By Ben Westerhoff from Technology in Class
I wasn’t an especially anxious child. Nevertheless, I worried about some strange things. For example, it would irk me when a character in a movie would leave his or her headlights on after turning the car off. “That battery is going to die!” I’d think to myself. “How is he going to get back into town?”
I really worried about sleeping with an electric blanket, even though I wasn’t a bed wetter. I wouldn’t drink anything all day.
One legitimate concern I had and still have is the disproportionate amount of finger flexion that occurs on a daily basis as opposed to finger extension.
Just consider how much holding your hands do on a daily basis. Your hands hold a steering wheel, a book, a purse, a laptop, a kettlebell, a dog leash, a laundry basket, and even other hands!
Grabbing is also considered finger flexion. You grab your keys, food, coffee mug, refrigerator door, money, pens, cell phone etc.
Push- pull split
Ever since I started exercising seriously in high school my gym teacher always told me that what I do to one muscle I must do to its opposite. This is called the push-pull split. So if I do four sets of push-ups I must do four sets of pull-ups. The balanced approach ensures strength and proper posture.
The push-pull split also applies to finger flexion and extension. The proportion of flexion to extension is so uneven that you can’t afford not to implement some of the exercises below on a daily basis. I’m pressed to think of any finger extension that occurs apart from intentional exercise. The only things that come to mind right now are dancing and raising your hand in class.
These four exercises are often recommended for patients that had hand surgery of some sort, but we can certainly utilize them for our purposes. If you employ even one of these exercises once a day you’ll have salubrious hands in no time.
- The rubber band. My dad’s chiropractor taught me this one. Take a thick rubber band and wrap it around the thumb and each finger just below the fingernails. Extend your hand as far as you can and hold it for two Mississippis. Repeat as much as you can. Try four sets. I keep one of these rubber bands in my car and do this exercise while driving.
2. Sand extension. Get some soft sand and fill a bowl or bucket with it. Make sure there’s room enough for your extended hand. Place your hand in the bowl or bucket and extend your hand. Take your hand out of the sand and repeat. Do this as many times as you want for four sets. This is a great exercise to do at work. You’ll come up with all kinds of clever comebacks for people who ask you why you have your hand in a bucket of sand. “Oh, I grew up on a beach. Just feeling nostalgic.
3. Desktop lifts. This does not mean that you lift desktops. Rather, place your hand flat on your desk. Lift each finger off the desk as far as it can go for two Mississppis. Keep your other fingers on the desk. Do this for each finger four times.
4. Powder angels. Get some powdered sugar or baby powder and sprinkle it on your kitchen table or coffee table. Place your hand in the powder with your fingers together. Spread your fingers out as far as they will go and return them to the starting position. Do four sets of 20.
With all of these exercises, exercise both hands simultaneously, except for number one when you are driving. You can do any of these exercises while reading a book, surfing the web, or watching TV. The adroit among us will have a rubber band, a bucket of sand, a desktop and some powder handy at all times.
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Ben is co-creator of technologyinclass.com (currently under construction) and technologyinclass.com/blog, which is concerned with critical issues in pedagogy, educational technology, best practices in teaching, and sundry other topics such as going paperless (every librarians nightmare) and eating well. Please subscribe to Ben’s RSS updates to be, well, updated on the latest content.