Arm and hand exercises. Ideas?

I had a stroke 3 months ago.  Because of the coronavirus outbreak I have had all my rehab services withdrawn. My walking is not too bad with a zimmer and I trundle up and down the kitchen with my hubby behind with the wheel chair in case I need to sit. However my right arm and hand are still at the stage when I left hospital 5 weeks ago. I can raise my shoulder and have very limited movement in my elbow and nothing in my wrist and hand. The physios were mostly doing exercises that I couldn't do alone, and did not seem to be getting anywhere anyway. Has anyone got advice on simple things I could do to stimulate my arm? I had been having acupuncture which certainly relaxed muscles but helped my foot more than my arm. The acupuncture has had to stop as I am self isolating. 

Dear Sue

I have been wondering about stroke survivors who are in the early weeks when corona hit the land. I feel so sorry for you. Its all hard going without the wretched virus.

In the early days I made a point of moving every finger and every toe. And whilst doing that, concentrating on the movement, telling my brain this is what we want to do. I did these little movements three times and then repeated every four hours. Then I walked a little more each day. I had an extraordinary good physical recovery. Please keep everything moving. Recovery can come at any time, but if you let the muscles stop then it might make recovery very hard later on.

If you really cant move some of the digits then use your other hand to move them. Get your brain working. Your limbs are not damaged, its "just" the messaging system.

You might wish to trawel the internet to see some exercises. Maybe try the sitting yoga brigade. Maybe even the NHS online. Today I was surprised to find exercises for sciatica on the NHS site. I had yoga treatment a year ago and it worked well, but couldnt recall what the exercise was. Hence the search today.

Keep on at it Sue. Things improve, its just that its all so slow.

Help and support is great, but I found it was, at the end of each day, only me that could effect recovery.

On day one I was so paralysed that only my right hand moved. I couldnt even sit up or turn my head. I now have pretty full movement of everything and most of this happened in the first few months. So never ever give up.

I was ischemic (ie I am a clot) if you are a bleed then maybe other advice is essential.

So come on fellow posters, get your thinking caps on and pass on your experiences to Sue. All positive stuff please. 

Keep smiling

Be positive

Lots of us are out here for you


Hi how about a stress ball. One that. Your. Able to put. In. Your hand to get it stronger

Hiya Sue. I'm hoping this will work.....  two photos of the exercises suggested to me after my stroke in 2017, after Iost movement in my right arm and hand.

It's worked of a fashion I guess, hopefully good enough to read.....frown

How's your day going on ?

Sue, I did these exercises in rehab. Take a small cardboard box without a lid and some clothes pegs. Open each clothes peg and put them along the edge of the box and take them off again. Repeat.

Lift a small unbreakable object from one spot and put it on another.

Put arms apart and bring hands together until index fingers touch. Try a salute with weak arm and hand. Touch nose with index finger of weak hand.

Throw a bean bag into a container on floor using your weak hand.

Ability to do these will depend on the mobility in your arm and hand. They are also quite frustrating.

My physiotherapist gave me great advice by telling me the foot and leg recover faster than the arm and hand because the arm and hand perform more complex functions.

Four years on, my weak arm and hand are much better. Both are still inclined to jerk, but my smashing crockery days are mostly behind me. Stick at it. Improve comes , but oh so slowly.

I found these online.

Hi Sue - I was given a leaflet on discharge from hospital which had a few hand and arm exercises in. They were:-

Roll a tennis ball across a table with your good hand and try and catch it with your stroke hand and vice versa.

Try to pick up some cocktail sticks with your stroke hand and place them in a small freezer box one by one (this is really tricky!)

Pick up some small beads which are different in shape and texture and place in a cup. 

Take two plastic kitchen jugs and fill one with water. Pour the water from your good hand jug into your empty jug and then empty it back into the original jug using your stroke hand. This is a good one because it weighs more than all the other objects so builds up a bit of muscle at the same time.

My own little version of above was each time I used up a toilet roll, I would throw the empty one into the bathroom bin.  It took me almost 18 months before I could do it but I did!  I am still useless at throwing but can catch pretty good now. I also do the thumb touching each of the other fingers as quick as I can and then backwards too. I did this constantly in hospital because I could never get any sleep in the stroke ward at night - too much noise, lights and things going on so I did this little exercise until my fingers hurt!


My stroke was just 4 weeks ago. It affected my right arm, hand, leg and face.

but at the moment not very badly.

it was caused by my carotid artery being 65% full and a bit of the 'gunge' came away.

i was due to have an op, to clean out the artery, but because of this horrible virus, my op was cancelled on the day I was due to have it.

Has anyone else had this operation? Was it successful?

Hi Kathy,

I had the op 3yrs ago after they found I was 90% blocked and as you say I also had a TIA when pieces broke free I was extremely lucky and the NHS team were fantastic, it does take time to get back to as near to normal as you can, you will feel tired and emotional very easily but don't give up  and keep exercising your body particularly the parts that maybe effected build the strength in them. Keep taking the medication, I am enjoying my life and appreciate how lucky I was with Holiday's, family etc.

all the best


I have no movement in my hand, my arm isn't great either although it does move a little the tone has now gotten so tight that my arm and hand are curling in, I am also having extreme pain in my wrist and hand, I had my stroke in Feb 2019, is there any hope of getting movement back as I would like to keep the left side of my trousers up and my hand would be handy for doing that, I was meant to get Botox but that was put on hold with this virus like everything else. Has anyone had similar and got movement back or is this it. Thanks 

Hi you'll probably have heard the words perceiver and patience a lot but they are key. 
I've had 3 strokes in 5 years and 2 of 3 have completely knocked out my left side and I've had to rebuild from scratch. I stumbled on a website for stroke recovery it's called Saebo. It's an American company that offers products for stroke patients but also has lots of exercises and fact sheets to help. There's no timescale on recovery although a lot of professionals say you don't improve past six months, don't believe them !!!! I'm still improving !!!! 
if you want to talk further leave me a message 

best of luck and keep the faith 

Hi Sue,

My stroke was 15 months ago. I was given theraputty by my stroke team and find it helpful in keeping movement in my fingers and also very calming as well. Get it online very easily. I started with soft but quickly moved on to medium, they come in different colours. Good luck with your recovery!












I had my stroke in Ecember 2018and all initial physio focus was rightly on getting me walking so I could get around and see folk but like you I've never had good use of my left arm & hand and likewisehave had botox treatment postponed. T he problem is that the new pathways the brain needs to create to get you arm and hand moving again are much more complex then for legs / syanding and walking and it will take patient perseverence and determination through repetitive exercises.I think the best advice I can give is not to be too ambitious - small movements eventually lead to bigger ones so start by trying to move your arm across a soft cushion in a rolling motion on your lap,so it's not against the force of gravity and once you can do it repeat it over and over. If you feel tired or your arm aches then have a rest / stop and come back to it tomorrow. Moving on to attempting to lift your hand off the cushion will follow but at first it will be hard as it's against gravity - so a couple of inches will be fine - always start modestly / achieve small steps and only then set more ambitious targets - it's better to be successful at small steps than fail at bigger ones - in a fewweeeks those small successes will enable you to move on and improve further - then in a few months affter repetitive but modest movements you'll be able to look back to what you couldn't do compared to where you are then - I'm on the same journey - it's slow and not easy - but small successes are good for keeping motivation going and I'm sure that this is not 'it' - don't give up - sadly there's no-one else who can do this for you and you do have an arm and hand still connected to your body and brain - so it can be repaired and be useful again - let's get there !!

Best wishes










You could try squeezing a squash ball or any other small soft object eg beanbag or toy also making simple circling movements from the wrist or elbow may help

thank you so much. Most hand exercises are not much use as I cant grasp and spend most of my time trying to get my hand out of fist mode. I have a splint to stop this but ofcourse that immobilises my hand. I have been told the most important thing is to straighten the elbow so my lower arm is not across my chest. However straightening immediately sends my hand into a vice like fist as does any walking. I keep pegging on and hopefully one day the vice will loosen.

Thank you for your post. Have difficulty holding a ball at the moment. Default position is a vice like fist. Will try rotating movements though need other hand to help.

Thank you. Have not been told about theraputty so will investigate.

Thank you. Most of these I cant do at the moment as I have no movement in my fingers. The hand is mostly a tight fist. I keep massaging it and hoping.