Hi Everyone! It's finger week here at the clinic-
This blog article is focused on stability and functionality of your fingers. If you aren't one to focus on exactly how you are using you fingers when you climb, or you've noticed that you cannot control them as well as you'd like, this program is for you.
Want to kick off the season with strong fingers? Rehabilitating an injury?
These exercises are sure to unweight your injury and to help you to decrease the load on those unhappy flexor tendons and pulleys.. Grab a basic rubber band to get started (or a tiny one if you are recovering from a lumbrical/ interosseous muscle injury) and let's get going!
Basic Rubber Band Exercises are Good For:
-Improvements in Hand Strength in Wide Fingered Positions
-Decreased Buckling of Joints
Here is a sample exercise program for my athletes suffering from pulley and finger related injuries (joint damage, lumbrical injuries, recovering fractures). Consult with your doctor if you are worried about beginning this program OR shoot me an email if you want customized coaching.
1. Opposing Thumb to First Finger
Let's get 10 perfect reps in while trying to maintain joint stability. If you have 'hyper mobile' joints or are 'double jointed' focus your attention to the joints staying straight and the fingers moving slowly and in a controlled fashion.
-Move the thumb independently away from the first finger 10 perfect reps
-Move the first finger sideways, away from the thumb 10 perfect reps
Now do this between EACH of your fingers and your thumb, looping the rubber band around your finger in as many circles as you need to make the exercise difficult but not impossible. Remember, our goal is good motion and proper joint protection.
Don't sacrifice stability for strength- It's a losing strategy.
Above: Thumb to first finger.
2. Thumb to 2nd finger-5th fingers.
As we did above, choose to work each finger in opposition of the thumb- Is one stronger or weaker than the others? You might notice you have difficulty keeping the finger straight OR that one joint is a little more difficult to control than the others. Focus on teaching proper motion patterns (or getting what you ask for) and this will increase the motor control of the region.
This attention to detail will decrease your injury risks!!
Above: Thumb to 4th finger. This is my weaker finger, see how the bottom most joint wants to bow backward? I'm focusing on keeping it straight and now my rehab will focus primarily on teaching this little joint where 'neutral' is and also how to maintain it under stress. 10 perfect reps each day and you'll have this in no time! Then go for time, 1.5 minutes should be easy before we progress you to the next steps.
3. Finger to Finger.
Now let's go for 10 perfect reps between each finger:
-2nd (Pointer) and 3rd (Middle) fingers
-3rd and 4th (Ring) fingers
-4th and 5th (Pinkie)
Above- Placement of your rubber band, if you are wanting it harder, move the rubber bands closer to the fingertip, if you need it easier, move them close ro your palm.
Above- Pointer and Middle Finger, move each independently and THEN as a team.
Focus on them moving the same speed and the same distance. Does one move an the other just SIT there? Good catch- now we can teach it to do it's job!!
Join the team little guy!!
Out of the above exercises- Which ones are you bad at? Let's jot these down so you can focus on them in the future. Once we can do 10 without pain/difficulty and the motion is smooth with no joint buckling, lets go for endurance next. 1.5 minutes straight PER finger.
Above: What am I doing in this photo?
Answer: Let's say it has something to do with the relationship between my 3rd and 4th fingers again... They just CANT move as independents, one is dominant one barely moves without focus. Makes sense since I have a gigantic giant cell tumor on my A2 on the one that won't move very well- Pain causes weakness as the body protects itself from further abuse. A common protective pattern that needs retraining.
Above: A video just for you putting this all together!!
Now for extra credit, What did I miss?!
Be playful with your banding experience and don't judge yourself or assume that you're a rockstar. NONE of us are rockstars at this if we haven't been practicing it. The better at observation you are, the more you just might notice and learn. Learning is a long term thing.. Speaking of such, do you have upgrades on these exercises or other ones you want to share? Shoot them over to me and I'll post them and give you photo credit! Mt email: firstname.lastname@example.org