Knitting and other activities to improve hand strength?

Hi my nan has recently suffered from a stroke and has decided to re-take up knitting to improve the strength in her left hand. I was wondering if anyone had tips or activites they do to improve strength in the hands after a stroke?

Many thanks.

hi my physio said a soft ball that can be squeezed will help strengthen.  As for the knitting I have also taken it up again, but, found I needed a light to see the pattern and a note book as I couldnt remember repeated lines so I wrote them down and ticked them off. Hope this helps your nan.

Excellent move by nan. Could she go to a knitting circle as a further part of her recovery ?

Quite honestly, any movement is good. I garden as much as my fatigue will allow. That moves most muscles and achieves something.

If she played piano then maybe an attempt at keyboards (with head phones!) would be good. Music does seem to benefit many of us SS.

Say hello to Nan from me

best wishes


Hi Colin, just a random comment - love the photo, he truly does live up to his name "Magnificent"!!! xx


I got some strength bands in three colours like a giant rubber band and used these to pull with my hands or feet as they could excersize my arms and legs at the same time. I got mine from Amazon and they were not exspensive.


look up 

Kate Davies designs

she's a stroke survivor who has an interesting blog, and is a knitting designer. she's written about her recovery and  how knitting has helped her. she's produced some lovely books. I am not a knitter but I found her story quite helpful 


My main exercise tools were household pegs. I carried one in a pocket all the time and could exercise at the drop of a hat. Gradually I improved to bulldog clips usually with some sort of anti-slip coating to keep them from sliding away. Valerie purchased a plastic ball from a $2 shop, threaded a length of ribbon through it and when out walking I  would carry this in my right hand and try to crush it . The ribbon looped round my wrist so I could drop it if it became a problem. I crushed two of them to death before we found a spongy ball that would last. I decided that it was no use trying to improve the fingers without building up the wrist, arm and elbow so I worked out an exercise routine that would work more generally. I retrieved one of my fly fishing rods from the shed and would spend a while practising casting in the driveway.

    When my hand improved to be able to hold a tool I purchased a pack of 100mm nails and every day would hammer three of them into a lump of softwood in the garden. The first time I did it I took 54 hits to sink the nail but every day after that I was able to break my record till it reached at best 12 hits. I still persist with this routine but the number of hits is inconsistent and varies between 11 and 20 depending on all sorts of factors. After sinking the nails I throw the hammer into the air and catch it with the handle. I do this at least twice to improve my co-ordination. A friend sent me a Flanger FA-10, a device used by musos to strengthen fingers. Later I purchased a Digi-Extend, another elastic band using device which gave resistance to fingers opening. A neighbour's daughter gave me a spring loaded hand gripper which her doctor had given her when her elbow was damaged. I nicked a 1kilo weight from my wife's kitchen scales and used this as a dead weight. So I ended up with a tray full of devices all designed to improve my muscles. 

    Every morning I would test out my finger improvement by finding  how many fingers I could touch with my thumb, this got better and better till everyone was within range. Four months after the stroke I started to try and play the keyboards again. Initially the strength was very weak, it was difficult to produce any volume and the fingers flexibility left a lot to be desired, but at least it was a start and I usually got about fifteen minutes playing exercise before getting too frustrated and packing it in. Another unforeseen problem came to light. My music reading skills had taken a hammering. Often I would look at a note and not be sure what it was, also taking my eyes off the sheet music to see where the fingers were going meant I totally lost my place. These were problems I faced when first learning to read music and now I was having to learn how to overcome them again.

    I spent a lot of time trying to design a plectrum that I could hold and control. It took quite a while following an answer in a campervan forum. A correspondent suggested using the glue that actors use to hold moustaches in place. Its advantage is that it can be removed afterwards. This led me to the final answer of applying double-sided sellotape to the plectrum. This was only needed one side and it worked beautifully. At last I had a system that enabled me to hold a pick for longer than five seconds. Now I could get seriously into getting into shape.


Hello Colin, love the new photo of Oscar.

Still can’t get photos to attach to profile but I’m hopeful they will get it sorted soon.

Hope you are keeping well.


That was his cushion in the early months. 14" cushion, 36" cat.

But thats where he sat. Later we let him in to the rest of the house.

He has often dragged me through the black times of stroke recovery. When I really do not wish to continue living, I always think how thats not on, he needs me.

My last two photos have been wiped off the site. How long will this one last ?

The "magnificent" came from his first visit to the vets. They rather raved about how well he had been looked after. So instead of his original name of Oscar he became Oscarthemagnificent. Then we thought Sooty was more relevant so he is Sooty Oscarthemagnificent.

He doesnt mind me being stroke damaged. He takes me as he finds me. If only friends and relatives could learn from him.


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To get the snap online, I started with "change photo" then when I "browsed" the desired snap then select it by pressing return. Then you have to press the green save button.

I wonder how long this snap will last. Previous two have been wiped off.

I adore my cat beyond belief. No Pets for 45 years of married life, now I would do anything for him. 

I am having a couple of decent days after a month of bad and a fortnight of very bad. Bad days and less bad days are now my accepted "normal". I am very clever telling others what to do, but stupid and uselss when its me that I am advising.

I re read my diaries and it is quite a shock to see how different I was in years one and two and three.

We have to keep on keeping on, dont we.



Well I’ve got the picture on but don’t know how long it will last. 

Sorry to hear you’re not having many good days at the moment. I think we do have times when we feel hopeless and it’s easy to become quite isolated. I’m so glad to be part of my local stroke group with like minded people who understand SF and the ups and downs of stroke. 

When I look back over the year since I had the stroke I can see how I am more settled, although I can still have emotional times they are less frequent than they were. My short term memory still gets the better of me sometimes but again is a lot better than it used to be. I do still find it frustrating that it’s taken a year to get to where I am at now, I feel I’ve missed out on so much.

We got another dog last year and she has been an absolute blessing to us. My husband had a cancer scare around the time I had the stroke so we were both pretty unwell for a while and very fragile. We decided to get another dog and she has made a big difference to us, we love her to bits and she knows it. Thankfully we are both on the mend I hope.

We’ve had some lovely weather over Easter but today it’s gone a bit cold again. Hope you’re making the most of the sunshine it can really lift your spirits. 

Heres hoping the photo works.




Dear Ann

Well done, you got the picture on board.

A dear pet is good therapy for us SS.

And meeting with fellow SS is great. I still thinl we should all move to the IoW and take the place over.

Today is my third decent day in a row so I am hopeful. 

I read my first year post stroke and was quite surprised what was going on. Also quite upsetting. My short term memory is not like prestroke, but it iis improving and I am improving with my efforts to deal with my new level of recall.

I am interested in your comment that you have missed so much during year one. I guess I came at things from a different angle. I felt I was chosen to survive so each week was a bonus. Not always my first thought when I cant open a jam jar, but in theory I have gone past my own sell by date.

Best wishes


Any kind of craft is great, knitting’s also good for concentration counting the stitches and rows. Someone bought me a crotchet magazine after my stroke I remember looking at the pictures and decided to teach myself to crotchet which at the time when I had very little movement in my right arm was not easy. The community physio who used to come round commented that maybe I should not try and do something that was new to me - which made me all the more determined to have a go ! With crotchet you are only using one hook and working on one stitch at a time so for anyone struggling with hand /arm movement it may be a little easier than negotiating 2 needles. Now nearly 2 years later I feel I am pretty good at it ?

Theraputty, pegs, stacking coins, standing coins on edge, rolling a pen between thumb and fingers, fastening/unfastening big buttons are all good for hands. 

My carer made me squeeze a small ball anytime I was idle and it helps but it’s a cute little ball and people keep taking it. 

We got hold of a small rubber ball and my wife threaded a ribbon through it which I could loop around my wrist. This meant I could work on it  whilst out walking but if I dropped it then it couldn't go far. Nowadays I have a rubber duck which is better for crushing since it has some odd shapes. 

I also carry a pen which I try to spin between my fingers. Anything like this is good exercise.


My friend crochets and recently sent me an article of someone who had something happen to them which reduced their hand strength and she liked to crochet and used it to build the strength in her hand. I am not personally interested in crochet like my friend but love cross stitch and and looking at taking it back up again. With the intention that when I finally get some movement in my left arm. I will use my left arm too hopefully helping to build strength  and accuracy in my arm.and hand I think uf you enjoy it it's worth a try.

On sites like complete care shop. There is an aid that you squeeze together.kinf of like o a nutcracker I guess that would do the same thing and probably wouldnt have the same appeal to others