Finger and Hand Exercises You Can Do with Digi-Flex

A Digi-Flex is a small, handheld device designed to effectively strengthen your fingers and hand. The device can be used for whole-hand gripping exercises or for individual finger exercises. A small rubber pad on one side of the device helps prevent discomfort during gripping exercises.

If you have suffered a hand or finger injury, you may benefit from physical therapy to help improve your range of motion and strength in order to regain full function in your hand. Strengthening exercises may be a key component of your rehabilitation program, and your physical therapist will likely have many different tools at her disposal to help you achieve full strength in your hand or fingers. One of these tools may be a Digi-Flex.

Digi-Flex comes in 5 different grip strengths. Each color gripper represents a different amount of resistance. You can purchase a Digi-Flex online or at your local sporting goods store. They typically cost about $20-$25 (US).

Conditions that May Benefit from Digi-Flex Use

A Digi-Flex may be used with any condition that causes finger or hand weakness. Your physical therapist or occupational therapist will determine if using a Digi-Flex is right for you. Some common injuries and conditions that may benefit from handgrip strengthening with DigiFlex include, but are not limited to:

If you are suffering from hand weakness and your physical therapist feels that using a Digi-Flex may be of benefit, you can try these exercises. You must speak with your doctor or physical therapist before performing these exercises to ensure that they are safe for your specific condition.

Before starting any exercise program for hand grip strength, your PT may get a baseline measurement of your grip power. This is done with a simple test using a handgrip dynamometer. Your just give it a squeeze, and it displays a readout of how much force you generated. By having a baseline of your strength, you can see how you improve over time with your Digi-Flex exercise program.

1
Lateral Key Grip

Use Digi-Flex to improve your lateral grip.
The lateral key grip with Digi-Flex. Brett Sears, PT, 2014

The lateral key grip involves using your thumb and side of your index finger to pinch something as if you were holding a key. Weakness in your thumb muscles may make performing the lateral key grip difficult.

To use the Digi-Flex to strengthen your lateral key grip, hold the device with the black rubber grip against your finger and the individual finger key under your thumb.

Press down gently with your thumb as if you were trying to hold a key. Hold this position for 3 seconds, and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise 10-15 repetitions. Be sure to stop if you feel any lasting pain.

2
Pistol Trigger Grip

Use a Digi-Flex to treat trigger finger.
The pistol trigger grip with a Digi-Flex. Brett Sears, PT, 2014

If you have a trigger finger and are experiencing weakness in one of your finger flexor tendons, then the pistol grip is the exercise for you to do.

Grip your Digi-Flex as if you were holding a firearm, and slowly pinch the individual finger flexor button as if you were pulling the trigger.  Hold this position for 3 seconds, and repeat 10-15 times. Remember to stop if this motion causes pain or causes your finger to lock into flexion (a common symptom of trigger finger). You can perform this maneuver for any of your fingers.

3
Digit Claw Grip

The claw grip with a Digi-Flex.
The claw grip exercise with a Digi-Flex. Brett Sears, PT, 2014

 The claw grip involves gripping your Digi-Flex with your fingertips.  To perform this exercise, hold the Digi-Flex in your palm and place the tips of your fingers on the individual buttons. Press your fingertips into the Digi-Flex to compress it, and hold this position for 3 seconds.  Slowly release and repeat the exercise 10-15 repetitions.

4
Individual Finger Flexion

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Brett Sears, PT, 2014

If you are experiencing weakness or an injury in one tendon, you can perform single finger flexion with your Digi-Flex. Simply hold the device with the rubber pad in your palm and use one finger to grip the Digi-Flex. hold this position for 3 seconds, and perform 10-15 repetitions.

5
Power Grip

The power grip.
The power grip is essential for carrying heavy items. Brett Sears, PT, 2014

The power grip is a great exercise to improve the grip strength of your entire hand. This exercise is important for grasping items such as suitcases or grocery bags.

To perform this exercise, grip your Digi-Flex in your hand with the rubber end in your palm. Use all of your fingers and palm to make a fist. Hold this position for 3 seconds, and slowly return to the starting position. Perform the power grip for 10-15 repetitions.

6
Digit Flexion with All Finger Pads

Digit flexion with your finger pads.
Use the Digi-Flex to improve grip with your fingers. Brett Sears, PT, 2014

You can used the Digi-Flex to work specific muscles and tendons responsible for gripping by changing the position of your fingers on the device.

To perform digit flexion with the pads, place the soft, squishy pads of your fingers on the individual digit keys and squeeze. Hold this position for 3 seconds and repeat the exercise 10-15 times. 

A Word from Verywell

If you have difficulty with hand strength due to an injury or illness, you may find that performing simple tasks is troublesome. Don't worry; your PT can help you get things working again with various treatments and exercise tools.

The Digi-Flex can be a great tool to improve the strength and function of your fingers, thumb, and hand.  By improving your hand strength after injury or illness, you can be sure to quickly and safely return to your previous level of function. 

Source: Bohannon, R. Muscle strength: clinical and prognostic value of hand-grip dynamometry. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 2015. 18(5): 465-470.

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