PRIMAL DIAGNOSIS: An Important Exam Your Doctor Might be Forgetting

If you’ve been in to see me lately, you’ll notice I’m taking an extra measurement that you might not be used to.  I’m testing how strong you grip.

According to a study published last year (Leong, et al., 2015), grip strength was reported more predictive of all-cause mortality (overall chance of death) and cardiovascular mortality (death from heart disease) than your blood pressure readings. This is a measurement you and your doctor should be measuring when working to achieve optimal health and prevent early aging and premature death.

Muscular Strength and Your Health

Multiple studies through the recent years illustrate that overall muscular strength is a necessity for recovering from illness and preventing early death. A few examples include:

  • A study of over 1 million male adolescents revealed increased muscular strength was associated with lower rates of overall death and cardiovascular-related death.  There was also decreased rates of mental illness and suicide. Muscle strength was more predictive of premature death than blood pressure (Ortega, et al., 2012).
  • A study of 6,000 men over the course of 15 years showed that diminished grip strength was associated with overall chance of death, regardless of the participants body mass index (Rantanen, et al., 2000).
  • A study of over 8,000 men revealed that overall muscular strength was protective against death from all causes, as well as death from cancer.  These findings were true, even after adjusted for cardiorespiratory fitness. (Ruiz, et al., 2008)

Grip Strength is About More Than Your Hands

Assessing grip strength reflects much more than just how strong your handshake is. 

Sit down for a minute.  Squeeze your hand tightly and feel your muscles engage.  You might feel the muscles in your hand engage first, but then squeeze harder. You should feel your forearm muscles engage. As you squeeze even harder, you’ll feel engagement in your upper arms and even your back engage. 

Indeed, grip strength is way more than about your hands. It is a reflection of the muscular strength of your entire body (Wine, et al, 2010). 

Grip strength is also more than just a refection of how often you perform strength training.   For instance,  low grip strength is often due to improper nutritional status and has the potential to improve with nutrient replacement (Flood, et al., 2014).

How I'll Use Your Grip Strength Measurements to Help You

The above studies illustrate muscular strength to be protective against disease, regardless of your cardiorespiratory fitness, your body mass index (BMI), or your blood pressure readings.

I’ll use a naturopathic/functional medicine approach to address your individual biomedical imbalances, address potential nutrient deficiencies, and support immune, neuromuscular, and hormone function.  

Working together, we will monitor grip strength and other measures to objectively monitor your improvements as you work toward optimal physical performance.

If you are interested in working together, please see my appointment and contact page.


Flood, et al. ‘The use of hand grip strength as a predictor of nutrition status in hospital patients.’ Colin Nutr. 2014. 33(1).

Leong, D, et al. ‘Prognostic value of grip strength: Findings from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study.’ Lancet. 2015; 386

Ortega, F, et al. ‘Muscular strength in male adolescents and premature death: cohort study of one million participants.’ BMJ. 2012; 345

Rantanen, T., et al. ‘Muscle strength and body mass index as long-term predictors of mortality in initially healthy men.’ J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2000; 55(3).

Ruiz, et al. ‘Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: prospective cohort study.’ BMJ. 2008; 337.

Wind, et al. ‘Is grip strength a predictor for total muscle strength in healthy children, adolescents, and young adults?’ European Journal of Pediatrics. 2010; 169;3