By BENJAMIN ROMAN
When was the last time you used your extensor carpi muscles? Wait, what? Exactly –- you’ve probably never thought about them, let alone exercised these forearm muscles. But the Xtensor hand and wrist exerciser, a robotic-looking device that costs $39.95, focuses exclusively on the extensor carpi muscles, which complement the muscles used in any sport or activity involving gripping.
The Xtensor device is touted to increase strength and help rehabilitate existing injuries and pain, including tendonitis and wrist or elbow stability issues. It can potentially prevent problems in the first place by improving dexterity and strength, according to the company.
I have some, er, firsthand experience with the Xtensor device. While working at a sports-medicine clinic a couple years back, I tested it out. It was one of the tools the clinic offered patients. Although there are other ways to work the extensor muscles that don’t require specialized gear, the Xtensor is a convenient all-in-one option.
It works by using elastic bands attached to each fingertip, providing adjustable resistance to strengthen the muscles that extend your fingers. These extensor muscles are the counterparts to the often-overused gripping muscles. When overlooked, weak extensor carpi muscles can leave an athlete vulnerable to hand, wrist or arm conditions like tennis elbow.
Xtensor Inc. markets its namesake product as a training and conditioning tool that can benefit athletes as well as people who are rehabilitating injuries. The company points out that, in addition to obvious sports like golf or tennis, other activities like rock climbing or even simple typing can overwork the flexor muscles. The Xtensor promises to help relieve or prevent tendonitis, while balancing hand strength and increasing finger range of motion. $39.95, www.thextensor.com
—Contributor Benjamin Roman is a writer and design consultant from Venice, Calif.