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Thread: fingertip pushups

  1. #1
    brucelee2 Guest

    fingertip pushups


    I am hoping some TCM students/practictioners can give me insight into this question. A little while ago on one of the other forums people were stating that they had been told that fingertip pushups, either regular or 'hindu' style, can lead to blindness/vision problems because they overstimulate the conglomeration of accupressure points located at the tips of the fingers. Can someone please tell me whether or not there is any truth to this?


  2. #2
    Chris McKinley Guest
    Hi gary,

    Long before fingertip pushups will manifest adverse reaction from a qi perspective, they will deplete and erode the sinovial bursa of the joints of the fingers themselves. This practice has little to nothing to do with the ability to fight well. It is also a tradition more associated with the Buddhist practices of Shaolin than the Taoist tenets which define TCM.

    The fingertips are important in the body's energy system not so much for the number of points to be found there (typically one or two), but for their role as energy gates for the body. Another example is the laogong points of the palms. These points are technically Pericardium 8 points, but their function is far more important as the chief energy releasing gates of the body, such as in healing qigong practice.

    The hands are also a major fractal representation of the body. That is, they represent in miniature a map of the body as a whole. This concept is most well-known in Reflexology, but is actually better developed in TCM. As such, the fingertips of the index and middle fingers are associated with the eyes. This is especially true of the middle finger, with its connection to the Liver meridian, since that is the meridian most responsible for eye health.

    The abuse of the meridian, as well as the fingers, is theoretically able to result in poor energetic health to the corresponding anatomy. This basic principle is what occurs in a Dim-Mak strike, for instance. However, as I mentioned, you will cause mechanical damage to the related structures long before the energy system is permanently affected.

    There are no muscles in the fingers themselves, and therefore none of the hydrostatic cushion that muscle tissue provides the larger joints. In addition, the structure of the fingers is much like a cam mechanism in operation. The finger joints are easily de-stabilized, ala finger Chin Na techniques, and are very susceptible to shear force strain when doing finger pushups. This is not a function for which creation/evolution/the tooth fairy designed them. Support is a job for the palm heel rather than the fingertips.

    Proponents of finger pushups will say that it builds strength and callouses in the fingers. The first point is erroneous for the aforementioned reason of there being absolutely no muscle in the fingers themselves. As for callouses, yes, it will build callouses. But not any more than playing the guitar will. And besides, callouses do absolutely nothing toward helping to stabilize the structure of the finger joints themselves, which is the primary problem in finger pushups.

    The unfortunate truth is that one could achieve identical or even superior development of the fingers for fighting purposes (without risk of debilitating injury) by doing two things: building callouses on a musical instrument or even through gardening or carpentry, and building the appropriate muscles of the forearms through heavy resistance exercise such as dumbbell forearm curls and weighted pully rows.

    Even without risk to both the mechanical and energetic parts of the body, those who practice finger pushups would have their time better spent learning to fight, IMO

  3. #3
    Kung Lek Guest


    When someone thinks of "pushups" in general, the goal is to lift ones own body weight by using the arms,shoulders and pectoral muscles. When done repetitively, strength is increased proportionately in these muscles groups.

    When fingertip pushups are done, it is not to strengthen the fingers (because as chris has stated, there are no muscles to build in the fingers), it is done to increase the strength of the muscles that wrap through the hand and connect to the forearm.

    control over the grip is strengthened because the muscles in the hand are strengthened.
    There shouldn't be any callouses built up in the fingers, this is not required and it's not necessary.

    There are gripping exercises in Kung fu regimens that also increase aspects of this type of hand strength.

    fingertips pushups with the fingers bridged instead of bowed back will be easier on the fingers in the long run and detereation of the structural strength of the fingers will not be an issue.

    doing the fingertip pushups with the bones bending back IS detremental to the health of the hand because this is an unatural direction for the fingers to be in. Also it applies pressure to the connective muscles of the hand and does not supply pressure but rather pulls at the muscle where it connects finely to the bone structure.

    When the fingers are bridged, the bone is strong enough to support the body weight and the muscles gain strength.

    one could entirely forego fingertip pushups and instead do gripping exercises to achieve the same desired result.

    Also, the repitions are considerably lower when doing fingertip pushups with the fingers bridged.
    usually not more than 10 pushups. The exercises is related to much smaller muscles after all.

    i would not recommend doing them (fingertip p-ups) except in context to Nei Kung exercises.

    doing fingertip pushups for the sake of lifting you body with your small bones is a waste of time and I'm certain it has caused numerous injuries and undue damage.


    Kung Lek

  4. #4
    brucelee2 Guest
    Thanks for the responses guys. I'm a little dissappointed- I understand that Bruce Lee had forearms the size of small motor homes and I read in his books that he was big on fingertip pushups- he gradually worked down to doing them with only his thumbs. I was looking forward to having Popeye forearms too but it doesn't look like its worth the risk. Also, Bruce originally did Wing Chun, which I believe makes massive use of forearms, wheareas I think they're less central to Bagua, the art I practice.


  5. #5
    Kung Lek Guest
    gripping exercises and tiger claw opening and closing will send you on your way to solid forearm musculature.

    as well, gripping isotonically will aid this.

    here is a quick exercise that will improve grip and forearm strength in a fairly short tie. and as well you feel it working amnd it's results almost immediately.

    open your hand fully and close it to a fist 100 times in 30 seconds.

    increase the amount of times you open and close gradually and shorten the time from more openings and closings.

    feels wicked eh?

    here is another, tie a weight to a string and tie the weighted string to a small wooden rod like a simple Tai chi ruler.

    reel the weight in from the floor until the string is fully wrapped around the rod, then reel it out one roll at a time.
    This will increase wrist strength, grip strength and forearm strength.

    also, learning a tiger system of kung fu will give you good strong forearms.
    You're other alternative is to go work on a fishing vessel for a couple of years. You will come back with Huge arms matey i gaurantee it! eck eck ecke ecke hahaha.


    Kung Lek

  6. #6
    Chris McKinley Guest
    Hi gary,

    You must not know your Bagua yet. ;) Learned anything about Tiao, bridging sensitivity, or Rou Shou yet?

    If, for whatever reason, your goal is simply to build more powerful forearms, there is absolutely nothing better than high-intensity (75-90% of one-repetition maximum) resistance exercises specifically for the forearms. These would include curls and reverse curls with dumbbells, barbells, and/or EZ-Curl bar as well as weighted pully rows, pulldowns, and/or forearm weight machines.

    Powerful grip strength is an important contributor to fighting. However, please do not make the classic mistake of disproportionately, or worse yet, only, developing the forearms. This can lead to injury due to uneven shear force strain on the muscles of the forearm and injury of the relatively weaker brachioradialis, biceps, triceps, and deltoid muscle groups. Remember, no muscle is an island, to borrow the phrase.

  7. #7
    denali Guest
    Don't you guys think that doing fingertip pushups is just another example of training more than one thing at a time?

    Yes, you can strengthen the forearm muscles in other ways, but if you incorporate it into your pushups, you essentially are doing more in a shorter time pectorals, shoulders, triceps, *and* forearms..

    just a thought.

  8. #8
    Chris McKinley Guest
    You may be doing those things to a small degree, but you are doing none of them very effectively. Pushups, even those of the flat-hand variety, are a poor way to develop the muscles of the pectorals and deltoids, and are nearly useless for developing the forearms. The best one can do is develop a bit more than just "tone" in those muscles with that exercise. The reason for this is simple adaptation. The muscles will increase in the cross-section of their fibers, a process called hypertrophy, and therefore grow to a size where they can handle the load without needing further adaptation. That is, they will only get as strong as they need to be in order to do what is being asked of them.

    Since the level of resistance is fixed from day one, namely, the weight of your body, the adaptation occurs rapidly and just as rapidly plateaus. And this is the best that can be expected of flat-hand pushups. Fingertip pushups will result in even less development in these same muscles, as joint stress tolerance in the finger bones is depleted long before hypertrophy-inducing stress is placed on the large muscle groups of the chest especially. Another factor that makes fingertip pushups a poor choice for forearm development is that the level of muscular overload placed on the muscles of the forearm is far less than that which is sufficient to induce significant hypertrophy in the dense, predominantly red fiber-rich muscles of the forearm.

    The forearms can handle a surprisingly heavy amount of weight before they are even challenged. In the vast majority of males, this level far exceeds that which is placed on those muscles during ANY kind of pushup. And without progressive overload, no muscle will experience hypertrophy, or growth in size.

    I stand by my previous recommendation of other methods, and my discouragement of finger pushups. The return is miniscule compared to other methods, and the risks run from mildly irritating to crippling injury from either joint failure or joint erosion. Bottom line is, why work twice as hard for half the results and risk losing proper hand function in the process?

  9. #9
    phantom Guest
    Would it be better to do the finger pushups against a wall instead of on the floor?

  10. #10
    Repulsive Monkey Guest


    It would be best to do no push ups at all. Push ups are a very limited exercise, and are purely external in their useage. The general contraction of Bicep and Triceps muscles in general can have a blocking effect on any of the arm merdians especially the Heart and Lung channels. Finger tip push ups would be exceedlingly unhealthy as a) there is a greater chance of causing skeletal damage to the Meta-carpal Phalanxes. b) great chance of damaging the Nail points of all the arm meridians or even blocking them c) such a limited exercise.

  11. #11
    Johnny Hot Shot Guest

    Push ups are Fine!

    What are you guys saying?! Not to do pushups? I've been doing pushups for years and I'm in excellent shape I've never had any problems from them. In fact they have helped me in many ways in almost every sport I do and in my MA Training. Don't over analise the Push up they are fine.

  12. Thumbs up

    "What are you guys saying?! Not to do pushups? I've been doing pushups for years and I'm in excellent shape I've never had any problems from them. In fact they have helped me in many ways in almost every sport I do and in my MA Training. Don't over analise the Push up they are fine."

    You said that.
    The sunsetīs setting down.Lay me on the forest floor.

    I do not necessarily stand behind all of the statements I have made in the past, in this forum. Some of the statements may have appeared to support a biased view of reality, and may have been offensive. If you are a moral person and were hurt by comments that I made, you can PM me about it and I will apologize if I find your cause reasonable.
    -FC, summer of 2006-

  13. #13
    johnny hot shot is right.

    are you people implying that push ups should not be done.
    they've improved my game ,endurance and strength considerabely.
    they might not be of any use from a holistic medatative perspective. but for fighting as far as I am concerned they are a valuable asset to training.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    it's all about moderation

    Any exercise, if over down, can be harmful. When it comes to fingertip pushups, I train a special pattern called Mao pa (cat creeps) which I outlined in an article in our May Jun 2002 issue.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #15
    I plan on mastering fingertip pushups, they impress me. I understand many people have concerns with them.

    Acupuncture/pressure/chi I can't really comment on, I don't know anything about that, or if it applies.

    As for bone structure, that is definately a big concern. I need my fingers for typing, grabbing, a lot of things. I don't want to be grippled. That's something to be avoided.

    One thing we can probably all agree upon is that this is an advanced exercise, and should probably be supplementary to other things.

    Right now, I'm working on chins/pulls (including fingertip sorta where I hold a beam), farmer's walks, deadlifts, hand grippers and handstand. These seem like much more controlled and less dangerous forms of exercises.

    Doing shrugs and wrist curls sounds good too, as well as that Formulator device, inch dumbbell, tearing phonebooks, and those Gyroscope balls they sell look very intense.

    After all this, hand strengthening/hardening can come. Anyone without a master of this training them should be doing preliminary things like I mentioned to make sure they're prepared and won't be as likely to be injured, right?

    As for how to train them, I'm not sure. Wouldn't it make sense to try all sorts of different grips? Bridge, bent back, straight, eagle claw, and one I even though of is ON the fingernails. That'd compress your hand a lot but maybe it'd work your extensor muscles?

    That's another thing, extensor muscles. Those are really hard to figure out how to train. Real handy if someone ever grabs your hand around the fingers and tries to break them, probably.

    All I've ever seen is rubber bands for this. One other I heard of was sticking your hand in sand/rocks packed tight (and possibly closed over) and then you open your hand and lift heavy weights that way.

    I can't help but think of some complicated apparatus of loops to go around the finger (3 per finger, to allow more weight by spreading it over the joints) and then tying weight plates to it.

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