You connect to the outside world, to your family, even to yourself in many ways, via your fingers and toes. As I type out this post, I feel the keys under my fingertips. I tap my feet on the floor, since I listen to music when I work. Virtually all of your major nerve endings terminate in your hands and feet, which is why the extremities are so sensitive.
If you work with our team in private sessions or via inMOTION Customized Workouts, you are regularly reminded to splay your fingers in push up position. To grip the floor with your toes, to connect to the floor/mat with your palms, not just use the heel of your hand, etc.
When I broadcast workouts via radio and in some corporate and group workouts, I feel like a broken record. Over and over again I remind people to engage the toes and fingertips. This repetition is worth the added attention, and here are three reasons why:
1. The little muscles in the extremities are really little. They receive oxygenated blood last as you start to move. This means that they fatigue easily and are injury prone. Use them and protect them.
2. By consciously engaging your fingers and toes during exercise, you distribute pressure more equally in your arms and legs, which aids in the prevention of wrist, elbow, ankle, and knee injuries. The best example of this is push up or plank position on your hands - 9 out of 10 people press into the floor with just the heel of the hand. This fatigues the wrist and reduces the quality of the push up (or plank).
3. Working from the outside is an effective tool to motivate you to a higher level during regular workouts. The core or center-point of your kinetic chain is vital, but the relentless focus on it can cause right/left and front/back imbalances. Give some thought to the use of your hands and feet as you perform a squat, any move on the floor, or even on a run.
You will feel the difference, and you will look more graceful and achieve better functional results with proper attention paid to your fingers and toes. I promise to keep reminding you!