There is an old saying that you don’t really know what you have until you lose it. Now – imagine losing your hands. We may take them for granted, and ignore warning signs or overuse them. Let’s not let that happen!


Hands are pretty important bodily features – maybe not as important as eyes or ears – but still very important.

Did you know that one out of three injuries sent to an Emergency Room is related to upper limbs? In the U.S., 25% of all disabling work injuries are to the upper extremities (hands and arms). Also, 25% of athletic injuries involve a hand or wrist. How much do you know about your hands, fingers, wrists, thumbs and nails?

  • Fingers have no muscles. The muscles bending the finger are located in the palm and up to the mid forearm.
  • The wrinkles on the back of fingers show where the skin is attached to the tendon.
  • There are 29 major and minor bones with 29 major joints in a human hand.
  • The thumb is controlled by nine muscles which are controlled by three major hand nerves.
  • 90% of women and 80% of men ages 75-79 have osteoarthritis in their hands.
  • The fingernail has no feeling. Only the skin beneath the fingernail has feeling.
  • The palm skin has no hair and cannot tan.
  • It takes a fingernail six months to grow out from the root to the tip and takes the toenail nearly three times that long.

Most hand exercises are designed not for fitness – but for injury prevention. Try these hand exercises to prevent carpal tunnel injuries.
  • Extend your arm and with the opposite hand, pull your fingers back toward you (gently) one by one. Then pull them all back at once. Repeat 3x and then reverse hands.
  • Pull your thumb down towards your wrist until you feel a gentle stretch. Your wrist will be bent down. Next, make a fist as tight as you can.  Finish by extending your thumb and all your fingers out as far as they will go. Repeat 3x and then reverse hands.
  • Put your palms together, fingers pointing upwards, as if you are praying. Stretch your fingers and press palms together strongly. Keep the base of your palms pressing together, as you gradually lower your hands until your lower arms are horizontal. Next, lower your hands until you feel the stretch. Hold for a few seconds and then repeat 3x.
Two other anti-carpal-tunnel-computer-tips are:
  • Use a split fingered ergonomic keyboard. It will feel awkward for a short while and then you will get used to it. We promise. You will notice that your forearms and wrists no longer tire easily after long hours at a keyboard.
  • Switch your mouse to your non-dominant hand. All mouse buttons can be reversed for left-handed and right-handed people. If you are a righty – pretend you are a lefty and have your mouse on the left side of your keyboard.
People with osteoarthritis have both flexibility and strength challenges with their hands. The Mayo Clinic and WebMD have short slide shows which show people with arthritis how to retain maximum flexibility through exercise.

Hands take a beating and are not only exposed to more weather conditions, but are exposed to more chemicals. Here are a few tips on how to keep your hands and your fingernails healthy.

1. Wash with warm water (not hot) when hands are dirty or after contact with chemicals.
2. Use lotion after washing. Look for the following ingredients in your hand lotion:
  • Retinol to keep the skin moist
  • Peptides to relax muscles and boost collagen production to keep the skin smooth
  • Vitamin C and glycolic acid to help treat age spots, wrinkling and loss of elasticity
  • Alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids to gently exfoliate skin
3. Moisturize your fingernails. Dermatologists recommend rubbing petroleum jelly, vitamin E or cuticle creams into your cuticles at night.
4. Wear sunscreen to prevent skin damage.
5. Watch out for cracks. If you have eczema or severely dry skin, you may get cracks or crevices between your fingers. Try moisturizing first, and seek care from a dermatologist if the situation does not improve.
6. Wear gloves when doing the dishes. This will prevent brittle nails.
7. Don’t buff your nails. Excessive buffing only weakens the nail. If you have ridges, use a ridge filler that temporarily fills in the ridges instead of buffing them out.

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