Opposable thumbs are one of the defining characteristics of being human, so it stands to reason that they play a significant role in you being able to do all the things that humans are supposed to be able to do: grab stuff, throw stuff, climb stuff, and bust out the occasional set of push ups.
This video (also embedded below) will explain how to discern whether your thumbs are working for you or against you in the continuing quest for strong, injury-free wrists. If you’d like a little background on how the techniques discussed in the video works, read on!
These are the flexors of your fingers; you’ll notice that they hike on up all the way beyond the elbow joint to the humerus.
These are the flexors of the thumb; you’ll notice that they don’t.
The same thing is also true for the extensors:
With fewer joints to spread over, the thumb has a greater influence on the joints that it does cross. These local attachments—combined with a unique oblique position in the hand—make the thumb weak in flexion and extension but a one-digit army when it comes to providing leverage in rotation. The thumb’s direction of action acts like a switch, preparing the wrist for either external or internal rotation—and we all know how important that is.
And above all remember that the fingers—including the thumb—are first and foremost information gatherers. The finger tips are instruments of astonishing sensitivity, capable of sensing ridges as small as 13 nanometers in amplitude. According to researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, “this means that, if your finger was the size of the Earth, you could feel the difference between houses and cars. A human being can feel a bump corresponding to the size of a very large molecule.”
A molecule, people.
By being smart about how we orient the fingertips under load, we can use that sensitivity to discover new ways of bearing that load comfortably. Enjoy!