There’s no doubting that your hands are one of the most vital parts of your body, and seriously how would you manage without them, but what are the most important things to know about your hands? I’ve looked into the construction, how they work and explored some non-body avenues in my quest to find you the most interesting things to know about your hands. Please read on and enjoy.
1. They Make Us Different
The human hand is almost unique in the animal kingdom, only apes’ hands have a similar structure. And, one of the things to know about your hands is the thing that sets us (and the apes) apart from other animals with paws/hands: our opposable thumbs. This means that our thumbs and fingers can work together, enabling us to do a huge number of far more complicated and sophisticated things with our hands than other species. (P.S. Koala bears also have opposable thumbs.)
2. It’s All in the Structure
The hand is a complicated prehensile structure of bones, tendons and nerves. It’s basically built in 3 sections: the palm (the opposite side is called the opisthenar); the heel; and the fingers and thumb. One of the facts about hands that generally everyone knows is the names of the fingers, which are: the index finger (aka the forefinger); the middle finger; the ring finger; and the little finger.
3. Dem Bones, Dem Bones
There are 27 bones in the human hand. There are also numerous tiny sesamoid bones – which differ in number person to person – that appear in the hand’s tendons. Of the 27 bones, 8 are the carpals (the wrist bones), 5 metacarpals which connect the fingers to the wrist and the 14 phalanges of the thumb and fingers. To make them all knit together, there are 29 joints and at least 123 named ligaments.
4. A Matter of Muscles
Like the rest of the human body’s moving parts, the functions of the hand are defined by muscular movements. The hand has 2 main sets of muscles (including the tendons that support them). These are the flexor muscles and the extensor muscles. The flexor muscles are connected to the underside of the forearm and bend the fingers and thumbs. The extensor muscles are fastened to the top of the forearm and straighten out the fingers and thumbs. Interestingly, the muscles do not extend into the fingers; it is the action of the muscles on the tendons in the fingers that make the movements. There are 34 muscles which move the thumb and fingers: 18 in the forearm and 17 in the palm. When you think about the facts of the hands, the biomechanics are quite incredible. The muscles are incredibly strong – think about how people can climb vertical surfaces supporting their weight by their fingertips.
5. Palm Reading
The palm and the skin on the underside of the fingers is a unique area of the human body. For a start, it is glabrous – i.e. has no hair. Then of course, there are also the fingerprints – a totally unique DNA imprint that is different in every single human being. Additionally, as well as being tough, durable but incredibly sensitive at the same time, you cannot get a tan on your palm and underside fingers.
6. Not so Handy
Despite their magnificence, your hands are not indestructible. Included in the things to know about your hands are injuries and diseases they may suffer. The most common medical issues are arthritis, which limits joint movement and can be painful; carpal tunnel syndrome (pressure on a nerve in the wrist which causes pain, tingling and numbness); and Dupuytrens Contracture, where the fascia layer under the skin thickens and severely restricts the movement of the tendons in the fingers. With regard to injuries, did you know that one-third of acute A&E entrants are injured fingers/hands and that two-thirds of injuries to the upper extremities occur during our working years? One-fourth of all the disabling work injuries in the US are hand and finger related and one-fourth of all athletic injuries involve the wrist and hand.
7. Handy Words
Our hands are so important that there are a great many words that include the word hand. These words also reflect the vast array of uses to which we put our hands. The use of hand in the word also makes these words pretty obvious as to their meaning, such as in handful, handwriting, handiwork. Other words relate to the way something is used, such as in handle, handbag, handball, and handcart. Then there are some hand words that contain the word but seem to be unrelated, such as handsome and handicap.
8. Handy Facts or Myths?
There are various legends and myths about the hands. Of course, we all know there are people that claim they can “read your fortune” through the lines on the palms of your hand. Everyone one has a specific set of lines and they are created during fetal development when the hands are balled in the womb. But, there are other myths. “If you can move your finger it isn’t broken” – well, that’s false. “Cold hands, warm heart” – well that’s false too, because there could be many reasons why your hands are cold. Lastly, “cracking your knuckles will cause arthritis” – there is no medical evidence to support this.
9. Look after Them
Armed with these things to know about your hands, you can see how important it is to look after them. Wash them well, including under your fingernails, moisturize them regularly and wear gloves in cold winters to keep them warm. You should also wear gloves when doing anything that could cause wear and tear to or damage on your hands, such as gardening, DIY repairs, sports and anything involving heat.
I hope you enjoyed reading these facts about your hands and that you learned some new things. Do you look after your hands or, after reading this, will you make more of an effort?