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How to promote manual dexterity and flexibility

by Laurence Williams
06 November 2018, at 12:00am

As surgeons we rely on the absolute well-being of our hands to ensure excellent veterinary care to our patients. After several hours of surgery, fatigue and manual discomfort are common, and over the years, repetitive strain injuries may occur.

Blue suggests some exercises that help increase the flexibility, precision and breadth of manual movements:

  • To increase the range of movement, close both hands into tight fists, hold the position for approximately 1 minute and then open and spread your fingers as much as you can. Repeat the cycle 3 to 5 times for each hand.
  • To increase the thumb’s strength, extend your hands in front of you, palms down, and, keeping your thumbs stretched to the side, close the remaining fingers. Then flex your thumbs over the other fingers until you touch the little fingers and hold the position for a few seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat the cycle 3 to 5 times for each hand.
  • To increase the dexterity of your fingers, place your hands on a flat surface with your palms facing down and lift and lower each finger sequentially, beginning with the index finger and then reversing the direction. Repeat several times a day and increase speed.
  • To increase eye-to-hand coordination, place your hands on a flat surface with your palms facing up and join the tips of your thumbs with your index fingers, forming an “O”, without raising your other fingers. Return to the starting position and repeat with the remaining fingers. Repeat the exercise several times and increase the speed sequentially.
  • To increase hand strength and the ability to hold objects for long periods of time, squeeze an anti-stress ball with your maximum strength without causing discomfort, hold the position for about 5 seconds and then relax the hold. Repeat the exercise 10 times every 3 days.

Other activities that help improve manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination include playing video games, juggling and writing on keyboards!

Laurence Williams