The current medical research defines grip strength as an “indispensable biomarker for older adults.” In other words, the strength in your hands, wrists, and forearms says a lot about your health. It's also an indication of your risk for injury, mental health conditions, and more.
Grip strength is found in the current literature as a biomarker. Biomarkers are medical signs at the level of pathology, body function or structure, or activity/participation that objectively indicate medical status. ( Bohannon, 2019). Grip strength, a measure of body function, has been suggested as a biomarker of aging. As such, its value as an explanator of current status and predictor of future outcomes has been widely researched and reviewed. This narrative review aims to provide an up-to-date, thorough, and balanced synopsis of research addressing grip strength as a biomarker of current and future medical status.
Supporting this proposition, evidence is provided herein that shows grip strength is largely consistent as an explanator of concurrent overall strength, upper limb function, bone mineral density, fractures, falls, malnutrition, cognitive impairment, depression, sleep problems, diabetes, multimorbidity, and quality of life. Evidence is also provided for a predictive link between grip strength and all-cause and disease-specific mortality, future function, bone mineral density, fractures, cognition and depression, and problems associated with hospitalization. Consequently, the routine use of grip strength can be recommended as a stand-alone measurement or as a component of a small battery of measurements for identifying older adults at risk of poor health status.
Although grip strength is not directly required for the performance of functional activities such as gait, it does distinguish between older adults on the basis of their mobility. Forrest et al noted significantly lower grip strengths among older Americans who reported physical limitations- including standing from a chair, walking, climbing steps, and “going out.” (Zang, 2017)
How is Grip Strength determined
Grip Strength, for the most part, is tested by two devices, There are many variations of this how this test is measured. Hand Dynamometer, as seen here, and the pinch grip Gauge is tested by a separate device, as shown below.
The Pinch grip test is used to examine the neurological dysfunction of the anterior interosseous nerve branch of the median nerve. This is known as Anterior Interosseous Nerve Syndrome (AINS). AINS can be caused by compression of the nerve between the heads of the pronator teres muscle. (Mathiowetz et al., 1985)
Procedures for the pinch tests, which vary in the way that the gauge is held:
Two-Point Pinch (also called the tip-to-tip pinch) - The pinch meter is placed between the tip of the thumb and the tip of the index finger.
Lateral Pinch (also called the key pinch) - The pinch meter is placed between the thumb pad and the index finger's lateral surface.
Three-Point Pinch (also called the Palmar pinch or 3-jaw chuck pinch) - The pinch meter is placed between the pad of the thumb and the pad of the index and middle fingers.
Pulp-to-Pulp Pinch - like the 2-point tip-to-tip pinch, except the pads of the fingers are pressed to the pinch meter rather than the tips.
Scoring: The subject should be strongly encouraged to give maximum effort. The best result from several trials for each hand is recorded, with at least 15 seconds of recovery between each effort. Results are expected to differ between males and females, between left and right (dominant and non-dominant) hands. (Mathiowetz et al., 1985).
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Bohannon R. W. (2019). Grip Strength: An Indispensable Biomarker For Older Adults. Clinical interventions in aging, 14, 1681–1691. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S194543
Helen C. Roberts, Hayley J. Denison, Helen J. Martin, Harnish P. Patel, Holly Syddall, Cyrus Cooper, and Avan Aihie Sayer, A review of the measurement of grip strength in clinical and epidemiological studies: towards a standardized approach. Age Ageing (2011) 40 (4): 423-429.
Mathiowetz, Virgil & Kashman, Nancy & Volland, Gloria & Weber, Karen & Dowe, Mary & Rogers, Sandra. (1985). Grip and Pinch Strength: Normative data for adults. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation. 66. 69-74.
Zhang, Q., Lu, H., Pan, S., Lin, Y., Zhou, K., & Wang, L. (2017). 6MWT Performance and its Correlations with VO₂ and Handgrip Strength in Home-Dwelling Mid-Aged and Older Chinese. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(5), 473. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14050473