Monday, April 27, 2009

Back Off Week/Fifth Finger Numbness With Jerks

This week is a back off week.  However, given all of the input I received from my recent jerk video, I have plenty to work on with the lighter weights.  This week I am planning to drop to the 20kg and 24kg bells and to tinker with my hand position in the bell and in my rack.  I am also going to focus on preventing my arms from externally rotating at the top of my jerk which is leading to my unsteady lockouts and ultimately will limit my ability to jerk heavier weights for reps.  Today, I had a good session.  I worked my OAJ with the 20kg and 24kg bells working on externally rotating my hand in the rack and resting the bell in the angle of my forearm and bicep.  This works well for me in OAJ and I think helped me launch straight upwards without rotating my shoulder.  However, I found this position difficult to get into with double bells.

Warm Up
Various OAJ sets with 20kg and 24kg bells
Jerk(20kg) 15 reps
Jerk(24kg) 5 minutes @ 6 rpm - stopped at 4 minutes due to finger numbness
Swing(32kg) 40/40 x 1

My 5 minute jerk set was going well until the 4 minute mark when I had to stop due to complete numbness in the 5th finger of both hands.  Now this has never happened to me in the past, but I also was working on getting my hands deeper into the angle of the bell which changed the position of the handle along my palm.  Given my symptoms, it was clear to me that the kettlebell handle was compressing my ulnar nerve.

As the pictures above show, the ulnar nerve runs through Guyon's canal which is formed by the pisiform and hamate bones of the hand and the ligaments that connect them (as seen in the picture on the top).  The picture on the bottom shows the muscles of the palm of the hand in relation to Guyon's canal and the ulnar nerve.  It is no surprise that the kettlebell handle could compress the nerve in Guyon's canal leading to the numbness of the fifth finger and the lateral aspect of the ring finger (4th finger).  My symptoms resolved shortly after putting the bells down, but persistent irritation of this area can lead to inflammation of Guyon's canal and more long term sequlae.  I obviously need to work on my hand positioning in order to eliminate the irritation of my ulnar nerve or I could run into some serious problems that might jeopardize my ability to continue training.

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