You have probably noticed that people with shoulder injuries have a diminished grip. (If you haven’t ,start checking) One of the things I like to regularly do in my therapy sessions (and my own training session) is to alter the grip of many exercises. When you have an upper extremity injury your brain will down regulate your grip because it wont let you grab something it doesn’t think the shoulder or elbow can handle. So by utilizing gripping (and focusing on contracting all the muscles of the arm during an exercise) you can improve the grip strength that is diminished and when you grip hard it actually enhances neural flow through the upper extremity via the irradiation effect. Also by gripping you stimulate activity in the rotator cuff. Therefore you can use gripping early on to enhance activation to this area. Grip strength is said to be an indicator of overall arm strength.
Some things I like to do is use a towel to vary the grip for cable pull (wrap towel around handle for thick grip. put towel through handle and roll ends 1-2 times for finger curl grip and put towel through handle and hold both ends for hand shake gip). Utilize a pre made gripper like the Grip Force (2 rubber pieces that fir on most bars that make the grip “fatter” and require you to grip to hold them on). I actually have the Grip Force and utilize these and a simple towel for most things. Also, just simply have the patient focus on squeezing harder while doing the exercise works great and costs you nothing! This can be applied to any exercise for any body part and can go a long way to enhancing overall strength and activation for rehab and strength training. The irradiation effect is a favorite of eastern block countries.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

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