Muscle strength or grip strength of hands and fingers increases as children are involved in daily activities. Certain indoor and outdoor games like climbing, writing, playing with synthetic clay, or scribbling with crayons help children to develop and strengthen the muscles of the hand and fingers. Grip strength also contributes to the development of fine motor skills, which are essential for many activities in the routine life of children. This article will discuss the importance of grip strength in pediatrics and how it can be developed through games and engaging activities.
Importance of Grip Strength in Physical Development:
Grip strength plays a vital role in the development and performance of daily tasks for children between the ages of 4 and 6. During this stage, children acquire and refine their fine motor skills, which involve coordinating small muscles in the hands and fingers. Grip strength is essential for fine motor skills and influences a child’s ability to perform various tasks.
Here are some reasons why grip strength is vital for children of this age group:
Writing and Drawing: As children progress through their early education, they learn how to write letters and numbers and draw basic shapes. Adequate grip strength enables them to hold a pencil or crayon with control, allowing for precise movements and better penmanship.
Self-care Activities: Developing grip strength assists children in performing essential self-care tasks independently. A firmer grip allows for improved agility and coordination, enhancing their ability to handle these tasks effectively.
Scissor Skills: Around the ages of 4 to 6, children start developing scissor skills, which involve cutting paper along lines or shapes. Good grip strength allows for proper scissors control, enabling children to cut along the desired lines and develop their hand strength and bilateral coordination.
Fine Motor Coordination: Apart from specific tasks, grip strength is vital in fine motor coordination. Strong hand and finger muscles facilitate the development of coordination, precision, and control required for various activities, including using tools, playing musical instruments, and participating in sports.1
Grip Strength Functions As The Predictor of Children's Health:
Grip strength is a functional predictor of children’s health. In addition to providing a foundation for physical development, grip strength improves overall health. Research shows that muscle strength is associated with better overall health, reduced risk of injury, and greater independence in daily life. Developing grip strength in childhood sets the stage for a lifetime of physical activity and better health. Here are some ways in which grip strength is linked to children’s health:
- Musculoskeletal health
- Motor skills development
- Physical fitness
- Weight status and body composition
- Functional ability and independence
- Long-term health outcomes
It is important to note that while grip strength is an indicator of children’s health, it should be considered in conjunction with other measures of health and development.
Various studies have examined the relationship between grip strength and several health conditions, including insulin resistance and cardiovascular health. Here are the scientific shreds of evidence.
Grip Strength is Strongly Associated with Weight, Height, and Gender in Childhood:
The study was performed to understand the relationship between grip strength and age for both sexes. Therapists conducted this study with 1112 boys and 1129 girls aged 4-15. Their grip strength was measured using the hydraulic hand dynamometer. They found that grip strength in both hands increased with age. However, for girls, this acceleration was less prominent. This study clearly showed the grip strength of the boys is more muscular than the girls between 4-15. In addition, height and weight were strongly correlated with grip strength in children.2
The Strong Association Between Grip Strength & Type-2 Diabetes in Childhood & Mid-Adulthood:
Scientists performed this study with 263 participants, and their grip strength was measured using an isometric dynamometer in childhood (9-15 years), young adulthood (28-36 years), and mid-adulthood ( 38-39 years). In mid-adulthood, a fasting blood sample was collected and tested for glucose and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c).
Grip strength is associated with type 2 diabetes in the following (%)
Young Adulthood: 36%
Mid Adulthood: 28%
Finally, the study has concluded that greater grip strength across the life course could protect a person against developing type 2 diabetes. That’s why it is essential to engage your child with muscle-strengthening activities. Adequate grip strength saves children from type-2 diabetes and cardiometabolic disorder in adulthood.3
How to use Squegg to Increase Your Little One's Grip Strength:
In some exceptional cases, hand therapists and occupational therapists prescribe some tools to support a weaker grip for children with certain conditions like Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy, which limits their grip. Squegg Digital Grip Strengthener helps assess grip strength and strengthen the hand muscles, aiding in hand therapy. Squegg uses gamification techniques to improve hand muscle movement for people of all ages. Studies suggest that games focusing on hand muscle movement can enhance cognitive function and motor skills.
In conclusion, grip strength plays a vital role in child development. Developing grip strength is critical for physical development, overall health, and independence in daily life. Parents and caregivers can help children build grip strength through targeted exercises, play, sports, and physical activity.
One of the most straightforward ways to develop grip strength is through play. Toys that require grasping, squeezing, or manipulating objects help children strengthen their grip. Building blocks, balls, and puzzles provide an excellent opportunity for children to work on their grip strength. By incorporating these activities into daily life, parents and caregivers can help children develop the essential skills they need to reach their full potential.
- Occupational Therapy (OT): Kids health information. Rch.org.au. Published 2020.https://www.rch.org.au/ot/information_sheets/Kids_health_information/
- Ploegmakers JJW, Hepping AM, Geertzen JHB, Bulstra SK, Stevens M. Grip strength is strongly associated with height, weight, and gender in childhood: a cross-sectional study of 2241 children and adolescents providing reference values. Journal of Physiotherapy. 2013;59(4):255-261. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/s1836-9553(13)70202-9
- Fraser BJ, Blizzard L, Buscot MJ, et al. The Association Between Grip Strength Measured in Childhood, Young- and Mid-adulthood and Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes in Mid-adulthood. Sports Medicine. 2020;51(1):175-183. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-020-01328-2