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Give Yourself a Hand

To your trove of anatomy facts, append knowledge of an often undervalued body part.

The next time you pick up a dumbbell and hand it to your client, take a moment to celebrate the hard‐working hand. The hand is an anatomically refined dynamo that's often taken for granted until something as benign as a paper cut shifts the focus distally. Here are some interesting facts to grasp:

  • There are no muscles in your fingers. Muscles in the palm and forearm connect to the finger bones by tendons, which pull and move the fingers "marionette-style" (Eaton 2017).
  • The hand has approximately 27 bones, 29 joints and 123 ligaments (Eaton 2017; Informed Health Online 2016).
  • One‐fourth of athletic injuries involve the hand and/or wrist (Eaton 2017).
  • Each hand is controlled by the opposite hemisphere of the brain (Informed Health Online 2016).
  • The wrinkles and creases in the finger joints remain only if the joints move. If you stop moving a finger joint, the creases will eventually flatten out (Swisher et al. 2015).

Lori Chaplin, MA, owner of Sol Gym Personal Training Fitness Center, in San Francisco and San Diego, is interested in another important hand‐health issue: osteoarthritis. She feels that fitness professionals need to be more cognizant of wear and tear over time and do things to mitigate damage to their hands, if possible.

"I had no idea hurting like this was not only possible, but most assuredly likely," says Chaplin, who has trained for more than 30 years. "I have prided myself on having strong hands, and I still have above‐average strength. However, I have daily pain, drop everything and will eventually need surgery in my thumbs. Had I been aware of what was to come, I might have made more‐informed choices. Specifically, I would have opted for a suicide grip for pushing exercises and a double overhand grip for pulling exercises, and I might have chosen not to always hand the dumbbells to clients."

Welcome to IDEA Body Lab!

Each issue, this new column will highlight an unusual or esoteric fact about the body, along with clear, expert advice about its relevance to fitness professionals. If you'd like to share a fun fact about anatomy, biomechanics or one of the body's main systems, contact IDEA executive editor Joy Keller, [email protected]


Eaton, C. 2017. Hand facts and trivia. Accessed Feb. 16, 2017. www.eatonhand.com/hw/facts.htm.

Informed Health Online. 2016. How does the hand work? Accessed Feb. 16, 2017. www

Swisher, L., & Patton, K. 2015. Study Guide for Anatomy & Physiology (9th ed.). St. Louis: Elsevier Mosby.


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