Gripping News for Both Genders
What's in a handshake? It depends on who's asking. Physical and occupational therapists measure handgrip strength to find out many things. It gives practical information about the muscles, nerves, bones, and joints. The strength of a handgrip tells the therapist if the patient needs help with daily activities.

Grip strength is measured in some sports. It's required in some places before entering work as a police officer, fire fighter, or soldier. The device used to measure grip strength is called a dynamometer. There are several different types of dynamometers. One is a bulb that is squeezed. A dial attached shows the pounds of force used. The most commonly used one is handheld with an adjustable handle. It can be placed in five different grip positions.

Therapists and doctors who use the grip dynamometer would like to know if there is an optimal grip span. Is this grip span related to the patient's hand size? If it is, should the adjustable grip bar be set according to the hand size?

Doctors in Spain set out to answer these questions. They especially wanted to know which position on the grip dynamometer gives the hand the strongest measurement. They found the best grip span for both men and women. It's different for each hand. They also discovered that hand size makes a difference for women when choosing a grip setting. This wasn't true for men.

When measuring grip strength, the standard dynamometer can be set in one place for men. In women, the hand size must be measured first before deciding which grip span to use. A simple formula is used to make this decision.
Jonathan Ruiz-Ruiz, BSc, et al. Hand Size Influences Optimal Grip Span in Women but not in Men. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. September 2002. Vol. 27A. No. 5. Pp. 897-901.