“The bird bird bird, bird is the word,” is a very bad earworm of a song. However, in Western culture, “the finger” (as in giving someone the finger or the bird, also known as the finger wave, the middle finger, flipping someone off, flipping the bird, shooting the bird, the rude finger or the one finger salute) is an obscene hand gesture, often a sign of extreme or moderate contempt. It is performed by showing the back of a closed fist that has only the middle finger engaged, and I seriously doubt when you activate in this gesture you think, “oh, this is my extensor digitorum, and it provides an extension for the medial digits in the hands, and it originates from the lateral epicondyle of the humerus and then segregates down into four sections so that my fingers may move inter-independently and spread them each apart while I simultaneously give the bird.”
Extending the finger(s) is considered a symbol of contempt, at least here. In Ancient Rome, well, I’ll let you do the digging for their interpretation, but for now this finger motion can and will cause contempt in the forearm and can create trigger points. These can send pain down your entire forearm to the back of your hand, and then your finger(s) may feel overworked, leaving you with chronic pain in your hand or tennis elbow if activities are not balanced with stretching, massage, and relaxation exercises. Stretching the flexors of the forearm, wrist and fingers can be easy: for example, extend your wrists and turn your fingers towards your body, placing palms down on the floor (not to be done if you have wrist issues) then gently put weight on the hands and hold for a few breaths. After that, slowly lift the heel of the hand away from the floor, feeling for stretch through the posterior side of the arm and fingers.
So if the bird is your word while you drive anxiously through LA traffic, take note, the bird isn’t the word for this sometimes overused extensor digitorum.