In the 1950’s the term ‘gamekeeper’ was used to describe an injury to the metacarpophalangeal joint of the thumb. It originated as a description of a work related injury of Scottish sport estate gamekeepers, whereby the gamekeeper as a necessary part of his employment sacrificed birds and animals such as rabbits by breaking their necks for their sporting guests. The gamekeeper would hold the creature’s legs in one hand and wedge the animal’s neck in the cleft between the thumb and index finger and pull forcibly. Many keepers after years of work would injure their thumbs even going so far as to rupture the ulnar collateral ligament. Today this injury is often called ‘skiers thumb’ as a consequence of a skier’s hand driven into a ski pole upon falling. Though the term has been labeled as such, injuries to the ulnar collateral ligament and/or thumb are common in many sports such as football, volleyball, basketball and others.
The thumb acts as a primary restraint to an opposing stressors and is injured if hyperabducted and hyperextenened. In the Journal of Orthopedic Surgery, “Injury to ulnar collateral ligament of thumb.“, researchers indicate that the injury is often missed by inexperienced health care personnel. When thumbs are ‘jammed’ or strained by an athlete in sport’ he or she may resume activity without reporting the injury as well. Like any other joint or muscle once injured it must be examined properly, rehabilitated, retrained and strengthened to normal levels to prevent further injury.
Training with ‘pinch grip’ wrist rollers of varying grip dimensions strengthens the extrinsic thumb muscles of the hands and very small pinch blocks the intrinsic muscles. Keeping the adductor musculature strong helps guard against hyperextension. If a thumb is strained use a variety of pinch grip wrist rollers to Get Strong.
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