We’ve already looked at improving piano playing strength and dexterity using the keyboard alone, but what if you want to take things a step further, plus perform finger strengthening, hand strengthening, and wrist strengthening exercises when away from a piano?
There are a number of gadgets and gizmos available but by far the most compact and useful I’ve come across is the Gripmaster series of hand strengtheners.
Although they’re primarily marketed for sports exercise, they make wonderful finger, hand and wrist exercisers too.
The GripMaster range of gadgets work to improve strength, endurance and coordination of the muscles within the hand, as well as most muscles and tendons in the forearm. Perfect for pianists and keyboard players.
There are six different recommended hand exercises: Gross Grasp, Hook Position, Key Pinch, Trigger Pinch, Tip-to-Tip Pinch, and Wrist Flexion. This combination of exercises helps to build strength of thumb and fingers, wrists and forearms.
There are currently six different versions of the GripMaster available, offering various tensions. They range from the XX-Light, through X-Light, Light, Medium, Heavy and X-Heavy. Those used to lighter synth/organ keys may get on well with the X-Light or Light versions, while the Medium or Heavy versions are ideal for pianists working on acoustic and digital pianos with heavier weighted keys. The X-Heavy may be overkill for any pianist.
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The GripMaster range is safe and great value for money, typically retailing for around the $15 mark, but often available for less.
Reviews of the GripMaster range are generally positive. It’s definitely important to treat this form of exercise as seriously as any other, starting slowly with lighter, less repetitious exercises and building up as your strength increases.
It’s also worth continuing to exercise fingers, hands and wrists in the natural environment of playing the piano or keyboard. Yes, this means continuing with scales and other exercises.
Some have said that the GripMaster is not suitable for musicians because it focuses on pure strength rather than dexterity and speed, and has the potential to induce Repetitive Strain Injury. However, in moderation using the lighter tensions I believe it can be a beneficial tool*.
If you’re looking for a cheap, portable and effective hand exerciser for use when away from your instrument, the GripMaster range could be just what you’re looking for.
(* Disclaimer: This is a personal view and should not be taken as medical advice. Seek help from a medical professional before embarking on any exercise programme.)