Handgrip strength is a vital force that is required to pull, push, or suspend objects.
It determines how firmly and how long you can hold on to objects.
Handgrip strength varies from one person to the other.
Handgrip is classified into three types:
Crush grip - The grip strength of your fingers and palms
Crush grip is used to perform functions involving a handshake or gripping an object against the palm and wrapping the fingers around the object.
Pinch grip - The grip strength between your fingers and thumb
Pinch grip is used for opening jars, rock climbing, and throwing objects.
Support grip - Ability to hold on to objects for a longer period of time
A strong support grip required good muscular strength and muscular endurance.
What is the Importance of Handgrip Strength?
A Measure of Mobility
Handgrip strength may predict future loss of mobility. According to a study, men with a weak grip were more likely to face mobility issues compared to those with normal grip strength.
Handgrip strength can be used to measure the risk of an individual with the onset of cardiovascular disease in adults.
Research studies have shown that a better handgrip is associated with healthier heart function.
An 11-pound decrease in grip strength is linked to:
-17% higher of heart disease
-9% higher risk of stroke
The association between gip strength and heart disease was a strong irrespective of age, exercise, smoking, and other factors.
Indicative of Health Conditions
According to a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, grip strength is an important marker of hypertension and diabetes in healthy adults. Individuals with lower handgrip strength were more likely to have diabetes and/or hypertension.
Weak grip strength can make weightlifting, sports training, and even daily activities like carrying objects difficult. It can result in minor discomfort or sometimes even injuries like carpal tunnel and tennis elbow. It is very important to train your grip for mobility, strength, and endurance. Failing to do this can result in repetitive motion injuries.
Handgrip Strength Could Be An Indicator of Evolutionary Fitness In Men
The link between good handgrip strength and positive health outcomes has been observed across both sexes. This trait also appears to be a predictor of sexual behavior, but only among men and not women.
During evolutionary history, increased physical strength was undoubtedly favorable for activities like hunting, fighting, male-male competition, tool manufacture, and tool usage. The handgrip and forearm strength, in particular, were really important.
Thus, upper-body masculinity seems to be an important feature that determined female mating-choice.
This explains why handgrip strength appears to be one of the best measures of male reproductive fitness to-date.
A lot of studies have investigated the relationship between handgrip strength and sexual behavior in men. They report that stronger hand grips are associated with having more sex partners.
This trait also seems to have an association with behavioral traits like aggression and social dominance. According to a study, higher handgrip strength was associated with self-reported aggression during adolescence and young adulthood.
How Does Genetics Influence Handgrip Strength
Handgrip strength is a heritable trait. Up to 65% of a person’s grip strength is determined by genes. Training and other developmental factors like nutrition determine the rest 35%.
ACTG1 Gene and Handgrip Strength
The ACTG1 gene encodes the protein gamma (γ)-actin, which is part of the actin protein family. The proteins of this family help form the actin cytoskeleton.
rs6565586 of ACTG1 and Handgrip Strength
rs6565586 is an SNP in the ACTG1 gene. The A allele of this SNP has been associated with a better handgrip strength.
HLA_ Gene and Handgrip Strength
HLA gene complex encodes proteins that are responsible for the regulation of the immune system. Certain types of HLA have been associated with loss in skeletal muscle mass.
rs78325334 of HLA and Handgrip Strength
rs78325334 is an SNP in the HLA gene. The C allele of this SNP has been associated with weaker handgrip strength.
Other genes like DEC1, ERP27, GBF1, GLIS1, HOXB3, IGSF9B, KANSL1, LRPPRC, MGMT, PEX14, POLD3, SLC8A1, SYT1, TGFA,, and UCP3 are also associated with handgrip strength.
Non-genetic Factors Influencing Handgrip Strength
-Posture: Several studies have found that grip strength measurement for standing is stronger than supine and sitting positions.
-Gender: Males have a stronger handgrip than females
-Handedness: According to a study, handgrip strength is higher in the right hand dominant than left-hand dominant group.
-Nutrition: Nutritional status determines an individual’s body mass and hence, the handgrip strength.
-Age: As you age, your handgrip strength decreases. It is usually the maximum between 25 to 35 years of age.
-Arm support: Arm position influences grip strength. A flexed shoulder position results in greater grip strength. The grip weakens when the arm is supported when compared to an unsupported arm. This can be due to the energy expended in keeping the supported arm stabilized.
-Smoking: Smokers have a higher risk of decreased/weakened handgrip strength.
-Alcohol: Individuals diagnosed with alcoholism have decreased handgrip strength.
Other factors like the altitude, temperature, oxygen availability, and forearm girth also affect handgrip strength.
Recommendations to Improve Handgrip Strength
Hand-grip strength tends to reduce as individual ages.
Men’s grip strength starts to deteriorate post 55 years of age.
However, some exercises can be done to improve hand-grip strength, such as:
-Pullups and chin-ups
A study examined the relationship between diet and handgrip strength in older men and women. The following observation were made:
1. Both men and women whose diets were characterized by high consumption of fruit, vegetables, wholemeal bread, and fatty fish had higher grip strength.
2. Higher consumption of fruit, fatty fish and breakfast cereals and a lower meat consumption (including red and white carcass meats) were associated with higher grip strength in men.
3. The same trend was observed in women with fruits and fatty fish - but no correlation was observed between cereal consumption and handgrip strength.
4. Grip strength in women was positively associated with vegetable consumption.
5. None of the nutrients selected for the study were related to grip strength in men
6. In women, except for vitamin E, all the nutrients showed an association with handgrip strength.
Handgrip strength is how firmly and securely you can hold onto things. It determines your capacity to carry heavy objects as well.
This trait influences a lot of health factors, including mobility, heart health, and longevity. It is also associated with sexual behavior and aggression in men.
65% of a person’s handgrip strength is heritable. More than 15 genes are known to influence this. For example, the C allele of SNP rs78325334 in the HLA gene has been associated with a weaker handgrip.
The other 35% is affected by developmental and lifestyle factors like sex, age, nutrition, posture, smoking, and alcohol.
Gripper exercises, modified planks, pullups and chin-ups, and wrist extension are some of the exercises that help improve handgrip strength.
According to a study, fatty fish and fruits were associated with a better handgrip strength in both men and women.