MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: the advantages/disadvantages of performing push-ups with the fingers extend

Date: Tue Mar 8 14:26:55 2005
Posted By: Mark Sullivan, 2nd Year Internal Medicine Resident
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 1109713464.Me

Hi Amy,
   That is an interesting question.  I would say that there are potential 
advantages and disadvanatges to doing push-ups with extended fingers 
versus just on the palms.  People have been doing these for a long time 
anyway in the martial arts, even doing them on as few as 2 fingers(thumb 
and 1st finger).  So what are the advantages?  Well, by keeping the 
fingers extended you would exercise the small flexor and extensor muscles 
of the wrist, hand and fingers as well as your arms, shoulders and pecs.  
How much are you getting out of it, enough to make some sort of difference 
in forearm and hand strength.  What are the diadvantages?  Well you could 
potentially injure the very small ligaments and tendons in the fingers 
resulting in deformity of the fingers.  For example, Boutonniere's 
deformity occurs when the extensor tendon insertion site to the middle 
phalynx is torn(called the central slip).  But this can be repaired 
surgically in most cases.  Most often this injury occurs when an 
outstretched finger is hit tip end on, such as a basketball hitting the 
end if the finger.  For a better explanation and picture see the link 

I would think that squeezing excercises such a a ball in the hand would 
provide enough strengthening without the extended finger pushups.  But in 
the end I think it is up to the person to decide if it works for them or 
not taking into account possible injury that may occur.  Hope this helps 

Mark Sullivan, MD

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