Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Open Hands

What did the five fingers say to the face?

I like to balance my movements: presses & pulls and quadriceps & hamstring work. That's a basic overview, but to my surprise in late 2009 I learned I was ignoring my fingers. They were always in flexion (curled in, not straight). Ben's article "Balanced Hands" explained many daily activities put fingers in flexion: typing on a keyboard, driving, or grabbing anything - pencil, glass, barbell, tennis racket, you name it.

Ben outlines ways to train finger extension in the article, but the only method I've tried is utilizing rubber bands. However recently I've applied isometric work to finger extension with no equipment. The result,

Before & After

The fingers are straightest after a set is done. For those who are unfamiliar with isometrics, it's exerting effort against an immovable object. Despite no movement occurring, muscular tension is created during a fixed posture. It's important to understand that one static point isn't representative of an entire movement. Therefore, performing a hold at multiple points is best such as at the start, middle, and end points of a movement. Because there are infinite points along an exercise's curve it's not possible to focus on every point. (You best believe I remember something from calculus!)

It's very simple to apply isometrics to train finger extension.

Hands are like that to see clearly.
You can position your hands however you choose.

As the hand on the right is attempting to open up, the hand on the left is acting as resistance by applying pressure to it. I chose four positions:
(1) Fist-like
(2, 3) Middle points
(4) Near full extension
Alternatively, you can slowly open one hand while the other relaxes to put it into a rep-styled scheme. I show all the fingers being trained simultaneously, but one or a few fingers can be done at a time as opposed to all at once.

Since the fingers go behind the hand and wrist when in full extension, the end range can be trained like this as well:

You can also extend against a solid object
such as you're desk, bed, wall, etc.

With isometrics, a few seconds for each point is sufficient. And there's also no need to train finger extension aggressively. A little goes a long way - whether you're at work, in the car, or relaxing, take a few seconds to work your fingers.

Couple the strengthening with finger extension stretching and you're good to go for healthier hands.....but try not to slap anyone with them.

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