Squeeze the Day! How Strong Hands Might Mean More Candles on Your Birthday Cake
The significance of hand strength in our daily lives, particularly as a predictor of longevity, has been gaining attention in recent scientific research. A recent Washington Post article illuminates several studies that correlate hand strength to overall health and slower aging. While most of us don't consider the everyday activities that engage our hands, studies are now revealing that strengthening exercises are foundational to health. And guess what? Those annoying stockings you’re putting on every morning to help you manage conditions like lymphedema, lipedema, or diabetes are building up hand strength that can enhance your overall health and lifespan.
The Daily Benefits of Compression Garments
Wearing compression garments is more than just a medical necessity for many; it's a daily exercise in building hand strength. The act of putting on these garments, often perceived as a mundane chore, actually serves as a mini workout for the hands and wrists. I recently sprained my wrist and got was blindsided by an immediate loss of any hand strength at all. I couldn’t hold an empty coffee cup, let alone put on my high compression stocking. This wrist injury starkly highlighted the significant hand strength I had developed over the years through this routine. Once my wrist healed, my hand strength came back quickly and I was back to putting my 49/70 mm HG high compression garments on again!
Hand Strength: A Biomarker of Aging
A 2019 study published by Richard W Bohannon, Department of Physical Therapy, Campbell University, provides comprehensive evidence that grip strength is a consistent predictor of various health outcomes, including all-cause and disease-specific mortality, and future functional status. It stresses the importance of grip strength as a stand-alone measurement for identifying older adults at risk of poor health.
What is Grip Strength?
Grip strength is how strong your hand and arm muscles are. Doctors are learning that it's really important to know how strong your grip is because it can tell a lot about your health. It's like a clue that shows how healthy your muscles are and if you might have health problems now or in the future. As a measure of body function, it reflects general strength and upper limb function, and is notably correlated with various health parameters.
What the Study Says
Research has established a strong relationship between grip strength and various health aspects, including bone mineral density, risk of fractures and falls, nutritional status, and conditions like diabetes and multimorbidity. Moreover, grip strength is closely associated with cognitive function, depression, sleep quality, and overall quality of life in different patient groups. Importantly, grip strength has been identified as a predictor of future health outcomes, particularly highlighting its role in forecasting all-cause mortality and specific diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases. The evidence suggests lower grip strength is associated with a higher risk of hospitalization and post-operative complications.
Why Grip Strength Matters
Scientists have found that your grip strength is connected to many health things. For example, it can show if your bones are strong or if you might break a bone easily. It can also tell if you're eating enough healthy food, or if you have problems like diabetes. Grip strength is even linked to how well your brain works, how you feel, and how well you sleep. Plus, knowing how strong your grip is can help guess if you might get really sick or have heart problems. If your grip isn't very strong, you might need more help after a surgery.
In another study, the Cleveland Clinic looks at "How Weak Grip Strength Plays a Role in Aging" sheds light on how weak grip strength may indicate faster aging and an increased risk of chronic diseases, as well as a shorter life expectancy. Dr. Ardeshir Hashmi from the Cleveland Clinic emphasizes the need for exercises like squeezing a racquetball to maintain grip strength, especially starting before age 50.
Footwear Considerations for Swollen Feet
For individuals with conditions such as diabetes or lymphedema, wearing compression garments is essential to vitality and longer health. Wearing these garments are helping in multiple ways. Not only does compression keep swelling under control, but donning the garments themselves provide a mini daily workout for hand strength. This in turn, minimizes foot swelling which can open up more shoe options that fit comfortably.
Shoes for swollen diabetic feet, extra wide shoes for swollen feet, and shoes specifically designed for lymphedema patients play a crucial role in comfort and disease management. These specialized footwear options help in managing swelling and provide necessary support, contributing significantly to the wearer's quality of life.
The Challenge of Compliance
Despite the benefits, many face challenges in consistently wearing compression garments and suitable footwear. Motivation can be a significant hurdle due to the difficulty in wearing these items, skepticism about their effectiveness, and the cost involved. For those suffering from edema-related conditions, understanding the added benefits, like building hand strength and thereby potentially increasing longevity, can be a strong motivator.
The Wrap Up: Regular Practices Can Enhance Lifespan And Quality
The practice of wearing compression garments and choosing the right footwear, such as shoes for people with lymphedema or shoes for swollen diabetic feet, is more than just a response to immediate health needs. These routines contribute to building hand strength, a subtle yet significant factor in our overall health and longevity. As we continue to uncover the intricate connections between our daily activities and long-term health outcomes, let's appreciate these small yet impactful routines in our lives.