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I recently sprained my left wrist slightly. Since then, I've noticed my grip in my left hand has been significantly reduced. I'd like to regain the grip strength I had in this hand, as I used it primary to grip and open difficult things.

What exercises can I do to recover my left hand's grip strength?

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@Aarthi, perhaps you can edit the question to focus more on exercises your looking for, rather than the injury itself. Because we can't really judge whether or not your wrist is fit enough to do certain exercises, you would need to see a specialist for that –  Ivo Flipse Oct 29 '11 at 13:28
    
@IvoFlipse I edited the question. Hopefully it's more on topic. :D –  Aarthi Oct 29 '11 at 18:38
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7 Answers

I've also got problems with my left wrist and forearm (lingering on from severe tendon damage from 2 years ago). I have wrist weakness that comes and goes and it interferes with my other training.

I have done deadlifts etc (as with all the great advice given here earlier on), but there are times when the wrist is too weak or 'giving out' and doing those exercises is not an option. Or rather, I can do them but only with much lighter weights/reps than I am used to, so as not to stress the wrist, or because the wrist is too weak to support the exercise. There have been days when I have had to deadlift or bench 10-15 kg less than I am capable of, just because the wrist it too weak. Therefore, those exercises that should help strengthen my wrist can't be done -- and it can be a catch 22.

So, during those times, I have found doing isometric exercises for the wrist and forearm on the PowerPlate (or other brand of vibration plate equipment) is really great.

If you have access to such a machine (either at a gym, school or physio), try kneeling in front of it, laying your forearms across the plate bed w/ palms down, then while turned on, raise palms off the bed (forearms remaining in contact) for a few reps over 30 seconds -- dynamic exercise. Then pause for few seconds. Then for the next 30 seconds raise palms off and hold for isometric contractions.

The do same with back of hands/forearms down on the plate and flex your palms/fingers in towards wrist -- first dynamically, then isometrically.

As with all vibration plate exercises, don't be tempted to overdo it. 2 mins of work does not seem like a lot, but your muscles are getting worked to the factor of 10x's, so you will feel the DOMS later on if unused to the work and you will get good strength gains.

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Pull-ups and chin-ups are simple, hard to mess up, and good for grip strength. If you can't do one pull-up but have access to an assisted pull-up machine, use that. Or as VPeric suggests below, just hang from the bar--this will train your grip. You can make the grip harder by doing pull-ups from a towel or a towel-wrapped bar.

Deadlifts take more effort to learn, but are good for grip as well as overall strength.

Berin's answer reminded me that farmer's walks are very productive: you take a heavy weight in each hand and see how far you can walk before you have to put it down. If you walk too far, the weight should be heavier. (Doing it with just one hand is called a suitcase walk.) The next time, you try to walk further, or use a heavier weight.

A squeeze-ball would be fine to do remedial work on that hand, but I would recommend moving up to more complete exercises (e.g. pull-ups, deadlifts) as soon as possible. I would take care to restore full range of motion in the wrist as well, but that's better left to medical or physical-therapy experts.

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+1 for the pull-ups. There are questions here about improving your pull-up count (based on your current abilities). You could just try hanging from the bar. –  VPeric Oct 31 '11 at 20:33
    
Edited to assimilate your hanging-from-the-bar suggestion. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. –  Dave Liepmann Oct 31 '11 at 20:58
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A SideWinder is also a great tool for training your grip strength. @Lauren sent one to me a while ago, and it's helped a lot. It's not too heavy or big, but it's small enough to be portable. –  Matt Chan Nov 2 '11 at 14:32
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My following suggestions are additive to those mentioned already, not exclusive:

Mini-cinder (1/2 cinder block) block holds

Go to Home Depot, find a small cinder block, buy it, go home, grab it from the top (the part with the ridge in it) and hold on as long as you can. Initially, you might need to hold on with both hands at the same time, and take care not to drop it on your feet. A 12+ rock climbing buddy of mine recommended this to me and I now swear by it. The following link is a good example of what type of cinder/concrete block you should use:

Oldcastle 8 in. x 8 in. x 8 in. Concrete Block


Rock Climbing

If you live near an indoor rock climbing gym, check it out. If you can afford and have a place to put up a hanging board, go for it. The most enjoyable way I have found for increasing my grip and forearm strength is rock climbing.

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I recommend using a SportGrips SideWinder. It's a simple tool that is very solid and durable. Twist the knob at the top to adjust the resistance, hold the SideWinder in your hands, and twist the handles forwards or backwards. You can hold it out in front of you horizontally, vertically, or behind the back. Start with a light resistance and once you're comfortable with that, you can increase the resistance as necessary. The SideWinder website has a workout routine you can follow.

SportGrips SideWinder Sportster

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This is extra-goodness for anyone with tennis elbow (focus on the motion where you twist backwards); I personally prefer devices that have you wind-up a rope with a weight attached, like this dickssportinggoods.com/product/…, but the suggested device is nice alternative because of its portability. –  Merritt Apr 3 '12 at 22:44
    
More on the tennis elbow: I was getting it super-bad while bouldering and was only able to alleviate it by doing these types of exercises and focusing on the concentric motion. The problem seems to stem from the inabalance of muscle strength between the concentric and eccentric motions, and most common exercise and exertion of the forearms focus on the eccentric motions of the outer muscle group (the other side from where the big bulge forms when bending your wrist downwards when holding your arm out straight) –  Merritt Apr 3 '12 at 23:00
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Check out the answers to How to Strengthen MY Wrist? as you need a stable/strong wrist and strong wrist extensors to have a strong grip.

Then work on your grip directly with squeezing exercises: a ball, a gripper or putty. The strength in your grip comes mostly from the 4th and 5th digits, so theraputty is particularly effective as it resists each finger as you squeeze.

Full disclosure: the gripper and putty photos come from our site's amazon store. I did try to load just the image but it didn't take.

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A simple grip exercise is to grab a dumbbell or a weight plate and hold it until you can't any more. The setup is important, as you need to use a pinch grip rather than wrapping your fingers around the edges.

If you have a hex dumbbell:

20lb hex dumbbell

you would grab it by one of the weighted ends, but don't let your thumb or fingers use the lettering as a grip.

If you can hold the weight for 2 minutes straight, increase the weight. If not, keep at that weight.

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If weight training is an option for you, there are lots of exercises, for example pullups, deadlifts, and barbell rows which involve gripping a long barbell and are an appropriate challenge for your hand muscles. The advantage to this is that you train your overall strength at the same time as your grip.

If you don't like weight training, you could simply get a gripper and use it regularly to train your left hand in isolation.

Of course there are hundreds of other exercises for grip strength, but those two approaches are the ones I would recommend.

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