I remember as a young man, my dad telling the importance of having a strong but firm handshake and I've continued that through my entire career. With that idea in mind, I never truly knew the value and importance of a good grip not only as a young man, but as we age and get into the golden years.
The importance of having a good grip for holding on and lifting things, but for simple and basic activities like opening a jar, tearing open a bag of chips or maybe holding onto a bag of mulch as you carry from the car to the flower bed. These abilities may seem nominal basic activities do you show the importance of having a strong grip at a young and older age. I was reading an article from the Journal of the American Medical Association (1999), that stated that in an older person, decreased muscle strength predisposes a person to functional limitations in activities of daily living and can cause disability. We all know that a simple minimum level of strength is needed to perform a basic task. When your strength is much higher than the minimum level, you've got a little bit more in your strength tank to do what is necessary. This reserve capacity as they call it, serves as a safety margin that presents and prevents functional limitations from developing like deconditioning, possibility for an injury or just not being able to do the activity.
In a study among healthy 45- to 68-year-old men, hand grip strength was highly predictive of functional limitations and disability 25 years later. Good muscle strength in your midlife protected people from old age disability by providing a greater safety margin above the threshold of having a disability. A very low grip strength has a greatest risk of injury which was 2 times greater. In another study, that showed the correlation of grip strength and the relationship to the prevalence of rotator cuff weakness and injury. This muscle strength has been shown to track to your entire lifespan and those with a higher grip remain stronger even at an older age. People with a greater muscle strength have been shown they have a lower risk of having future disability regardless of a chronic condition that they may develop.
So, additionally the importance of a strong grip, not only is it necessary for every sport you may participate in that exists, whether it's swimming, golf, tennis, baseball etc. All these require a high-level activity of these 35 tiny gripping muscles that are in your forearms and hand. Furthermore, even in common daily activities like tracking a mouse, washing the dishes, carrying laundry basket, using a screwdriver, turning a doorknob or even opening a simple jar of pickles. Now you know why it's so important to have a good grip. There are all kinds of exercises that are out there that can help you do that and training devices that will help you improve your grip. What I say is start training those hand grip muscles whether you're young, middle aged or a groovy granny, the stronger your grip will be, the better chance that you have not only to prevent disability but allow yourself to do the simple basic and sporting activities as you get older. So, get a grip, and start training your hand muscles. Thanks for reading, Dr. Joe