Study: Fingers Increase 10-Fold in Strength

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“Don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” - Bruce Lee

Note: This article was published on April Fools' Day 2016. It is a satire. Enjoy...

Let’s start this week’s article with a little trivia: How many muscles do we have in our fingers? Take a guess…

Did you guess 10 or 20? Or some other multiple of 10? That would be a good strategy. We have 10 fingers (including our thumbs) and there are some number of muscles per finger, right?

Or, perhaps you know bone structure well, and you know that there are 14 finger bones in each hand (three in each finger, two in the thumb). So, maybe two times 14 or 28?

The answer, however, is zero. We have no muscles in our fingers.

Our fingers type on keyboards, hold chopsticks, grasp barbells, and play the guitar using muscles that are located in our palms and forearms. These muscles are connected to a series of tendons and ligaments that move our fingers. But there are no muscles in our fingers (or thumbs).

Pretty weird, huh? Well, given the importance of having skilled fingers for our work productivity, athletic ability, and day-to-day life in general, we wanted to see if this was always the case with our ancestors and if there was any way to change this in the future.

Devolution of Muscles Over Time
The Homo habilis species inhabited the earth about two million years ago. According to the Smithsonian Human Origins Institute, the species' name comes from the Latin words for “handy man” because it was the first maker of stone tools. While the species had approximately half the brain capacity of today’s Homo sapiens species (which in Latin means “wise man”), it had a tremendous capacity for using its fingers to manipulate objects… and it had to in order to survive.

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Researchers at the National Hand Institute (NHI) believe that there was something very unique about this species: it had muscles in its fingers. As brain capacity increased, however, the need for finger muscles was no longer vital and they were eliminated from the body.

Flyte Fitness - NHI Joint Research
Last fall, we began a partnership with the NHI as it analyzed data on the evolutionary changes of the skeletal muscle structure of human hands since the period of the Homo habilis species. We wanted to see if it was possible to build muscles in fingers today.

Our joint study, which will be published in Scientific American later the month, identified ways to extend the muscles at the base of our hands into our fingers, providing a significant improvement in the strength and mobility of human fingers without sacrificing dexterity.

The research was conducted over a six-week period and included 75 active adults at NHI’s research lab in Bethesda, Maryland. Each participant did a series of Core Flyte exercises that involved controlling the stability training tools with one finger at a time.

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The goal was to use Core Flytes to help transition the driver of the movement from the palm and forearm areas (where the hand muscles are located) to the tips of the fingers. With each successive session, participants gradually relocated the focus of their exercises from their palms to the end of their fingers. Since Core Flytes require significant control and stability, our hypothesis was that over time the muscles would extend into the fingers.

After a six-week period, NHI used electromyography (EMG) to measure muscle activity and growth. We found that 67 of the participants had developed muscles in at least one finger, with 14 subjects developing muscles that went into all five digits on one hand.

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The fingers with fully-developed muscle tissue were 12 times stronger at flexion (squeezing – think “fist bump”) and 10 times stronger at extension (opening up the hands – think “high-five”). We see tremendous potential for improving strength and mobility that would benefit fitness and productivity.

Muscular Digit Optimization
While it can be very useful for all five digits to have muscle tissues, our research findings to date indicate that fewer than 20 percent of people can achieve that level of enhancement. That begs the question: “Which digit(s) should receive the most attention when using the Core Flyte finger muscle enhancement treatment?”

Thumb: Most evolutionary scientists would contend that our thumb has incredible value. Because it is opposable (it can be placed opposite the fingers on the same hand), the thumb allows us to grasp. Try doing some thumb-free curls or chin-ups and you’ll miss the thumb quickly!

Index Finger: Separating itself from the other digits, the index finger is used for pointing. It also plays an important role in activities requiring precision, such as writing, drawing, or performing surgery.

Middle Finger: Of course this digit is used to make an offensive gesture in some cultures, including in the U.S. In other countries, it is termed "the tall finger.” It’s the longest and often widest finger, which gives it the ability to take on more load and push with more force.

Ring Finger: This finger looks great with a ring on it, but it is considered the least useful of all the fingers. It is attached to the same tendon as the powerful middle finger. As a result, it doesn’t have much control. To demonstrate this, try lifting up each finger at a time (without assistance from other fingers). You’ll find that you can do it quite easily for all digits… except the lowly ring finger.

Pinky Finger: Although it is the smallest finger, it is positioned on the end of the hand which gives it a larger range of motion versus its fellow finger companions. This can be useful for assisting movements involving rotation.

We will be sharing more information on our findings in the weeks leading up to the publication of the Scientific American study, including what Core Flyte exercises were used to develop the finger muscle tissue and tips for focusing on building up muscles within specific fingers.

We’d love to hear from you. What do you find most exciting about these findings? Which finger muscles would you want to develop most? Comment below or on our Facebook page or tweet us at @flytefitness.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, published on April 1st (wink, wink).

Be Flyte Fit,

Jeremy Greenberg
Co-Founder & CEO
Flyte Fitness

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