How can I make my left hand work better?
May 2, 2011 5:14 AM   Subscribe

Can I make my left-hand 'work' better? I've recently taken up a sport where using my left hand is really important - until now, I've always thought of my left hand as a fairly useless appendage.

Are there specific exercises I can do to increase the use of my left hand and arm, or are there any hacks to make it feel more 'attached' to my body?
posted by mattr to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Try using your computer's mouse with your left hand. That'll wake it up!
posted by Carol Anne at 5:23 AM on May 2, 2011

Or pretty much anything that you normally do with your right hand (holding a fork, opening a soda bottle, writing, etc). Just pay close attention to things you favor your right hand on and try performing those same actions with your left.
posted by samsara at 5:45 AM on May 2, 2011

Brush your teeth with your left hand. Learn a complex pattern of digits 1-5 and tap your fingers and thumb in that pattern.

Does the sport in question need more strength or dexterity, compared with that you have in that hand? Finger and forearm strengthening devices may help too. I like the DynaFlex.
posted by supercres at 5:57 AM on May 2, 2011

Google "finger strengthening." I am overwhelmingly left-handed (left-footed, left-brained, left-wing...) and when I began studying massage therapy I had to bring the right side up to speed fast. Finger-strengthening exercises, wrist stretches, always having a squeezy thing in my right hand, etc. but also making sure not to strain it. My left hand/arm are still much stronger, but my right elbow & fingertips actually are better at "reading" my clients than my left hand.
posted by headnsouth at 6:04 AM on May 2, 2011

What is the sport?
posted by jasondigitized at 6:05 AM on May 2, 2011

Response by poster: Clay Shooting (Sporting Clays) - so I'm moving my shotgun (about 7 or 8 ibs) and now mainly driving the action with my left hand - this is what feels a little 'disconnected'
posted by mattr at 6:51 AM on May 2, 2011

Best answer: Fun sport. Part of the reason this feels so odd to you is the difference in strength between your two arms/shoulders. Do you lift weights? If not, consider it. Lifts like the military press will help reduce the strength difference between your two shoulders which will make a huge difference.

Definitely switch mouse hands, too. You need to become more comfortable with the fine motor movement patterns for your left hand. Do everything you can with your left hand. Funnily enough, I found whisking eggs with my left hand to be incredibly difficult when compared to my right and the strides I made improving my left hand egg beating technique carried over to mouse control, etc.
posted by Loto at 6:58 AM on May 2, 2011

Practice, practice, practice.

You can train yourself to be reasonably accomplished with your left hand. I've found this to be really useful for mechanic or cronstruction work. I can't write with my left hand, for instance, but I can wrench or swing a hammer with it. This matters a lot when you're reaching up into the bowels of something and there's only one way to get that nut tightened. You can similarly train yourself to do a lot of stuff by feel, rather than visually. Really handy skills for car or house repairs, I find.

The only way to learn is to do it a lot though.
posted by bonehead at 8:39 AM on May 2, 2011

Best answer: I second mousing-with-the-left-hand and weight training. Both have helped me enormously with shooting.

A few years of left-hand-mousing have made me more-or-less ambidextrous; about the only thing I can't do with my left hand is write. It'll drive you crazy for about a week (assuming you use the computer a lot, if not it'll take longer), but after that it gets easier and easier.

Lifting makes a big difference, too: greater shoulder and arm strength means greater accuracy. If you lift weights three times a week for six months or a year, you'll be amazed at how much easier it gets to move the gun smoothly, and how much longer you can hold it before your aim starts to waver.
posted by vorfeed at 11:14 AM on May 2, 2011

Response by poster: Cannot believe I didn't think of the left-hand mouse thing - that is exactly the level of precision I want - already switched hands...
posted by mattr at 11:18 AM on May 2, 2011

You could try playing Rock Band or Guitar Hero type games. My left hand dexterity has increased significantly, and I don't even play that much.
posted by ilona at 11:41 AM on May 2, 2011

My daughter had a stroke when she was born and has a great deal of difficulty with her right side and has hardly any fine motor control. What do we do? Once a year, her good arm gets put into a cast for three weeks and during those three weeks she is doing tons of fine/gross motor fun activities, which amount to 6 hours of PT. The difference after that time is nothing short of astounding.

Am I recommending you put one arm in a cast? No. Since you are invested in doing this, you can obey the rules without needing a cast to enforce them. Consider wearing a mitten on your dominant hand or taping your dominant hand's thumb so that you can't use it.
posted by plinth at 1:22 PM on May 2, 2011

Learn to juggle. It's quite a challenge, the sense of achievement is significant, and it's just fun to do - quite apart from it being right hand / left hand symmetrical, and therefore useful to you right now.

Note: I had a good teacher, and I was quite surprised when, after a couple of hours of introduction, I suddenly found myself juggling.
posted by labberdasher at 1:43 PM on May 2, 2011

Try writing with your left hand.
posted by oonh at 3:49 PM on May 3, 2011

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