Have you ever injured your forearm or hand?
It’s an incredibly limiting injury because it’s hard to do anything without first holding onto it.
If you injure your knee or your shoulder, you can often make adjustments to your sport or training. For example, often knee pain is an issue during squatting, but less so during deadlifts. A shoulder injury often limits ability to press, but pulling motions are minimally affected. With modifications, most people are able to continue training other areas effectively.
Then there’s an injury to your forearm/wrist/hand – when you can hardly lift or hold anything. No gripping a barbell, no swinging a golf club, no picking up your morning cup of coffee…It’s just awful.
So…clearly grip strength and hand/forearm function are important, but just how important? Look at these facts about grip strength. Not only is it important to daily function, but is an overall indicator of our overall health.
- Grip strength can predict longevity – several studies correlate decreased grip strength and higher all-cause mortality
- Grip strength correlates with many different diseases processes – diabetes and cardiovascular function among them
- Grip strength is connected with quality of life
- Grip strength is tied to shoulder function – if you’ve ever come to Mobility Fit for a hand injury you likely ended up training the shoulder as well (that’s why!)
- Grip offers insight into our neural drive – this is the fancy way of saying that grip is uniquely tied to function of our nervous system as a whole (we could write an entire article on this fact itself!)
What does that all mean and how should it affect my training?
Overall, you get a significant amount of grip strengthening through most workouts – especially those who participate in functional training such as Crossfit. To take it up a notch, your accessory work should focus on both grip strength and upper back, as well as rotator cuff strength. Pulling motions and rotational movements of the shoulder can provide a good foundation for the rest of your arm to work from. Grip strengthening should be accomplished by using a variety of grips and holds, to shift tension across to the many muscles involved in grip. You should also include training for endurance of grip muscles. The muscles of the lower half of your arm are smaller and typically more suited for improving their endurance/efficiency over increasing size. They also have to be able to recover quickly because they are active in such a wide variety of activities and exercises. Gaining a crushing grip will go a long way to improve performance as well. Just think about it – no more grip giving out during deadlifts and no more pain or difficulty when catching the bar during olympic lifts.
Now that you know the importance of strength from the elbow down – get to work! If you have an injury (old or new) getting between you and all the benefits of a barbell-crushing grip, give us a call. We have all the tools necessary to get you training pain-free again.