Make a Fist to Jog Your Memory

You know the name of that movie! It’s right on the tip of your tongue, but it just won’t come out of your mouth because you can’t at the moment retrieve it from your brain.


Or you meet someone you know very well, start to introduce them to a friend and you can’t think of their name.


Next time that happens try making a fist and see if that name pops into your head.


Sounds a little crazy doesn’t it. But recent research indicates fist clenching can help improve memory when data goes into your brain and retrieval when it comes out of your brain.


Our amazing brains can be stimulated by muscular activity which temporarily changes the functioning of the brain. In this experiment Ruth Propper and her colleagues at the Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey gave 50 right-handed students a list of 36 words to memorize.


They divided these 50 students into five groups:


Group 1 squeezed a pink 2-inch diameter ball their right hand 45 seconds, rested for 15 seconds, squeezed again for 45 seconds before memorizing the list. They repeated this squeezing procedure using the right hand before recalling the words.


Group 2 did the same squeezing procedure but used their left hands.


Group 3 clenched their right hand prior to learning the words and their left hand prior to recollecting.


Group 4 clenched their left hand prior to learning the words and their right hand prior to recollecting.


Group 5, the control group did not clench their fists at all, but held the pink ball loosely.


And who were the winners? Group 3, the right-handed students who clenched the ball with their right fists before memorizing the words and with their left hands when recalling the words.


The research article published on did not mention any testing of left-handed people. Because of the way the brain functions you lefties may need to do just the opposite of righties, clench your left fist before memorizing and your right fist before recalling.


Now admittedly the sample size is small in this experiment. Hopefully someone will expand on this research.


But let’s dream a minute.


When you start to introduce someone and the name escapes you, try squeezing your left fist. Of course it may be an awkward 90 seconds if it takes that long to “squeeze” the memory out of your brain. This trick may work better when you’re trying to remember the name of that movie or that actress.

I remember helping my children and now my grandchildren learn their spelling words. What if we give them a ball to squeeze in their right hands for 90 seconds before they start their spelling memorization and then have them squeeze with their left hands when they take their spelling pre-tests.


Since kids love balls and playing games this just might make spelling homework a little more fun. That in itself could help them relax which in turn could make learning spelling a little easier.


Tell us about your results using this fist clenching method for memorization and recall in the comments section below. Let’s have some fun exploring this technique – it’s so easy!


Resource article in PLOS ONE

About Dr. Jo

Dr. JoDr. Jo delights in sharing the message of health. She believes disease is optional if you know how to take care of yourself. And she’s a great coach to help you reverse or prevent disease.

So she writes this blog to keep you up to date with information that may undermine your health if you are not aware of it. She also provides tips on healthy living, how to reverse degenerative diseases, delicious recipes, and ways to enjoyably change your habits to healthy ones.

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