Body Mechanics – Hand and arm position

WOW… so I’ve had a comment from a real live actual reader, which included a request for elaboration on my ideas about body mechanics for quadrupedal motion. So here goes, this will actually be a series of posts on different parts as I think of them and as I have time.

In my experience to date, hand position does not seem to affect the efficiency of quadrupedal motion a great deal.

Some options I like to use are:

Vertical fist


Palm, fingers extended

Middle Knuckles

Basically it is good to have a variety of hand positions to use as due to the fact that we do not generally use our hands for load bearing most of the the time, our tendons and ligaments tend to be quite weak in our hands, wrist and fingers.  It takes time to build up this strength, so having a variety of hand positions lets you keep on training while your connective tissue strength builds up.

Of these hand positions I prefer fingertips for speed, and use all the others for variation.

Arm position on the other hand is very important.  One thing that has occured to me as I have worked on this stuff is that chimpanzees and gorillas, while similar humans in many ways, because of that very similarity don’t make the best examples to copy for quadrupedal body mechanics. 

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you might remember a post awhile ago where I found some research suggesting that quadrupedal motion can in fact be as energy efficient as bipedalism see here.  A key fact in this was the energy efficient quadrupedal motion research was done on monkeys other than the great apes, the research showing inefficiency was done on chimps.

I think a big part of this is to do with how we adapt to use tools not only with our hands but with our entire arms and shoulders.  Chimpanzees and Gorillas have a tendency to turn their elbows out to the sides.  This rotates the shoulder which is great and useful in tool manipulation but for locomotion it means that the triceps, back and chest muscles do not engage in a way that efficiently assists forward motion.

So a big key in body mechanics for efficient quadrupedal motion is to have the elbows facing down and back at all times.  Think more along the lines of the forelimb alignment of a cat or a dog than of a great ape.


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