PDA

View Full Version : Bendable knuckles



Tigeralum2001
04-20-2013, 10:06 AM
I was looking at another thread and it got me thinking about chords I find hard. I think I know part of the reason- my knuckles do not bend "backwards" like some people's. In fact, it is very painful if I try. Is this a genetic thing like rolling your tongue or does it come with practice? I remember when learning to hold a pencil, I could never do it.

Most people can do this "backward" flex:
52104

I cannot. Mine looks more like this:
52103

This prevents me from hitting certain chords. Any thoughts- is it genetics or practice?

Dan Uke
04-20-2013, 10:40 AM
Very true...that could part of the recessive gene like my thumb can bend so far backwards that it almost touches my wrist, of course an exagerration.

That is why radius fretboards are harder for me due to my "backward" flex.

gitarzan
04-20-2013, 10:41 AM
I have hitch hikers thumb. I can bend mine back almost 90 degrees, but cannot bend it forward hardly at all. I'd rather it had been the other way. It would have been handy for playing. The way it is my thumbs are only good for holding the neck.

http://www.brighthub.com/science/genetics/articles/40827.aspx

Gillian
04-20-2013, 11:24 AM
According to my (old) book on orthopedics, the "backward" flex of finger joints, called hyperextension or hypermobility, is genetic.

I can't flex my finger joints like that either but my husband can. He has what are called hitchhiker's or murderer's thumbs where the thumb can flex back at an almost 90 degree angle. His mother has them also.

mm stan
04-20-2013, 03:12 PM
[QUOTE=Tigeralum2001;1248420]I was looking at another thread and it got me thinking about chords I find hard. I think I know part of the reason- my knuckles do not bend "backwards" like some people's. In fact, it is very painful if I try. Is this a genetic thing like rolling your tongue or does it come with practice? I remember when learning to hold a pencil, I could never do it.

Most people can do this "backward" flex:
52104
Aloha CJ
You can do exercises to improve dexterity to your fingers...what I did at the start... is pick any two fingers and put them finger tip to finger tip and assert pressure on the first joint down.
keep doing that and it will break in faster...please keep this hush....he he it is for you only brother... :)

Loudster
04-20-2013, 05:29 PM
Very true...that could part of the recessive gene like my thumb can bend so far backwards that it almost touches my wrist, of course an exagerration.

That is why radius fretboards are harder for me due to my "backward" flex.

Some people can actually bend their thumb all the way backwards and touch their wrist, though that includes the combined movement of all the joints of the thumb plus the movement at the wrist. Off the bat I'm thinking of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome which causes joint laxity, which functionally means you get hyperflexibility to the point of it being detrimental.

But yep, just to add on to what everyone else is saying, joint flexibility is genetic but that doesn't mean you can't practice and improve your level of flexibility. Also, you really don't need to be hyperflexible to play the ukulele. ;)

gyosh
04-20-2013, 06:26 PM
According to my (old) book on orthopedics, the "backward" flex of finger joints, called hyperextension or hypermobility, is genetic.

I can't flex my finger joints like that either but my husband can. He has what are called hitchhiker's or murderer's thumbs where the thumb can flex back at an almost 90 degree angle. His mother has them also.

Is there more story to this? I'm kinda interested to hear it.

Tigeralum2001
04-20-2013, 07:11 PM
I'm not making excuses, just stating facts. I didn't say "I can't fret these chords" I said "it is hard." For instance, Am7 in position 2 is 2433, most people can barre 2, use their ring finger on the 4 and their middle finger bent backwards for the 3s. I have to play it using all 4 fingers.

While neither of those hands in the pictures are mine, I am relatively healthy and thankful for that. I just wonder why some seem to do this with no issue while I seem incapable.

janeray1940
04-20-2013, 07:37 PM
I'm not making excuses, just stating facts. I didn't say "I can't fret these chords" I said "it is hard." For instance, Am7 in position 2 is 2433, most people can barre 2, use their ring finger on the 4 and their middle finger bent backwards for the 3s. I have to play it using all 4 fingers.


I hear ya on this one! That's one of the chords that I freak people out with on a soprano (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?79777-Hands&p=1247416#post1247416) :) Neither my middle nor ring finger have any bendability whatsoever (although my index finger bends waaaaaaay backwards when I write). I can't even barre two strings with either of those fingers (e.g. the 7sus shape).

As I noted in the other thread, my uke instructor told me it's a matter of genetics/anatomy. Doesn't mean making excuses, doesn't mean one "can't" do it - just means it's a lot harder, and it might be better to find a different way that works for you. Or it might get better with practice, maybe.

FWIW, the challenge that has gotten better with practice for me: in addition to non-bendy fingers, I've got pinky fingers with bones that curve sharply inward toward my ring finger... sort of C-shaped pinkies, if that makes sense. This is a big part of why I mainly play soprano. When I first began playing, I could barely span 4 frets with my left hand. Now - one song I play has my index finger on the 5th fret, and my pinky on the 14th! My pinky is still curved as always - it's the bone that is curved, and nothing is going to change that - but somehow I've managed to compensate by becoming more flexible elsewhere in my hand.

bbqribs
04-20-2013, 11:33 PM
You could stretch to increase the flexibility of your joints, although you might have structural limitations stopping you. Aldrine and Jake have hypermobile finger joints which might make it easier for them to play certain chords. Because I use my hands for my work, I have avoided stretching in this manner, because I think it would lead to problems for me, in the long run. So I play Am7 the way you do, or 0000!