[Update] Thanks to the answer, I acknowledge now that I am heading towards "ulnar nerve entrapment" where one injury is Ulnar claw -- more common with males particularly training in gym with large weights and tennis players. This is due to stronger muscles blocking the ulnar nerve. The Wikipedia picture below at rest resembles the situation.

enter image description here

I have been under intensive training such as CFT, weight-lifting, tennis and climbing which all require a massive amount of effort on hands and fingers. On the morning I can feel that my fingers are not relaxed enough: particularly little finger and ring fingers which get an extra effort in dead-lifting, tennis volleys and tennis servings. This is a problem in tennis where non-relaxation can easily turn into pain due to fast swings.

Helper questions

  1. Which methods to prepare fingers for intensive sports requiring hands a lot?

  2. How to recover from ulnar claw and possible Ulnar nerve entrapment?


2 Answers 2


First of all, if your fingers are constantly under stress and they are not recovering properly, this can lead to nerve damage in the wrist and elbow which is known as a repetitive stress injury. Much of your 'finger' strength in rock-climbing and tennis is generated by your forearm. So increasing forearm strength will increase the strength of your fingers.

Allow your fingers and arms to recover. You do not want a repetitive stress injury. I had ulnar nerve entrapment due to intense training with professional tennis players. I didn't touch a tennis racquet for one year and I still have slight discomfort in my wrist and elbow.

If you are an amateur tennis player, I do not recommend intense weight training as it will tighten your body significantly. If you are a serious player, you must balance weight training with yoga or a HIIT. I usually box, as this trains hip rotation, speed, and legs.

Also as you must constantly stretch your fingers and forearms in order to prevent tight muscles.

Remember fitness and training is a marathon, not a sprint. Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way from intense over-training.

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    The surgery will damage your wrist even more if done improperly and the cortisol will damage your body. Ice is the only thing the helped me. Ice, Ice, Ice. It took me 1 year before I could play tennis again and I still have problems with the Ulnar and I still constantly ice it. Read more about ways to heal Ulnar nerve entrapment. Don't get depressed, it will take time to heal. Good luck, if you have any more questions just ask me.
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 14:28
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    I use Babolat Pure Drive Roddick that is the most powerful racket that I have ever played with, babolat.com/product/tennis/racket/pure-drive-roddick-+-102171. It clearly takes time for the hand muscles to get used to it. I use 2 overgrips with it and have to hold it closer to the hotspot so more control and less stress.
    – hhh
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 0:16
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    The original Pure Drive was the best, it didn't have that stupid cortex unit. If you are using a hard poly like Luxilon Big Banger or Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour, consider switching over to a soft-poly for a bit. It won't be as jarring as a hard-poly. I have been using the Babolat Pure Control (now Pure Storm) since 2006, in my opinion that is the best racquet ever made other then the wilson pro staff series. Give it a try, you may like it.
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 0:34
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    Yes, the cortex unit seems to hollow out the feeling of the ball, I personally hate it and IMO they ruined a lot of racquets with that system. Try any soft-poly string or synthetic gut. Technifibre makes a few good soft-polys I believe. The Pure Storm is not as stiff as the pro staff that Fed uses. I had the same issue with my hand and hot water. It is cold because the blood flow is constrained. I couldn't even brush my teeth without my hand falling asleep.
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 15:57
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    Buy this and alternate the icing between your wrist and elbow. amazon.com/Torex-Radial-Medium-Elbow-Ankle/dp/B001E9O4HQ/…
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 15:58

[May 2016]

Michael asked whether the ulnar claw healed in comment. A short answer is Yes.

Better analysis is that ulnar claw will probably never fully heal, the thing is precaution. You can feel the symptoms of ulnar claws in situations having excessive loss of minerals (nerve damage impairs the transportation of minerals in the arms) such as excessive sauna or tiresome tennis match: crucial thing is to have proper hydration with proper salts to avoid cramps and strain on nerves.

Before symptoms of ulnar claw reoccur, you can stop the activity or change the technique for less intensive.

I attribute the original ulnar claw to things such as bad blood circulation in shoulder and overtraining changing the biomechanics over the torso. Tennis requires asymmetric swings and excessive needs over whole body due to the swings, any imbalance can worse your technique a lot. Things that I have fixed contain armspan and legspan so far-better crossing shots, topspins and less injury-prone in games because the blood flow is not blocked by imbalances over the body. The following threads contain some of my development

  1. Arm cross stretching behind the back, how to improve it?

  2. Legspan requirements for different running styles?

where a good diagnosis technique or red alert observation is to acknowledge whether your arm after sleep feels like dead (blood blocked somewhere in the shoulder likely) or other symptoms. They can be triggered by multiple factors such as bad training, bad recovery and bad hydration.

The symptoms of ulnar claw can also be triggered without training such as in stressful situations. Things contain bad posture over excessive amount of time and lack of variety.

My case worked out without any surgery and I have had now no symptoms at least over year, almost forgetting the whole thing. I do carry things such as BandIt and sufficient stretching tools in my training bag and I have developed techniques to alleviate the symptoms. Precaution is the best thing: things such as bruises or painful small bruise-like things with white center in the joints of arms are red alerts.

I hope best of luck to everyone dealing with ulnar claw, it is an opportunity to make you far better in things you enjoy the most :)

[Januaray 2015] long time until symptoms back after intensive sauna and swimming which I attribute to losing minerals and somehow softening the myofascia, softening muscles, nerves and skin and losing minerals at the same time backfiring, awesome relaxation but symptoms getting back such as paresthesia and losing the range of motion in fingers.

[10th November 2014] symptoms back after playing hours piano, treatment techniques here.

[24th June 2014] general doctor order me 2 weeks of rest with anti-inflamatory painkillers

Slow process of diagnosing this: information here is a summary of my treatment and helped by top neurosurgeons, physiotherapists, couches and other professionals. You can read my diary below. We are trying to get me back to games fast.

I am doubtful about this because I cannot see inflammation. I try it and fingers developing some pain after being in the mold 1-2 days.

enter image description here

[26th June] no inflamation whatsoever so my couch instructs me to prepare me to use the hand normally

Stiffness in the little finger and ringer finger and pain in the little finger when trying to put into fist after being a long time in alu mold. Too stiff shoulders: cold in shoulders relaxes the ring finger. Hot in hand relaxes the stiffness in little finger and ring finger.


I am feeling totally normal again and sleeping with alumium fold again so the fingers get oxygen during sleeping. Goal is to get better in one week like pros.

28th June

Bandit-style device made my fingers feel stiff. Cold makes my little and ring finger feel stiff. So I got compression socks to hands which increase the blood flow and makes the forearm feel more warm, feels good.

enter image description here

29th June

Having the aluminium mold on during the night can make the extensor digitorum in the little finger darker after night. After relaxing it, the darkness go away and this stiffness get lessened but the spring-feeling stays.

enter image description here

30th June: little finger starting to feel normal after adding exteremely strong compression to forearm

I realised that I can get away with the jumpiness/springiness/stiffiness/powerlessness of the little-finger by pressing tight at certain points of the hand. So I tested a rubber band: the blood-flow gets totally intercepted but the little finger started to work like normal for a while! Wohoo! The colour of my hand changed and oddly my middle finger started to feel odd, I don't know how this can work -- somehow extremely tight compression in the forearm released some tension or something like that and you need to be careful not damaging other fingers.

enter image description here

2th July: BandIt arrived

Rubber band method and BandIt are about the same method but BandIt does not block your blood flow that much, fingers staying white i.e. not getting red/black with BandIt. The coordination of my little finger has returned back due to playing with rubber band and I believe BandIt is the safer method equivalent to rubber band that can be used during any sport.

enter image description here

Misc information

Different Stretching Methods

1st method

Push-ups with fingers feel very very good to the fingers, this is because deadlifts with about 90kg require a proper warmup.

2rd method

Rise-bowl-scrutching-method suggested here warms up the whole hand and actually simulates the handles of different sized rackets -- unfortunately the shape of crutching rice and crutching handles of rackets are not the same so not specific to the ring-finger-little-finger-area.

3th method: Static stretching

Stretching like here but at least 30 seconds' interval so it takes at least 20 minutes to stretch just one hand. Excellent stretching also here by a rock climber, it feels excellent!

Different relaxation methods

I. method: resting during rock climbing

A rock climber shows here advanced resting techniques for hands. It may be possible to adjust to other sports: hands slowly down and then hand up here crutching hand push the fresh blood back to the hand.

Different coordination methods

A. method

Powerball is not sufficiently powerful/large to train my fingers on my serving hand. It certainly makes fingers a bit more flexible in the left but I think the main thing it helps with is coordination, it actives areas of hands which may not be under normal usage during day and sporadic spinning requires proper coordination or bad sounding noise generated.

Related Threads and material

  1. How to develop sensitivity of hands and arms?

  2. How to treat tennis elbow

  3. Rehabilitation for Ulnar nerve, awesome stretching movements in the video "Ulnar Nerve Flossing Exercise - Amazing Results - Kinetic Health" here.

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    I would slow down, you have a nerve injury. It will take longer than a week to recover. Be patient. I was not patient and really damaged my Ulnar nerve. I need to be constantly aware in order not to stress my arm from too much tennis or training. I would hate to see someone else have it as bad as I had it.
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 16:02
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    I only used a mold at night, but it didn't help at all. My hand began falling asleep at night and it became very painful. I would have to wake up and try to get blood back into my arm. Seriously, the only thing that helped me were icing many times a day and the BandIt. It took me 14 months to recover and I still have issues with it, but I damaged it pretty bad. In the beginning I thought it would go away soon, but it became worse and worse until I couldn't train anymore. Maybe you don't have it as bad. Many doctors don't understand nerve injuries.
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 16:21
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    Yes, the Bandit is similar to a cloth wrapped around your forearm, but it is designed to allow blood to flow adequately while eliminating the stress on your elbow. I keep the BandIt on while I lift weights or play tennis. It helped a lot.
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 21:30
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    Yeah, I felt the same pain in my palm. I always used the BandIt when I exercised, but I generally kept it on all day and removed it before I slept. Nerve injuries are kind of weird, I would experience different pains and sensations in my forearm and was not able to pinpoint the exact reason or causes. I just kept my arm straight and did not bend my elbow often in order to prevent pinching the nerve in my elbow. If you can, buy that torex ice sleeve, it is well worth the money and helps. If you buy make sure you get the correct size for your elbow.
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 19:15
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    Hey, sorry I missed your reply about supplements yesterday. I was busy with uni. You should definitely be taking supplements if you are training hard. At the minimum take a multi-vitamin daily. Personally, the supplement that helps me the most with recovery is cod-liver oil, the taste is absolutely horrible, but it helps a lot. The best multi-vitamin to take is made by optimum nutrition called Opi-Men - bodybuilding.com/store/opt/men.html. That BandIt will help you, wear it often and you'll see an improvement. Just be sure to ice your elbow, wrist or where you feel inflammation.
    – Michael
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 16:26

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