall grip and hand strength but they will also decrease the pain you feel when gripping objects or pinching your fingers together.
The EC can be stretched or elongated by hooking the thumb out and away from the palm of your hand. You should try to stretch it as far as you can without causing any sharp pains.
Hold this position for fifteen to twenty seconds and then relax. Repeat this stretch three times for best results.
Strengthening The FCU Muscles:
The finger flexors can be strengthened by performing the opposite action of the EC muscles, that is, bringing your wrist and fingers towards the center of your body. Try to make a fist and then slowly extend your fingers out as far as you can without causing sharp pain.
Hold for fifteen to twenty seconds and then relax. Repeat this process three times for best results.
Strengthening The EC And FCU Muscles:
Combining both the EC and the finger flexor strengthening activities will place greater demands on these muscles and help them to develop more tone and strength.
Extend your right arm out in front of you with your palm facing upwards. Using your right hand only, try to touch your right shoulder by bending your wrist and bringing it up towards you as far as it will go.
Relax and repeat this exercise a total of three times with each wrist and then perform the same exercise with your left arm.
These simple exercises can help keep your wrists and fingers flexible and strong so that you will be able to enjoy these computer activities for many years to come!
Strengthening The Wrist Extensors Exercises
The extensor muscles are located on the top of your forearm and are primarily used to straighten your wrist. These muscles can sometimes become weak if you overuse or neglect them which can cause an imbalance in your arm. Weak extensors make it difficult to hold items with your fingers such as a pencil for any length of time.
Keeping these muscles strong can help eliminate or reduce any wrist pain you may experience while performing repetitive tasks.
Wrist extension exercises are fairly easy to perform and can be done just about anywhere. Some of the best exercises for strengthening the extensors include:
Holding a glass of water in your outstretched hand for as long as you can.
Cutting thin slices of vegetables with a knife and holding out for as long as you can before lowering the knife.
Holding a book out at arm’s length for as long as you can.
Using your thumb and fingers to pick up large pills or small stones and holding out for as long as you can before lowering your hand.
Strengthening The Hand Muscles Exercises
Flexor and extension exercises are a good way to strengthen and tone the muscles located in your hand. The flexors are primarily located in the palm of your hand and help bend your fingers while the extensors are located in the back of your hand and help straighten your fingers. Both muscle groups work together to give you a firm grip and strong hold on any object you choose.
Your hands are used for just about everything you do each day, which makes them prone to wear and tear. But, it’s important to remember that keeping your hand and finger muscles in good condition can help prevent any unnecessary pain and discomfort that can be caused by repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Toning and strengthening exercises can be performed using everyday items found around the house. Some of the best exercises for your hands include:
Carrying lightweight objects such as plastic water bottles with both hands.
Closing and latching shut windows and doors around your home. Simple exercises that tone and strengthen the muscles in your hands can help eliminate or at least reduce any future pain you may experience in these sensitive areas.
Some good hand muscle exercises include:
Holding a coin, spoon or other flat object between your fingers for as long as you can.
Closing a hand strengthening grip device (can be purchased at most sporting goods stores).
Doing “knife cuts”
Tugging on a rope or pulling a wagon.
Opening and closing a peanut butter jar using just your hands.
Holding ice cubes in your hand and then transferring them into a cup one at a time.
As most of us spend the majority of our day sitting in front of a computer, it’s important to remember that we still need to take frequent breaks to help prevent any future pain and discomfort from occurring.
If you experience any tingling, numbness or cramping while performing any of these exercises, discontinue the activity and give your hands a rest. If the pain persists for more than a couple days or starts to interfere with your daily life, you may want to consult your doctor as you may be experiencing something more serious such as carpal tunnel syndrome or another type of medical condition. Taking short breaks every half hour or so can help keep the muscles in our arms, shoulder and neck from becoming fatigued.
It’s also a good idea to change positions every once in awhile; simply standing up and rotating your upper body in a circle a few times can help get the blood flowing back into your arms and hands which can help prevent muscle strain and spasms.
It’s always a good idea to wear cotton gloves at night to help keep your hands warm and protect them while you sleep. Also, be sure to apply some thick moisturizing cream or hand crème on your hands and rubbing it in thoroughly before you retire for the night.
Taking proper care of your hands and keeping them in tip-top shape can ensure you’ll be able to enjoy all the activities you love for many years to come!
Following these simple tips can go a long way in helping to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome as well as other types of medical conditions that can be caused by repetitive motion injuries.
It’s also extremely important to take care of the tools of your trade. If you’re a carpenter, make sure you have the right size tools that fit you properly. If you’re a hairdresser, be sure to use the right size combs, brushes and other instruments when working with your clients.
The wrong instruments can cause unnecessary strain on your body and lead to injury.
In any job that requires you to perform repetitive tasks on a daily basis, it’s always best to take breaks and exercise your hands on a regular basis to keep them nimble and limber. If you’re a chef, make sure your cutting board is the right thickness and easily cleaned as well as all of your knives. If you’re a writer, make sure you have a comfortable chair, proper lighting, and the tools and supplies you need within easy reach.
These steps combined with the other helpful tips mentioned in this guide, can help to ensure your hands will enjoy many more years of healthy productive work for you!
Getting a good nights sleep is also extremely important not only for your overall health but for your hands as well. As we get older, our bodies require more rest in order to stay healthy and this includes the muscles and tendons in our hands. Make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night and try your best to go to bed at the same time every night.
You’ll feel much more refreshed and you’ll notice a difference in your hands as well.
Elbow sleeves are extremely helpful in preventing and relieving some of the pain that comes with repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and other conditions. The reason elbow sleeves are so helpful is because they provide compression to the muscles in your forearms which can help prevent a lot of swelling and pain. They’re extremely light weight and can even be worn under your shirt so nobody can even tell that you’re wearing them at all.
When shopping for elbow sleeves, make sure you measure the circumference of your forearms right below your elbows around the largest part of your arm. This is usually around the halfway point. Most elbow sleeves will come in quarter sizes such as small, medium and large.
It’s best to get a size slightly smaller than your measurement since you want the sleeve to fit tightly around your arm in order to get the most effectiveness out of it.
If you have carpal tunnel syndrome or any other repetitive motion injury for that matter, it’s a very good idea to start using an eye-cup. Eye-cups come in a wide range of prices and styles so you’re sure to find one that fits your individual needs and budget. Eye-cups work by gently applying pressure on the swollen areas around your eyes which in turn helps to reduce the swelling as well as relieve the pain that comes with it.
Using an eye-cup every day can help you avoid having to wear a brace or have surgery which are both far more expensive procedures.
Sources & references used in this article:
Grip strength and endurance: Influences of anthropometric variation, hand dominance, and gender by CW Nicolay, AL Walker – International journal of industrial ergonomics, 2005 – Elsevier
Chimpanzee and human grips: a new classification with a focus on evolutionary morphology by MW Marzke, KL Wullstein – International Journal of Primatology, 1996 – Springer
Grip sleeve for exercise bar by MN Fishman, D Thompson – US Patent App. 12/435,089, 2009 – Google Patents
Gripping apparatus for an exercise bar by MN Fishman – US Patent App. 12/435,202, 2009 – Google Patents
Sleeve Grip Applications by W Warriner – US Patent App. 15/440,256, 2018 – Google Patents
Hand held body engaging exercise device by RT Kaiser – US Patent 4,565,367, 1986 – Google Patents