From Arthritis to Post-Op Therapy: Why You Could Benefit from Theraputty Exercises
We tend to take the full range of motion for granted. We can stretch, reach, bend, grab, grasp, and relax our bodies fully, with ease and without pain. While some days may be more difficult than others, especially if we did a lot which we are not used to doing, the flexibility we have is one of our greatest gifts.
Sometimes, however, we struggle. Arthritis can limit our movement or cause pain when we move. After surgery, especially in our hands and arms, we may struggle to do what we used to do without thinking.
One method of increasing our mobility and limberness is theraputty. Theraputty can help with arthritis, regaining flexibility after surgery, and other situations.
Theraputty is made from silicone. It is, like all putties, flexible and bendable, and it is color-coded for various levels of resistance.
Theraputty is used in a wide range of situations. It is used to develop hand functions, including grip, dexterity, and strength. It helps establish or re-establish fine motor skills. It provides benefits to the fingers, hand, and forearm.
Red theraputty is “soft.” It provides a moderate level of resistance. Green theraputty is “medium,” while blue theraputty is “firm.” These are the most common levels of resistance for most purposes. Theraputty is inexpensive, which means that if the first color is not the right level, it will be easy to replace it.
A range of exercises is possible with theraputty. As with any exercise, you should apply a certain number of sets and repetitions. The possible exercises include the following:
- Full grip – Hold the putty in your palm and squeeze—roll the putty around.
- Fingers only – Place the putty at the base of your fingers but squeeze with fingers only.
- Finger pinch – Make a ball of the putty and squeeze between each pair of fingers, one after the other.
- Finger spread – Make a pancake of the putty, place on the table, and then press down and spread the putty.
- Thumb press – With the putty in your palm, press your thumb into it until it touches your palm.
- Wrist rotation – Grip the putty tightly and rotate the wrist, alternating directions—press into the putty with as much force as possible.
One great advantage of theraputty is its portability. It comes in a small container which can slip into your pocket, allowing you to use it in any setting. Be careful with theraputty around fabrics—it can require WD-40 or isopropyl alcohol to remove Theraputty from fabrics.
Theraputty provides significant benefits after hand and finger surgery, including carpal tunnel syndrome. Follow the advice from your doctor and physical therapist for when you can begin theraputty exercises.
After carpal tunnel syndrome surgery, for example, light theraputty exercises can begin four to six weeks after surgery. Recommended activities at this point may include three-point and lateral pinch exercises with the putty. After a palmar fasciotomy, therapists recommend six to twelve weeks with putty. Theraputty may be recommended at eight to twelve weeks for distal radial fracture. After thumb release surgery; however, you may be able to begin theraputty exercises within days after the surgery.
Exercise is crucial for arthritis suffers. It helps preserve strength and flexibility and can reduce the pain and discomfort from the ailment. While you should probably refrain from exercise during a flare-up, a regular program of exercise can include a variety of theraputty exercises for arthritis, including the following.
- Finger extension – Loop the putty around a bent finger, and straighten it while holding the rest in the other hand. Repeat for all fingers.
- Finger scissor – Lace a 1” piece of putty between each pair of fingers and squeeze together.
- Three-point pinch – Hold the putty in one hand and pull it with the thumb, index, and middle finger of the other hand.
Stroke patients can also benefit from theraputty exercises. Be guided by your health care providers, but several repetitions of a repertoire of three to five exercises can help stroke patients begin their therapy.
- Full grip – The full grip, thumb press, and finger extension exercises are excellent for stroke patients.
- Hook fist – Have your loved one make a hook out of the fingers, and then squeeze the putty with the fingers only. This exercise will help with their ability to carry things.
- Finger dig – With the putty in their palm, your loved one should dig their fingers into the putty. Reroll the putty and repeat—this exercise works on their grip.
Theraputty provides significant benefits for a variety of people with temporary or chronic mobility limitations. You will have to find the right level of resistance, but the standardized color-coding system will help. Whether you use red, green, or blue theraputty, you should find your recovery helped by it—and you might even find ways to have fun with it.
- Becky McDowell