Do you struggle to open that pickle jar ever single time? Do you worry your handshake isn't exactly interview-ready? Well, you're not alone. According to one new study, people now have the weakest grip strength ever, or at least since these things have been studied. Ladies, it's time to get a grip—literally.
Hand strength probably isn't something you think about too often. After all, when's the last time you consciously trained your palms at the gym? Exactly. But perhaps you should be thinking about it more. Researchers found that millennial women ages 20 to 24 have significantly weaker hand grips than women tested in the mid 1980s, according to research published in the Journal of Hand Therapy.
You can thank the swipe-screen technology for that, said lead author Elizabeth Fain, Ph.D., of Winston-Salem State University. "As a society, we're no longer agricultural or manufacturing ... What we're doing more now is technology-related, especially for millennials," she says to NPR.
All of our swiping, pinching, texting, and thumb scrolling has previously been linked to other anatomical changes like alignment problems in the neck and spine and a hunched-over posture. (Not to mention injuries from things like falling into open manholes or car accidents caused by texting while driving.) So now your hands are suffering the ill effects too, with an influx of overuse injuries and even early onset arthritis.
But before you hop on Amazon to buy one of those weird grip tools that looks like a ThighMaster for your fingers, consider for a moment that unless you're a professional arm wrestler it's probably not a huge deal. The grip strength norms were put in place more than 30 years ago, so what's "normal" or "healthy" should be updated along with the times, added Fain.
Regardless of whether waning grip strength is actually a serious problem or just the way of the future, it wouldn't hurt your hands (or your brain or your eyes) to take a break from typing, clicking, and Candy Crushing for a bit. Want a killer grip without actually having to resort to gimmicky gadgets or callused hands? Try activities that require you to use your grip, like rock climbing, paddling, tennis, and jumping rope. (Get started with this 10-Minute Jump Rope Workout.)