Monday, September 9, 2013

Part IV - Exercises to improve your quality of life

This is Part IV of this series of exercises to improve the quality of your life as Kennedy’s Disease progresses causing lifestyle changes. Consider adding at least two-or-three of these exercises and practice them daily. As always, consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Wrist, Hand and Finger Muscles

clip_image002Picking up or grasping objects becomes more difficult over time. For me, it seems like I drop a lot of things these days. And, as the muscle between the thumb and fingers weakens, you might find it more difficult to cut up meat, open a jar or pick up a glass, for example. The exercises below will help keep daily functions requiring the use of your hands easier.

  1. Wrist Curls: Works the wrist muscles. Sit with your back straight and your feet directly below your knees (90 degree angle).Holding a cane (a broom, light metal bar or light dumbbells) in both hands with your palms facing up and your forearms flat on your thighs, curl the wrists up as far as possible without raising your arms from your thighs. Perform 15-20 reps (or as many as comfortable. Repeat the exercise, but this time have your palms facing down while still curling the wrists up. To increase the difficulty, increase the weight of the object being lifted.
  2. Wring Out the Towel: Works the wrist, hand and finger muscles. Using a wash cloth or small towel, roll it into a 3-4” ball. Grasp the wash cloth in both hands and begin to wring it out using your wrist and fingers. Perform 15-20 reps (or as many as comfortable. Repeat the exercise, but this time wring the towel out in the other direction.
  3. Make a Ball: Works the hand and finger muscles. Place a wash cloth or small towel flat on a counter. Place your hand over the towel so the heel of your hand is resting on the edge of the towel. Keeping the heel of your hand on the counter at all times and using your fingers, begin to pull the towel into your wrist to form a ball. Once you have a tight ball, reverse the process by trying to flatten out the wash cloth using just your fingers while keeping the heel of the hand still on the counter. Repeat the exercise using your other hand.
  4. Finger Scissors: Works the finger muscles. Take your left hand with the palm down and fingers extended out straight. Place your index finger from your right hand in between the first two fingers. Squeeze your fingers together and hold for a count of two then relax. Perform 10-15 reps (or whatever is comfortable). Repeat the exercise using each set of fingers until you have worked all the fingers on both hands.
  5. Thumb Pull: While sitting, grab the left knee with your left hand. Hook your right index finger around your left thumb. Pull on back while gripping with your thumb and finger. Pull as hard as you can while still holding on. Continue holding as long as you can for up to one minute. Grab the right knee with your right hand. Hook the left index finger around right thumb and pull once again.
  6. Squeeze the Racket (Ball): Works the wrist, hand and finger muscles. Using a tennis racket, exercise putty, or a rubber ball (like a racquetball), squeeze and hold it for a count of five and then relax. Perform 15-20 reps (or whatever is comfortable). Repeat the exercise using your other hand.

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