Can Hand Grippers Damage Your Hands?

June 18, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “can hand grippers damage your hands?”. Hands grippers are a great tool for strengthening your grip strength. I use them twice a week at the moment in my own training.

This works well for me and I am making good progress with my grip strength by adopting this approach. Hand grippers can also cause injuries if not properly used or used too often.

This article will explore this topic in greater detail and provide a lot of insight into this. The aim is to educate you on how you can avoid injuries from hand gripper training.

Can Hand Grippers Damage Your Hands?

Overall, hand grippers are generally safe for your hands. I have been using hand grippers regularly for many years and have experienced very few injuries from them.

The only injury I experienced from hand grippers was some tennis elbow from using very heavy grippers more often than I should. Working on your open hand strength in conjunction with gripper training will reduce injuries of this nature.

It is important to ensure adequate rest between sessions. Some people become overzealous and find it hard to put hand grippers down. They will overtrain with the grippers and increase the risk of incurring injuries.

Training hand grippers two or three times a week is sufficient. You will make good progress with this approach and be unlikely to experience injuries.

Some hand gripper training techniques like heavy negatives carry a higher risk of injury. Personally, I don’t advise incorporating too many heavy negatives into your gripper training for this reason.

Hand Grippers Are Generally Safe

It is important to remember that training with hand grippers is generally very safe. If you use hand grippers properly and warm up well, the risk of injury is low.

You should start with a very light gripper to warm up. Then progress onto your heavier working sets later on. It is a good idea not to train with low reps too often.

My preferred strategy with grippers is to perform repetitions in the 8 to 10 range. I use the Vatiz adjustable gripper a lot, how I progress is to aim for more reps in this range with a certain setting.

Once I reach my target reps I will increase the tension and then shoot for 8 to 10 reps. I will increase the tension again once I can complete 10 reps with a given tension. 

In this way you can improve your grip strength a lot over time. You will also have a very low risk of getting injured, you are staying in the higher rep ranges. Another approach to grip training would be to split your sessions into volume and intensity.

This is akin to an approach that you can use in your weight training. Volume days will involve more repetition and intensity days will be training with very heavy grippers and doing lower reps.

The goal will be to progress in both your volume and intensity sessions over time. By doing so you will see both gains in strength and size. As your grip gets a lot stronger you will notice that you forearms will grow slightly as well.

hand grippers

Common Injuries From Grippers

The most common injury that people will experience from hand gripper training is elbow tendonitis. It could be golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow, I have experienced this in the past as well.

This often comes about from heavy hand gripper training too often. It can also be the result of regular overtraining with grippers. To combat this, you should ensure adequate rest between gripper sessions.

Try not to train very heavy grippers too often. You could program in an intensity day and volume day for your grip training. This will also help prevent overuse injuries and allow your grip to recover between heavy sessions.

Another way is to approach gripper training the way I do currently. Shoot for reps in the 8 to 10 range and progress in this rep range with heavier tension grippers over time.

Both ways are safe and will reduce your risk of suffering injuries dramatically.

Using Grippers That Are Too Challenging

Similar to ego lifting in the gym, a big mistake that many people make is using hand grippers that are too challenging for their current strength level.

They want to look cool and show off that they are able to train with very heavy grippers. I never understood this mentality personally. If you are not strong enough to close a very heavy gripper, you should not be training with it.

You should do rep work with lighter grippers and get stronger incrementally until you are able to close the heavier grippers. Then you repeat this process again at a higher level of base strength. Rinse and repeat.

This is how you build strength the right way, with consistency and the correct approach. There is a school of thought that advocates heavy negative training with hand grippers.

From my experience, the risk to reward ratio of doing heavy negatives is poor. You are better off training with full reps. If you are doing a set and you get to the last rep and can’t quite close the gripper, you can use your other hand to help you force it shut.

These are called forced reps and should be done sparingly. They are less risky than very heavy negatives, this is because you are already able to do most of the work yourself. You only need a tiny bit of assistance.

Previously I have examined closely many hand grippers.

Are Hand Grippers A Good Idea For Athletes?

I am a big fan of hand grippers and find them to be a very enjoyable form of training. Seeing yourself progress over time on hand grippers is very rewarding.

Also, the fact that many people who go to the gym can’t close the grippers that you can is an ego boost. It is a good feeling to know that you have a stronger grip than the majority of people.

It is also practical in real life where having a stronger grip can even save your life. Having said that, are hand grippers the best idea for athletes looking to train for a specific sport?

Jedd Johnson presents some interesting insights into this. I do agree with him to an extent. MMA athletes and rugby players could benefit more from fat bar training and working with sandbags.

You have to be able to man handle and physically dominate others in these sports. Working with very heavy sandbags would transfer better to these disciplines.

Final Thoughts?

Can hand grippers damage your hands? The truth is that they can, but generally they are very safe to use. If you train with grippers sensibly and use good technique you will be fine.

Just be sure to allow adequate rest between sessions and don’t train with super heavy grippers too often. Repetition work will be beneficial and will help to increase the size and vascularity of your forearms.

Athletes should favour other training modalities in terms of grip specific training for their sport. Doing fat bar training and sandbag work would often give them a greater payoff in their sport.

If you have any comments on this topic please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

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