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  • Writer's pictureLauren McDougall

Can an Exercise Physiologist help with fine motor skills?

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

(And why is this picture relevant?)

Let’s start with what “fine motor skills” are - they involve the use of the smaller muscles of the hands.

So, back to the question - Yes, but. As Exercise Physiologists, we generally don’t teach specific fine motor skills, such as how to do up buttons and zips, hold and use cutlery, how to hold a pencil or how to cut with scissors.


There are building blocks to developing fine motor skills. You need sufficient core strength and upper body strength before you can properly succeed in achieving fine motor skills. For example, the muscle development needed for writing requires strength in the whole arm before you can appropriately develop the more details strength and control in the hands and fingers.

An Exercise Physiologist can help you with the building blocks to developing fine motor skills. We can help you to build your upper body (arm and shoulder) strength, your core and postural strength to help you develop a foundation for developing fine motor skills. Through doing this, we can also help develop your grip strength (eg holding the dumbbells or bands), which will also support your hand strength. The development of your hand muscles is needed for grasping and coordinating your finger movements.

This also means we can help share the load with other therapists, and help you reach your goals. As one example, your OT or physio might be working on a specific fine motor skill, such as handwriting. They might have noticed deficits in your ability to sit upright at the desk, as well as the upper body fatigue you may experience.

Your Exercise Physiologist can help you to develop those core and upper limb building blocks to support all your hard work with your other therapist to improve outcomes.

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