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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Handmaster Plus vs. Gripmaster/Digiflex for Hand and Grip Strength

I get many enquiries from people asking about the difference between spring loaded products (Digiflex) and Handmaster Plus. This inquiry happened to be from a rock climber. They are very different hand exercise products.

A: Thank you for your inquiry. I am the developer of the Handmaster Plus. Though I do not spend time critiquing other products I will tell you the reason for developing Handmaster Plus.

I worked with athletes for over 10 years and consistently saw poor training techniques, the belief being that by squeezing or flexing only, proper grip strength is attained. In the short term, this can appear to be correct. In the long-term, it is often a dangerous assumption. The reason is that we all have finger extensor muscles as well as finger flexor muscles. There are nine muscles that close the hand and equally nine muscles that open your hand. These groups of muscles are equally important. The finger flexor muscles and the finger extensor muscles must stay in balance in order to have strong and healthy fingers, thumbs, hands, wrists, forearms and elbows. Chronic imbalance between the two muscle groups are the core cause of instability conditions at all of these areas. As we know, most people train finger flexors only and have no regard to training finger extensor muscles. This is why carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, extensor tendinitis and many other conditions are so common, especially in grip related activities.

Handmaster Plus strengthens all the muscles that close the hand, as well as all the muscles that open the hand, in one continuous exercise. In that exercise, the hands are allowed to move through their full, natural planes of motion leading to proper muscle length, balance, muscle tone and blood flow to all the tissues in the area.

You will see that products like Digiflex strengthen only the finger flexor muscles, yet it is not alone, as this has come to be the traditional way ‘thought’ to train the hand muscles. You can see a study that was done on Handmaster Plus vs. Digiflex at

The old days of therapy and hand training included a simple device called a rice box. The athlete would immerse their hand in the rice box and squeeze the rice and then opposingly opened their hand against the rice. This is a proper functional exercise but was of course quite inconvenient to carry.

It is also vital for performance to train the finger extensor muscles because these muscles act in support of finger flexion. So if an athlete only trains the finger flexor muscles, they are still likely to experience great fatigue because the stabilizing muscles of grip (the finger extensor muscles) are not strong. Any time you grip, the finger extensor muscles work just as hard as the finger flexor muscles.

In conclusion, finger flexion only exercises open the athlete to imbalance and therefore injury, and also omit strengthening the grip stabilizing muscles, therefore limiting performance. To not train the finger extensor muscles would be akin to not training your core muscles as a climber. Each are key stabilizing muscles for performance.

Our brand partner in the climbing market is Metolius. Metolius is well-versed in proper hand fitness and general fitness and has been a wonderful partner. Please contact Metolius for more information. Please see for more information.


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