Hand Maintenance for the Bodyweight Athlete


Proper hand maintenance plays a big part in your ability to balance.

If you’re into bodyweight training, you’re no doubt spending a lot of time on your hands. But taking proper care of your hands is easy to overlook when you’re focused the rest of your skills. So I’ve put together a Hand Maintenance Protocol, shown in the video below, to help keep your hands in top shape.

Why should we think about our hands?

While we might not normally pay them a lot of attention, your hands are kind of a big deal. In fact, a quarter of the motor cortex in the human brain (the part of the brain that controls all movement in the body) is devoted to the muscles of the hands. That big chunk of the brain is constantly sending and receiving vital information to and from your hands to help you go about your day. In the palm alone, there are some 17,000 touch receptors and free nerve endings for passing on sensations of pressure, movement and vibration. And when those high tech, high five machines are holding you up in a handstand, you’re going to hope that each one of those receptors is working optimally.

Just as with other joints of the body, it’s possible to lose mobility and stability in the joints that make up the hand. After all, you’ve got 29 bones in each one of those bad boys which means there are a whole lot of joints. And if you’re constantly putting all of your bodyweight on them, that could mean lots of opportunity for dysfunction.

Even if you’re not experiencing pain now, there may be trigger points or adhesions in the intrinsic muscles that could be distorting the messages to your motor cortex. A dysfunction of the hand may be creating compensation by other muscles in the arm which can show up as a hurt shoulder, elbow or wrist. As they say, “an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure”. Or it may keep you from falling on your face….either one is good.

What’s our hand strategy?

In the video below, you’ll find our hand maintenance protocol. Similar to the strategy used in the Bodyweight Athlete program for the other areas of your body, we’re going to Release, Mobilize and Activate the muscles and soft tissue of your hands.

Fitch hands

Release

Using a pencil eraser or blunt end of a pen, you’re going to search for areas between the bones that feel sensitive when you apply pressure. Once you discover the sensitive areas, you’ll perform circular, horizontal or longitudinal mini strokes at each point, until the discomfort begins to subside or minimize.

Mobilize

The mobility exercises were chosen to create motion, stability and coordination. When performing the mobility exercises, the goal is to maintain tension throughout the entire hand and forearm as you go through the movements. Just be aware that some of these movements are extremely humbling – you’ve been warned!

Activate

After releasing the muscles and mobilizing the joints, we’re going to work on developing strength. The strengthening exercises can be performed on a table or the ground, using your own bodyweight as resistance.

The Hand Maintenance Protocol: Video Tutorial

Click on the video below to watch the breakdown of each movement and start adding in the hand maintenance protocol to improve you calisthenics training today!