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Grip Strength Comparison

The importance of our ability to grasp object is evident in our daily lives, from being able to grip a fork and knife while eating, to playing baseball or the violin. If you have every suffered from a hand injury you quickly understand the difficulty of performing daily tasks with reduced grip strength. 

Grip strength has been extensively studied and there exists average values for both men and women. Averages also exist for grip strength as the arm changes position. In general we find that grip strength is the strongest when the arm is extended at 90 degrees in front of the body. Grip strength decreases when the arm is at rest or extended above the head. We can conclude that the ability to recruit different muscles to contract affects our grip strength. 

In medicine grip strength is often used to diagnose neuromuscular disease such as stroke, or a herniated disc. It is also used to evaluate the extent of an injury and/or the effectiveness of physical therapy in recovery. One aspect of hand strength, called pinch strength is used to assess fine motor control of the fingers and is also useful in analyzing the extent of an injury and recovery from surgery or physical therapy.

Instructions

Follow the instructions here to use the Vernier Labquest and Hand Dynamometer probe to assess your grip strength. If you don't have access to a Vernier Labquest the exercise can be completed using an analog dynamometer, just makes sure the results are recorded in Newtons. 

Use the images at the right to check for proper position and testing procedure.

Complete the form below and use the resulting class data to analyze trends in grip strength. 

Grip Strength Comparison


Questions

Examine the class results and answer the following questions. 
  1. Does there appear to be a correlation between “handedness” and grip strength? Are the results similar for right-handed and left-handed people?
  2. What conclusion can you draw about the relationship between height and grip strength?
  3. Does sex play a more significant role in grip strength than height? than “handedness?”
  4. Using the pinch strength data describe the difference in strength between fingers. Where is the difference the largest?
  5. List at least two possible reasons for the differences you see between the pinch strength of the first two fingers and the second two fingers. In your answer consider actions of the hand and musculature (Use an anatomy textbook or atlas to view the muscles of the forearm and hand).
  6. Plot a graph of the maximum and/or average grip strengths for each participant in each category. Do the results correspond with what you would expect in a human population?

EXTENSIONS

Possible Science Fair Project
  1. Perform daily hand-strengthening exercises to increase your grip and/or pinch strength (such as squeezing a rubber ball). Measure your grip and/or pinch strength after two weeks and after four weeks. Compare the results with your original data.
  2. Our results were collected among a limited age groups of participants. One could investigate whether or not grip strength varies with age. Is the difference between dominant and non-dominant hand different in younger children

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