FingerWeights, as the name suggests, are little weights, especially designed for improving one’s finger extension (with 10g up to 90g/finger). Speaking from my expertise as a Strength-Coach and “Heilpraktiker” (Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practitioner) I claim that finger extension is by far one of the most neglected movements in the world of health and sports performance! Nevertheless, in regard of structural balance and overall performance, the training of the finger extensors is of uttermost importance! In this article I’ll show the benevolent reader how and when to integrate FingerWeights in regard of structural balance and more.
FingerWeights – What are these?
Obviously, FingerWeights are little weights for your fingers! But what makes them unique?
In this article I’m focusing on the Therapy Pro Mobile Kit, that comes with 10 so called “Flex Finger Weights” (see picture).
This kit is designed for therapists/coaches/medical professionals who know about structural balance and the importance of not only flexing your finger/hand/forearm, but also to properly extend it!
The Flex Finger Weights are designed to fit any size finger, each unit’s resistance is adjustable in 10-gram increments up to 90 grams per finger with the addition of three “Tungsten resistance rods”.
The kit comes with:
- 10 Flex FingerWeights
- 30 Stainless Steel Resistance Rods (10g each)
- 3 Tungsten Resistance Rods (30g each)
- A light weight transport case that stores the FingerWeights shock proof
- A rod removal tool
- A QR-code for exercise instructions
Extrinsic extensor muscles of the hand
Let’s have a brief anatomical excurse about the extrinsic extensor muscles of the hand.
These “(…)are located in the back of the forearm and have long tendons connecting them to bones in the hand, where they exert their action. Extrinsic denotes their location outside the hand. Extensor denotes their action which is to extend, or open flat, joints in the hand. They include the extensor carpi radialis longus (ECRL), extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB), extensor digitorum (ED), extensor digiti minimi (EDM), extensor carpi ulnaris (ECU), abductor pollicis longus (APL), extensor pollicis brevis (EPB), extensor pollicis longus (EPL), and extensor indicis (EI).” (Wikipedia, 2021).
The most important are:
- Extensor carpi radialis longus: extends, abducts wrist
- Extensor carpi radialis brevis: extends, abducts wrist
- Extensor digitorum: extends fingers, wrist
- Extensor digiti minimi: extends little finger at all joints
- Extensor carpi ulnaris: extends, adducts wrist
- Abductor pollicis longus: abducts, extends thumb
- Extensor pollicis brevis: extends thumb at Metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint
- Extensor pollicis longus: extends thumb at MCP and interphalangeal (IP) joint
- Extensor indicis: extends index finger, wrist
FingerWeights for Structural Balance?
The term “structural balance” was coined by my strength-coach mentor Charles R. Poliquin (aka the “Strength Sensei”). It describes an optimal interaction of muscles involved in movement in general (like an economical gait) or while performing a specific task (like grapping, pulling, pushing etc.).
Just to give you an idea, here are some numbers that are considered to be “optimal” when it comes to compared lifts:
- Front Squat: 85% of back squat
- Preacher Curls: 40% of flat bench press
- Military Press (standing, strict): 45% of back squat
- Power Clean: 68 % of back squat
Unfortunately, to my knowledge, there are no numbers (yet) for structural balance that show an “optimal” ratio between forearm/finger flexion and extension.
So, what’s the point of structural balance, considering forearm/finger strength?
Well, in general, grip strength is already a neglected and overlooked aspect in strength training.
Training the finger EXTENSORS, however, is maybe something you have never observed in a commercial studio, or elsewhere.
To be honest, chances of seeing someone training his finger extensors might be higher than seeing Big Foot!
Even Strength Coaches on an elite level hardly take finger-extensor training into consideration.
Why? I cannot answer this question. Maybe, because nowadays people tend to rather consume information than producing it. You learn some stuff from a coach and pass it on, without critically questioning these information.
As content is nothing without context, I’d like to explain why I think finger extensor training is as important as any other extensor muscle training in your body.
Grip strength is super important, in pretty much any sport performance. But with gripping power (finger/forearm flexion) you should also develop proper forearm extension strength!
Otherwise your forearms/fingers will eventually suffer from structural disbalance. You might be able to close your hand properly but opening it and especially extending all fingers might cause problems.
This one-sided movement pattern might not only result in structural disbalance, but also cause “issue in the tissue”, i.e. trigger points in the tendons, adhesions in the fascia and much more.
Then the “downward spiral” starts, as the mentioned issues above might cause even more movement restriction, pain, inflammation etc.
So, in a nutshell, not training one’s finger/forearm extensors is like not training your tibialis anterior (a muscle of your shin, that is commonly neglected in training). It is, as we say in German, “only half of the rent”. Therefore, not good for anything!
If you want to learn how to train your tibialis anterior, you can do so in my article about the Tib Bar (coming soon).
A matter of strength curves
The company writes:
“FingerWeights apply the basic principles of progressive resistance training as a means to increase gentle range of motion, endurance, flexibility, dexterity, precision, and overall strength. The Flex Model provides proprioceptive and kinesthetic input so the person can better sense the position of their fingers and the movement of their fingers. Along with the more obvious health and wellness aspects, athletes looking for that edge will also benefit from utilizing FingerWeights (Flex). Whether it’s better ball control in baseball, or improved handles and shooting in basketball, FingerWeights hone in on the fine motor muscles in the fingers and hands to help maximize overall performance” (FingerWeigths, 2021).
FingerWeights do come in different options: As the “Original” and the “Flex” version. Of course you do not always have to buy a complete kit, but can purchase single ones, too.
But, in this article, I’m going to focus on the “Therapy Pro Mobile Kit”.
The bands are designed to fit any size finger, each unit’s resistance is adjustable in 10-gram increments up to 90 grams per finger with the addition of the 3 Tungsten resistance rods.
Insert pic with FW on hand
So what makes these little weights unique? Well, I’ll tell you what. If you’re looking for a ways to train your finger/forearm extensors, you probably stumbled upon this article.
Probably you also have done some research on the topic and found conventional methods of training finger extensors, with rubber band devices, like the “Handmaster Plus” (see picture below).
Don’t get me wrong, these bands are not bad. But, considering “strength curves”, they work entirely different than FingerWeights, which are like super small dumbbells.
To explain the difference, we’ll have to look at something that is called “strength-“ or “resistance curves”.
By the way, this will teach you thinking in principles, as these strength curves apply generally to the whole body, and not only to working out your fingers/forearm extensors.
When you use a band, the force you need to apply will increase exponentially, as the resistance will increase (exponentially) the more you pull the band.
If you use FingerWeights, on the contrary, their strength curve applies to the laws of gravity. The strength vector will always point perpendicular to the floor, even if you lift the finger, due to gravity.
This has the advantage that you can decide whether and how much force you want to apply on each individual finger, whereas with a band you’ll have to extend harder and harder, the more you extend a finger!
Using FingerWeights (as shown in the picture/exercise below), the strength-curve would be more “bell-shaped”, with the greatest resistance at a 90° angle, when the finger is parallel to the floor/table.
If you continue to ascend your finger, the resistance curve descends, as the strength you’ll have to use (to lift the finger up) will decrease.
Always keep in mind, that, by using a dumbbell (in this case the FingerWeight), the force of gravity will always point perpendicular to the ground, due to gravity (see picture)!
FingerWeights and Esports
So, maybe you have heard about the multi-million/-billion dollar industry of professional gaming, called “Esports”. If not, you will find plenty of info about it on the internet.
For all of you who already know about the topic but want to learn more about it, I’d recommend my article: “Strength and Conditioning Training for Esports”.
In this article I’ll explain why grip- and neck-strength, as well as “electromechanical delay” are important for increasing an Esport-Athlete’s performance!
While I explain in detail how to improve this performance in the linked article I’d like to add here, that training your finger extension will boost your Esport performance even more.
This makes sense, as a movement in the finger does not only acquire someone to hit a key on a keyboard (which is finger-flexion) but also to lift one’s fingers (which is finger-extension) to reach another key, or to hit a key again.
Therefore, not only training your finger flexion, but also focusing on your finger-extension is super important to increase your “typing-“, respectively “key-hitting” speed.
In my opinion FingerWeights have the advantage of micro-adjusting weights, from 10-90g/finger. This will give an Esport Athlete the possibility to increase the weight for finger extension, without messing up his “movement pattern”.
As I already wrote in 2020:
“Being a pro esport gamer requires you being able to process information as fast as possible to make the winning move! That means that it is not only some typing on a keyboard and scrolling around with the cursor of your mouse. It is about the speed of information ßàreaction time! How fast can you absorb, realize, interpret your esport related environment (game) AND how fast you can take action!” (Stößlein, 2020).
When would I integrate them in a training program?
Ok, now it’s time to answer the question: “How do you integrate FingerWeights” into a strength-training workout.
It’s not always easy to answer a question in a general manner. But, I’d recommend the following:
If it is structural balance you’re aiming for, you could simply integrate finger extensor training into your grip-training session.
For example as an agonist-antagonist training.
Let’s say as a D1 and D2 exercise, performed immediately after each other.
D2: FingerWeights Finger extension
Both could be performed either on a separate “grip-strength-day” or at the end of any other workout.
If you don’t have time at the end of a workout you can even integrate your finger extensor training in the evening, while watching TV or at the office, during a little break.
Simply grab a Lacrosse ball (can be bought for under 6 EUR/$). With this you can perform grip strength (finger/forearm flexion) and finger extension with your FingerWeights at once, respectively in a “superset”.
Just grab and squeeze the Lacrosse ball as hard as you can, then extend each finger individually without lifting the other fingers from the ball.
You will be surprised how hard it is, i.e. to only lift your ring finger without extending other fingers as well!
FingerWeights Therapy Pro Mobile Kit Conclusion
In a nutshell, FingerWeights are an easy to use and affordable method to reach structural balance in your forearms. Training finger extensors is a very rare thing to do, even amongst professional athletes.
But that should not scar you from implementing finger extensor training into your routine. From my expertise, I’ll state that this – if done correctly – will only improve your output.
No matter if you like to improve sport specific tasks, your daily routine or to improve your rehabilitation.
Having an instrument like a hand (which is a super complicated “tool”) is something we should be thankful for. Why then only train one half of it with grapping?! Take your life to the fullest and learn how to properly extend every single finger.
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Extrinsic extensor muscles of the hand, source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extrinsic_extensor_muscles_of_the_hand, access, 31.8.21.
FingerWeights, Athletics, source: https://fingerweights.com/pages/athletics, access from: 1.9.21.
Stößlein, 2020, Strength and Conditioning Training for Esports, source: https://www.bernd-stoesslein.de/2020/08/28/strength-and-conditioning-training-for-esports/, access from 1.9.21.