Get a Good Grip on Life!
While you might think that your grip strength is only good for a firm handshake, the strength of your hands can be a predictive indicator of your overall health. As such, many chiropractors and health practitioners may use physical therapy equipment designed to test your grip among other automatic strength tests.
Higher grip strength was associated with a lower risk of all cause mortality and incidence of and mortality from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, all cancer and sub-types of cancer. One study demonstrated that every 5-kg decrease in hand grip strength was associated with a 16% higher hazard ratio for all-cause mortality and 17% higher hazard ratio for cardiovascular mortality!
The relationship between grip strength and these outcomes (all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, cardiovascular disease etc) is not based on the fact that grip strength in itself is the thing that determines these outcomes but, rather, that grip strength is a valid measure of overall neuromuscular function which is a valid indicator of overall health, susceptibility to illness, and ability to survive and recover from illness.
There is very strong evidence that chiropractic improves the ability of the sensori-motor system and thus the entire neuromuscular system. Chiropractic has been shown to improve proprioception, improve limb position sense, to improve muscle recruitment, and to improve strength. Your grip strength and range of motion are valuable indicators of your overall health.
Improved position sense is imperative and begins from infancy with the importance of prone development ie tummy time, to rolling, upper limb weight bearing with crawling, climbing, monkey bar use, and so on. This prone positioning is very important for neck range of motion and therefore upright head posture and carriage, upper body strength, breathing patterns, gut activity and more.
Now knowing the importance of this measurement, it’s imperative that people incorporate it in regular exercise routines. You can improve your grip strength by engaging in a variety of hand exercises. This can include resistance training geared to improving your overall grip strength, as simple as lifting weights or using a shovel to improve your home's garden. Bands, stress balls, lifting cans and even buckets of rice have shown to be everyday exercises you can incorporate without having to go to the gym. Kids and adults alike can enjoy the monkey bars – whether you swing bar to bar or simply hold hang.
Since grip strength tends to increase when you better your overall health, engaging in other forms of physical therapy and exercise is encouraged. In fact, just 10 minutes of exercise or other physical activity every day can help you improve your mobility, avoid disability, and live even longer. Hence the importance that this begins in infancy and needs to be sustained and maintained throughout life.
Furthermore, exercises performed, and positions held, in Pilates and Yoga also dramatically improve overall grip strength.
As mentioned, Chiropractic has been shown to improve proprioception, improve limb position sense, to improve muscle recruitment, and to improve strength. Therefore people looking to improve their grip strength should also consider seeing a Chiropractor. Another study done on Judo Athletes found that competitors who received 1-3 neck adjustments by a chiropractor noticed an improvement in grip strength than those who had sham (fake) adjustments to their neck. Grip strength was shown to improve up to 17% as a result of regular neck adjustments.
This shows that regular Chiropractic care can be vastly beneficial in improving something that we now understand as an important determinant of health. This also includes making sure that you’re not just free of symptoms, but most importantly that we’re taking preventative precautions to provide a healthier future as well.
McGrath, R.P., Kraemer, W.J., Al Snih, S. and Peterson, M.D., 2018. Handgrip strength and health in aging adults. Sports medicine, 48(9), pp.1993-2000.
Haavik, H. et al. Impact of Spinal Manipulation on Cortical Drive to Upper and Lower Limb Muscles. (2017). Brain Sciences
Leong DP, Teo KK, Rangarajan S, Lopez-Jaramillo P, Avezum A, Orlandini A, et al. Prognostic value of grip strength: findings from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study. 0Lancet. 2015;386(9990):266–73.
Peterson MD, Duchowny K, Meng Q, Wang Y, Chen X, Zhao Y. Low normalized grip strength is a biomarker for cardiometabolic disease and physical disabilities among US and Chinese adults. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017;72(11):1525–31.
Stenholm S, Tiainen K, Rantanen T, Sainio P, Heliövaara M, Impivaara O, et al. Long-term determinants of muscle strength decline: Prospective evidence from the 22-year mini-Finland follow-up survey. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012;60(1):77–85.