Whenever I open my door to a new customer*, I always like to shake their hand as an introduction. Whilst I am not one to base my initial opinion on the handshake, it is always notable when you come across a bone-crusher. Is it led by ego, or is there more to it?
Have you ever had to put down heavy shopping when carrying it to the car from the shop – and not because you lacked the strength to carry it, but simply because you couldn’t maintain your grip? How many day to day activities (DIY, opening doors, opening jars) benefit from a strong grip?
Activities such as CrossFit, Powerlifting, Weightlifting, even Obstacle Course Racing, would all arguably benefit from grip strength training – but would all of us benefit, regardless of our chosen activity?
In the health and fitness world, grip strength is vital, and loss of grip strength can be scary; I’ve seen many a person in clinic not so much in pain, as feeling fragile because they no longer feel safe holding a cup of tea, or a kettle.
Grip strength is also known to be a reliable test for risk assessment for various health issues such as cardiovascular disease and other causes of mortality – “Grip strength was a stronger predictor of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality than systolic blood pressure.” (1).
But the main reason grip strength is tested here is due to its strong association with shoulder strength, and so – often – shoulder injury – “We have shown for the first time that propriospinal pathways may connect the hand to the rotator cuff of the shoulder. The modulation of facilitation/suppression during the grip-lift task suggests that inhibition of propriospinal premotoneurons is down-regulated in a task-dependent manner to increase the gain in the feedback reflex loop from forearm and hand muscles as required.” (2)
Several factors influence grip strength: age, sex, hand size and grip span, posture, and position of the shoulder, forearm, and wrist.
Using equipment such as wrist straps may allow you to improve your lifting capacity, but are we masking a potential lack of grip strength?
To discuss a grip strengthening programme, please contact Dan@DC-InjuryClinic.co.uk
*HATE this word
N.B. There are no ‘one size fits all’ style quick fixes in most injury scenarios, so these article shouldn’t be seen as such. They are merely guides to a better understanding of how our bodies work.