October 15, 2012

How to stretch fingers, thumb, wrist, hand and forearm

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This video teaches a sequence for wrists and hands. 

These stretching and strengthening exercises are wonderful for people with wrist or hand problems, done at a suitable intensity. They are ESSENTIAL for body workers, computer users, musicians—anyone who uses their hands. Is that you?

The full sequence will take you ten minutes; do twice a week.

Read transcription

Kit:

Now, if you didn't like the foot sequence, you're really not going to like this sequence! I just have to be honest with you. Okay, so watch this. And by the way, the little routine we're going to go through now is straight out of the Bodyline sequence. That's Sommer's work. The gymnasts do a huge amount of work for conditioning their wrists because they're on them so much. When they do those handstands and they do those spins and jumps and things, they're taking over double their body's weight, three times their body's weight through their wrists. Anyway, so what I'm doing is I'm resting on the back of my wrist like this. I'm letting the body's weight press down on the back of the wrist. I've got the elbows completely straight. And then watch, you just lean a little bit of weight sideways.

Kit:

Now, don't kill yourself here. If you've never done these before, just take your time and let the ligaments, the extensive ligaments, stretch. And relax. Then, hands like this and move the body's weight forwards, again, with the elbow straight. And once you've got as much stretch, and I might just turn side-on to demonstrate this. Once you've got as much bend happening as you can, load it up a little bit again, and to load, eventually, you'll be able to do this, but in the beginning, do it off your knees. And if they're too sore or too tender, just bring the knees closer to the wrists like this. You can vary the load from nothing, almost nothing, to a lot. And then watch again. Move sideways slightly and that changes the force through the wrist. Can you all feel that? And then go back to the first position.

Kit:

I'm going to add something to this now. In this position here, elbows straight, wrists on the ground, curl the fingers up like this. Try to keep the elbow straight, Christine. And there's another version of this. It looks like this. And again, move it a little sideways as well. And then turn the fingers back to you like this, elbow straight once more and simply move your body's weight backwards. I might just turn sideways and show you that from the side like this. And slight movement sideways as well. Okay, that's the basic wrist sequence. There are many more of them, but they're the two main movements.

Kit:

Now watch. Put your hands like this where you've lifted this part of the palm off the floor, and so I'm only contacting the floor on fingertips. And do it on the floor rather than on your mat. Now, grip the fingers through the floor. Do it on the floor so you can slide. I'll show you what we're doing next. After you've done the gripping thing, watch, you press this part of the hand, this part here, down onto the floor without actually touching the floor so that the fingers are bent backwards in relation to the hands, and you should be able to feel all the fascia in the palm of your hand being stretched. Can you all feel that?

Kit:

Now, for a massage therapist, this is absolutely essential to keep this all supple. And if you look down on my hand, you'll see the thumb is in exactly the same line as the little finger. If any of you are interested in improving your spread for playing the piano, this is the way to do it. And now the other hand, go like this, push the fingers away or into the floor to spread them and grip really hard as though you were trying to squeeze the fingers together through the floor. Stop. Go further. Can you all feel that? And relax.

Kit:

Okay. Now sit down, please. The finger sequence. We take... Let's start with the little finger on the right hand so that we're all singing the same song. Place the index finger, the tip of the index finger, at the base of the little finger like this, thumb on the tip of the little finger and watch, pivot around to press it backwards like this. Can everyone see that? And then once you pressed it backwards, do a little contraction and go further.

Kit:

Now, when you look at the shape of your joint, if you've ever injured anything or you want a bit more mobility in the second joint, you can always just put a finger against it like this, do a bit of a contraction and press it backwards. All of these joints can become a bit more supple if you want them to. The ring finger now, pivot around the base of the finger itself. Using the tip of the index finger, press the top of the ring finger into the thumb and stretch.

Kit:

Now, we're only working on fingers here. Can you feel this? But what if we do this? If we go back to the little finger, turn the hand over now, and then watch. Bend the wrist backwards as well like this. Can you feel all of a sudden you've got this sensation right up into here? That's the first time I've seen that look on your face, Olivia. If you do a lot of keyboard work, you have to do this. And so the same, we can do the finger part. If I turn the hand over, I can do the finger contraction first and then stretch the finger only and then bend the wrist back, press the finger again, and restretch. Now it's through the whole hand. Can you all feel that? And the same. Finger, press, stretch, turn the hand over, press, stretch.

Kit:

Have any of you seen people who are afflicted by something called Dupuytren's contracture? That's where the fingers... Bill Nye, the actor Bill Nye, his fingers are completely like this. He can't straighten them at all. My dad had it too. It's carried on a particular gene. Men get it. I don't know whether women get it.

Speaker 2:

Women do get it.

Speaker 4:

I think ....

Kit:

Women do?

Speaker 2:

It's more common with men.

Kit:

Okay, much more common with men. In fact, 65% of men in Highland Scottish villages have it. That's the gene.

Kit:

So, last finger, press, stretch. Index finger, finger, press, stretch. Then, add the wrist and really try and get movement in the wrist itself, stretch. And now my favorite, the thumb. First, flex the wrist like this and hold the back of the forearm and pull the thumb to the inside of the forearm. Now, a lot of women can put the thumb on. Can you do that? Yeah. Not that many men. Do a contraction by pressing away and then restretching.

Speaker 3:

Can I see that one?

Kit:

Sure.

Kit:

Lleyton Hewitt. Right? Hold, pull. Would someone... show him; Andre?

Kit:

Yes. The whole hand has to be... No, that's the next movement. That's it.

Kit:

And now the other one. Supposing, we'll call this position the Hewitt position, you're in the Hewitt position like this, watch, you then turn the hand away from you like this and pull the thumb to the other surface of the forearm, and that's where people who used to get writer's cramp get writer's cramp in that muscle there. Can you see that line that's being pulled? Do a contraction and restretch. Now, once you've done that sequence, just feel your whole hand. Isn't that amazing?

Speaker 5:

Do you put the pressure on the last joint?

Kit:

Yes.

Speaker 5:

Or at the joint or right at the tip?

Kit:

Anywhere where I can get some... What our American colleagues call leverage. Okay, so the next hand, the other hand, press, stretch. Turn the hand over, press and restretch. To refine, the first movement is finger in relation to hand only. The second movement is finger in relation to hand and then wrist in relation to forearm. We're stretching the whole of that line through there. Again, press, stretch, turn the hand over, press, straighten the elbow, stretch. I'm a great fan of public transport. This is what I do when I'm riding the buses or trains. Helps to keep people away as well.

Speaker 2:

So, you're going to be getting additional strength to the fingers, too?

Kit:

Look, eventually, this is a piece of cake. Your hands have to be that strong if you're working on people's body. You're leaning your weight through your hands all day. Fundamental strength will protect you from injury. Look, I've got another YouTube video, which shows, and I can't remember... Who was it was saying yesterday that had been playing with that towel hang thing and finding it fantastic? You have to have immense grip strength to be a practitioner and survive the experience. Half of you in your introduction told us that your body's breaking down, you can't do this kind of work anymore. That's crazy. I expect to be doing this stuff when I'm 90 or older. Okay. Thumb, bend, stretch, contract, restretch. And then watch. Turn the hand away from you and pull the thumb to here, and that's this line.

 

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