I recently wrote a blog on the extensor digitorum, the muscle that creates extension for the medial digits in the hands. When this muscle is ignored, it can cause issues in your tissues. Your wrist, hand, and digits can become tight with trigger points, especially since these parts of our body live in an internally rotated world. Our hands and fingers have become comfortable in the ‘claw’ position rather than fully extending which is what they need after sitting at a computer keyboard, or using a mouse.
In this video below, Jill Miller is doing a Yoga Tune Up® exercise called Piano Fingers. She is extending each digit one at a time to strengthen and lengthen the digits, giving the digits purpose so they can work independently without relying on other muscle groups to do the work for them.
Here is the exercise: Standing or sitting, palms face up. Extend your fingers like you are giving the sky or ceiling a high five. Then flex (bend) each finger in towards your palm, pinky, ring, middle, index, thumb. Repeat. Then you will reverse this exercise by starting with extending your fingers, thumb, index, middle, ring and pinky finger. Repeat. See if you can get some pace in the exercise. If you do a lot of work on your hands it is good to get articulation through each finger.
Read more on other benefits of the Piano Fingers exercise
Watch the QuickFix Hand/Wrist/Elbow Video
Check out pain relief solutions for your hands and wrists
oh, I found this blogpost today – and I like so much the piano fingers exercise! So easy and effective! Thank you.
Wow, this is great. Having recently suffered a significant wrist injury, the path to recovery feels challenging. I just did the exercise and immediately felt… a bit sore! As I add this to my daily “must do’s,” I’ve no doubt the strength will return. Thanks!
I have great grip strength, but that really has left me imbalanced in my hands. Which has led to pain in my fingers, wrists, and forearms. By including the video clip you have provided my with a new method of recovering balance in my hanks. Thanks so much!
Thanks for the reminder to work the fingers…. need that 🙂 thanks ~ Peace
Yes palms up please! Who does this after typing away all day on our technological devices all day? I can wait to begin this to my students, most of who are on computers all day at work and need some balance in their hands and forearms. Thanks!
wow…really fantastic information! and really love the video, thank so much for including it! I do have some clients that Ill give this to. they are definitely living in “claw ville” and as a result have issues with anything weight bearing on hands from simple cat/cow to planks and down dogs.
I am always looking for new hand exercises to use with students and this is a great one. It’s surprisingly tricky at first. I find it more difficult on the right side and maybe that’s because I fractured my right wrist two years ago and haven’t gained complete mobility back. I love the brain and movement connection. Waking up parts of our hands that haven’t been used or asked to be moved in certain ways that go against habitual behaviors. I’ll be practicing this one on my own.
This is a great exercise for knitters who over use their hands and do not know when to take a break. It is hard to remember to stop every 20 minutes to give your hands and body rest and a different movement when knitting because it is so rhythmic and enjoyable.
However, it is well worth it to take the time to do piano fingers for a few minutes.
I am excited as a dental hygienist to bring this technique and many others I’ve seen on the YTU blog to dental professionals to help them relief pain and discomfort in there tried hands (and other body parts) !!!!! Many of the elderly group I teach yoga to would benefit from this with their arthritic hands .Oh the people I’ll be able to help…… endless!
This was a nice piece to share with my contractor, a guy who is 63 yrs old and been swinging a hammer for at least forty years, not to mention, jamming fingers, working in all kinds of weather, and all the little bumps and bruises his hands have had over the years. He just told me yesterday he was noticing that his hands are stiffening. I started him with ball rolling in the back, chest arms and hand, and gave him some nice YTU stretching but I will also recommend this blog and video. Thanks for the connection!
Talk about an overused area of the body. I found a blind spot while doing Dancing With Myself ,feels like a shortening in the tendons in the 3rd and 4th digit. Piano Fingers, here I come. Thanks.
Wow, I never fred this exercise in reverse. I’m amazed at how difficult it is and my fingers haven’t given me much to complain about. Great way to connect in a different way and also pass on to clients who do have issues.
Thank you, I’m excited to pass this along to a client of mine with trigger finger and a ton of wrist pain.
This is what I love about Yoga Tune Up. I keep discovering new ways to treat the body. Seeing as I sit at a computer all day I will definitely be adding this to me repertoire. Thanks for this!
This is a great blog. I don’t think we focus enough on digits or extremities. this is a great exercise to prevent or improve carpal tunnel syndrome. Occasionally, we get the yoga student who can’t flatten out their hands to the floor. This would be great work to try and find more space in the forearms and range of motion in the fingers! thanks for posting!
I am so glad I found this blog. I teach exercise to people with Parkinson’s disease and I think this exercise with the fingers will be a great addition to my repertoire. I never thought moving my digits would be so challenging. It’s amazing to me how often we neglect one of the smaller parts of us that do so much for us. Thanks!
What a great, simple exercise to wake up a part of our body that we use constantly, yet we ignore to give any attention to! I like to queue my yoga classes to pay attention to the extremities of their bodies (carpals & tarsals) and this will be a good little exercise to try.
Great way to release stiffness in the hands..cool as it can be done anywhere..Thanks!
Fantastic! Explored the feet during yoga tune up training today, so thought I would search out the hands. What a simple but effective way to relieve tension in the hands and articulate the fingers. I can think of 3 separate people who would benefit from this directly: anyone spending a lot of time at a keyboard (me right now!), my senior chair yoga clients who grip their hands/fingers around walkers and canes to move about their day and last but not least my son before his piano exam next week – a great little warm up and way to release tension in the hands before making beautiful music with them! Thanks for the info!
Great way to wake up another part of the body that is often neglected. As an indoor cycle instructor, I notice my student’s hand are gripping the handle bars during class – especially during a hard hill! This will encourage mobility back into the hands and perhaps their hands will be more on their minds as they ride to improve the tension that builds in general.
I love this! I’m always looking for something for the distal end of my students practise. I have been playing with feet stuff but getting them into the reverse of typing by moving their hand away from flexion, and internal shoulder rotation is such an eye opener. I am so inspired by this knowledge. Bring it on, but with an inverted and upside down key board please so that I may type in external rotation!
Just another brilliant look at our blindspots! I’m curious how you feel about doing PNFs on finger extensors, and if you have any recommended positions from which to do that?
Amazingly challenging! I always talk to my students of the connection between shoulder injury and eventual possibility of wrist injury (from proximal to distal), but I never thought to do finger TuneUp in the event of elbow or shoulder injury (from distal to proximal). Good food for thought! I will be sure to implement this with my students, especially my corporate groups who are professional desk jockeys.
As a master kettlebell instructor my hands, extensors and flexors, take a beating. For our fitness folks strength symmetry in the hands, wrists and forearms can be the difference maker on a new deadlift or chin up record. We must have strong, conditioned hands for Olympic lifting, gymnastics and even many yoga poses. Another often neglected section of the incredible machine brought to our awareness by yoga tune up. My question is are there similar techniques like this that can be easily practised for the feet too?
As a dancer I’m required to ‘flex’ my hands often and recently I’ve been having a lot of trouble, even getting pain on the tops of my hands. My fingers don’t seem to want to come towards my forearm without starting to curl…sounds a lot like the claw to me. I’ll give this exercise a go and see if it makes a difference. Thanks for sharing the video!
I had fun laughing at how awkward I felt doing what I thought would be a simple exercise. It took quite a bit of concentration to accomplish this. I teach antigravity yoga and I find that too many of the 1st time participants struggle with weak digits. They struggle with being able to hold on to the hammock for any length of time. They usually are surprised at how weak their fingers are.
I will add in this simple exercise at the the beginning of classes to add to our warm up.
Thanks for the great blog
Excellent! A way to combat the ‘claw’. For one of the most used parts of the body, your hands ending up missing their share of TLC.
This seems like a great way to relieve chronic tension held in the whole of my hand from using a mouse and keyboard all day.
Plus, I can do it anywhere, even while I’m walking to the washroom.
I love it when mobility work can be combined to another necessary activity!