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Hands gripping rice

Nearly every daily activity relies on the muscles in your hands, wrists, and forearms. Think typing an email, brushing your teeth, washing the dishes. Grip strength may also be an indicator of overall wellness: A 2015 study from Ontario’s McMaster University linked weak hands with poor heart health.

Though few resistance-training programs emphasize grip strength, working these muscles can actually support your progress at the gym (you’ll be able to hold on to heavier weights, for instance) and help you avoid carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive-motion injuries. Try this simple exercise at home to improve strength, mobility, and endurance in your hands, wrists, and forearms.

1) Pour about 5 pounds of uncooked rice into a large mixing bowl. Leave enough room in the bowl so you can put both hands in the rice without spilling any over the sides.

Rice poured into a bowlIllustration by Colin Hayes
2) Set the bowl on a table, and face it in a comfortable position that allows you to reach into the bowl without straining your lower back.

Early stages of improving your gripIllustration by Colin Hayes
3) Place both hands in the rice. Grab fistfuls and squeeze, twisting at the wrists, flexing the muscles in your fingers, hands, and forearms.

How to move your hands while improving your gripIllustration by Colin Hayes
4) Continue for one to two minutes in the same direction, then switch the direction of the twist and repeat for another one to two minutes.

Illustration on how to improve your gripIllustration by Colin Hayes
5) Do this exercise once a week or as often as desired. Take care not to strain your muscles or tendons, and stop immediately if you feel any pain.

Schedule for improving your gripIllustration by Colin Hayes
Photo by: John Mowers

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