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Our Hands

Nov 6, 2017

They Come in Handy

Our hands are arguably our most important external body part. Evolutionary sciences say the human hand’s complex, intricate and strong array of movements, such as multi-angle thumb opposition and fine dexterity, are the reasons we’re so advanced as a species. Key in forming language and progressive use of tools, they are the building blocks of modern civilisation. Controlling our hands takes up a quarter of our brain’s movement control centre for the entire body, a large majority. It is made of around 29 bones, 123 ligaments, 34 muscles and 48 nerves, slightly different person to person.

Our hands need that many resources because they are so special. They are strong enough to clasp and press more than average bodyweight in many different angles or against different forces. They are so sensitive that touch and pressure sense (from the finger pads and nerves at the base of the fingernail) can be used by the brain to sense detailed shapes and textures. Our thumb alone can move in 6 directions at just one of its joints, and it is estimated that losing it means losing 60% of the use of your arm.

Many modern requirements and habits, such as working at the computer, prolonged repetitive gripping and twisting, impact sports and excessive gaming can increase your risks of long term hand injury. These chronic injuries and conditions, such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and deQuervain’s syndrome tend to occur because we lose sight of how versatile our hands are. So we forget to move them in many different ways against different manageable loads to keep the whole system of joints healthy, the way nature intended. Gentle wrist stretches, light grip exercise and finger movement will maintain healthy hands, and if the injury or imbalance is too much, see Kyle for a handy checkup at King Street Natural Health Centre (02)46208630.


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