In the international Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study, researchers measured grip strength in nearly 140,000 adults in 17 countries. This research gave us insight into the importance of our grip strength for more than a sturdy hand shake.
Each 11-pound decrease in grip strength over the course of the study was linked to a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, a 9% higher risk of stroke, and a 7% higher risk of heart attack. Grip strength was a better predictor of death or cardiovascular disease than blood pressure.
In short, they suggest that individuals with more grip strength and muscle mass are better suited to fight chronic illness and defend against injury and disease.
How do we test grip strength?
At our clinic, we test grip strength using a device called a dynamometer. Simply squeeze and the device electronically tells us how much force you can exert. We always measure and compare both sides to look for significant differences which may be due to neurological issues or injury.
When would you measure grip strength?
baseline testing to monitor change over time
before hand, wrist, elbow or arm surgery
after hand, wrist, elbow or arm surgery
after a period of immobilization (cast or splint)
if there are nerve related issues present (weakness, numbness, pain, tingling)
potential nerve referral arising from the neck
How can you strengthen your grip?
therapeutic exercises prescribe by a physiotherapist
squeezing an exercise ball
therapy putty pinching and pulling
theraband or weighted wrist curls
corrective therapy for neck and nerve issues if present.
picking up household objects, wringing out dish towels, wrapping elastics around fingers and opening the hand.
Starting with these small exercises, injury present or not, can begin to form more healthy habits such as exercising other muscle groups, more cardio exercise, better sleep habits and proper nutrition. Its an indirect relationship, but this is one way how strengthening your grip can translate to a healthier longer life.