I've often spoken about fingertip pushups as being one of the very best exercises that you can do. In addition to being a great finger, wrist and forearm builder, the fingertip pushup also develops the much ignored (and yet, equally, if not more important than the actual muscles) ligaments and tendons of the fingers. The exercise was a favorite for many an old timer, and you'll still find it being used extensively by boxers, wrestlers, and the like.
But, while it goes without saying that the fingertip pushup is something you need to work upon, here is something I haven't discussed before - and that is to concentrate deeply on your fingers while doing the actual pushup - perhaps even more so than while doing regular (or other) pushups.
Now, concentration is important in ANY form of exercise - you need to focus on each rep and perform it as if it was the last rep of that exercise you'd ever get to do. Again, this goes true for any exercise, be it sprints, pull-ups, lifting weights, yoga, whatever. So why am I telling you to focus more while doing the fingertip pushups?
Well, I started my workout off yesterday by doing a light set of fingertip pushups. Eased into my regular pushup workout that way, and all was going well. I was feeling strong on the day, so attempted a set of 20 fingertip pushups after doing 110 other styles. And they went fine - until rep #17 - when I felt my right thumb suddenly "slide" forward in front of my palm, and take my entire bodyweight on it as it did so.
OUCH! Now, THAT is something that hurts - those of you that have experienced thumb injuries of this type before know what I'm talking about. I couldn't even move the limb for a few minutes after that. Sensation gradually returned, and I somehow finished off the rest of my routine, but not without experiencing some serious discomfort in my right thumb.
Now, it's not as if I never do fingertip pushups. It's not as if they are something new to me - they're not. But yet, I managed to injure myself doing something I do most of the time. And the reason behind that was that I perhaps lost focus just a little bit while doing the pushups.
ALWAYS remember that while fingertip pushups strengthen your entire forearm from finger to elbow without belief, they also place tremendous stress on the fingers and supporting joints. And unlike with regular pushups where your large chest muscles start "talking" to you when the reps get tougher and tougher, your fingers generally won't give you any such advance warning - so you have to pay extra attention to them. You DO need to push your limits, as with any other exercise, but you need to do so with extra caution.
Second, it is important to note that fingertip pushups are meant to be done with ALL fingers - at least until you get really good at them. You'll see most people unknowingly shifting focus to both the thumbs as they tire - and this is something you do NOT want. This greatly increases the risk of thumb injury; and thumb injuries can get real serious, and take a long time to heal, so you want to be extra careful on this one.
Again, note that you can attempt to perform the fingertip pushup with three - or maybe even two - fingers once you get real good at the movement (in fact that should be one of your goals), but start out with extreme caution. Finger (and especially thumb) injuries are nasty, and take a long, long time to heal sometimes - so avoid them.
Anyway, I soaked the thumb in warm water and salt yesterday, applied a lot of "magic" spray, and the finger's much better today. The fact that I perform finger exercises probably aided in recovery, but even so, I took an unscheduled break from all upper body exercises today. Want to make sure this heals up for the most part before I place more stress on it, and going by the evidence on offer, I seem to be on track for a great workout tomorrow!
And thats that for the day. If you workout today, make it a great one!
PS: For more powerful wrist and forearm builders, take a gander at some of the other exercises I mention in Fast and Furious Fitness.