T Nation

Bone Adaption


Just wondering if Wolff’s Law (A bone under stress will adapt to that stress) applies to size as it does to density.

For instance I deadlift 300lbs now and my fingers are quite thin. If say 5 years from now I’m deadlifting 600lbs do you think my fingers will get any thicker?

It seems hard laborers and the like always have large hands and fingers. I know tendons can grow but can bone?

Also would the growth hormone production during training have any appreciable effect?

this is not what you are asking about at all … BUT I was watching a show “Made” by MTV, and the kid had always been obese… just a monster, and as a result, his legs were weird! His knees bowed inwards!

okay… sorry for not being helpful

[quote]LiftSmart wrote:
Just wondering if Wolff’s Law (A bone under stress will adapt to that stress) applies to size as it does to density.

For instance I deadlift 300lbs now and my fingers are quite thin. If say 5 years from now I’m deadlifting 600lbs do you think my fingers will get any thicker?

It seems hard laborers and the like always have large hands and fingers. I know tendons can grow but can bone?

Also would the growth hormone production during training have any appreciable effect?[/quote]

Well, most hard laborers I know are in that line of work because they are suited to it. Not vice versa.

But, that really isn’t helpful to ya. I would think that this is more of a genetics matter though.

I know bone density can increase from lifting, and ligaments can strengthen, but to the degree your talking about I’m not too sure.

I’d have to agree with Reborn, I think the reason why labors typically have large hands and what not is because they are suited for it. The weak have lost/quit their jobs not being able to keep up. This is a vast oversimplification of course, but I think you get the general idea.

As far as I can tell yes, however the work I do involves 10-12 hours of useing a 45lbs Jackhammer in a confined space but as far as my experience; yes

I think any repetative use of your hands that requires alot of grip strength will eventully lead to a gain in thickness or size but I think its deffinatly a muscle group that takes a long time to grow.

Calluses probably also contribute to a gain in size for people who use their hands for labour.

Hmmm well only time will tell.

[quote]LiftSmart wrote:
Just wondering if Wolff’s Law (A bone under stress will adapt to that stress) applies to size as it does to density.

For instance I deadlift 300lbs now and my fingers are quite thin. If say 5 years from now I’m deadlifting 600lbs do you think my fingers will get any thicker?

It seems hard laborers and the like always have large hands and fingers. I know tendons can grow but can bone?

Also would the growth hormone production during training have any appreciable effect?[/quote]

My coach is around 5’6", 181 lbs, DLs over 600, and I bet my fingers are bigger than his - I’ve always had big hands.

[quote]OctoberGirl wrote:

this is not what you are asking about at all … BUT I was watching a show “Made” by MTV, and the kid had always been obese… just a monster, and as a result, his legs were weird! His knees bowed inwards!

okay… sorry for not being helpful[/quote]

kid has rickets. doesn’t have to do with his obesity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rickets.

Bone grown is most stimulated by compressive force in the body, so lifts that load the body structurally do the most good for training that. Work with weight overhead

As you apply stress to bones yes they do get used to that stress. However, how a bone grows is width. right in the middle of the bone it is hollow where blood vessels travel through so they can transport new RBC, WBC, and blood platelets from bone marrow.

When stress is applied a body will start to add calcium to the outside at the same time getting hollower in the middle. However, I do not believe your fingers will get bigger if you have a increase in deadlift.

The bones that would get bigger would be your femur, tibia, and fibula (and maybe some others) People just have natural big thick fingers than others. Myself have small fingers. Genetics…

[quote]Fuzzyapple wrote:
As you apply stress to bones yes they do get used to that stress. However, how a bone grows is width. right in the middle of the bone it is hollow where blood vessels travel through so they can transport new RBC, WBC, and blood platelets from bone marrow.

When stress is applied a body will start to add calcium to the outside at the same time getting hollower in the middle. However, I do not believe your fingers will get bigger if you have a increase in deadlift.

The bones that would get bigger would be your femur, tibia, and fibula (and maybe some others) People just have natural big thick fingers than others. Myself have small fingers. Genetics… [/quote]

So what kind of pressure would you have to apply to get your bones to grow?

"…You may wonder how your wrist will become improved by
any forearm practice , so before we go any further, let me
enlighten you upon the fact that the muscles all taper off
into ligaments.

The weaker the muscles, the more stringy and thin are these
cables. The stronger and bulkier they build up, the thicker
the ligaments become.

As these ropes of connection taper off at the wrist, it is
only a natural condition that the wrist size should be
increased. When I commenced heavy exercise, I had only
a seven inch wrist, just an average size as I have said, but
to-day my wrist measures every bit of eight an a half
inches… The sinews that have massed upon the wrist
are very heavy…"

============================================
Muscle - after 3 weeks of training
Heart Muscle - after 4 weeks of training
Bone - after 1 year of training
Tendon - after 1-2 years of training
Ligaments - after more than 2 years of training
Cartilage - after 3-5 years of training

This is an excerpt from a John Wood email I got.

[quote]RebornTN wrote:

So what kind of pressure would you have to apply to get your bones to grow?[/quote]

Pretty much any stress on the body such as squats, curls, and overhead presses. Bone growth doesn’t happen overnight it takes years to grow. The one thing about steriod use is when a subject uses steriods their strength gain is so quick that their bones can’t catch up with the strength gain. Thus, this results in bone breaking when doing heavy lifts due to increase in strength. So that can give you a idea on how long it takes as well as what kind of stress needed for bone growth. Hope that helps…

It would seem that hammering would be most likely to strengthen the bones in your hands.

Either hammering stuff, or hitting the hands directly with a hammer.

impact training that ufc fighters do adds to bone strength to stop mid fight breaks.
but i am not sure about size imcreases,

although i have one huge fist and one smaller one as far as i can tell its because i hit walls with my right when i am in a mood (i am always in a mood)

on youtube type in bone remodeling its is handy :slight_smile: it explains it in detail

Actually, bone continues to grow throughout life (a process called bone remodeling: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone_remodeling). Old bone is removed and new bone is formed. Muscle activity does, in fact, have an influence on this process. I’ve seen some before and after pictures of weight-trainers, and often notice a subtle difference in the hands and the head, which I believe is not just the result of steroids or HGH. So, you will very likely see a subtle change in your bone dimensions as a result of heavy lifting over time.

You would have to have continuing stress for such a evolution to take place, much more than any weight training could give you.

My hands and fingers have gotten thicker and meatier with about every 100lbs I added to my deadlift since I started.

I don’t know if the bones are thicker, but the muscles definitely are.

“so before we go any further, let me
enlighten you upon the fact that the muscles all taper off into ligaments.”

No they taper off into either cords or broad flat aponeurosies of tendon. Ligaments attach bones to bones and there are also many areas such as the wrists and ankles wrapped by tough fibrous bands called retinaculi.

Bones constantly remodel, balanced by osteoclast/osteoblast activity. Once the epiphyses(growth plates) are fused though they cannot lengthen but can add cortical thickness in response to stress.

Heavy deads always increase my hand size. I wear surgical gloves daily and after a deadlift session my gloves are always tighter, this is only a temporary effect for me at least and goes away after a day or two.

There are layers of soft tissues in the hands, some very dense and others very loose. The dense tissues would tend to hold in swelling from the trauma of working out longer. Bones will thicken to stress but, not usually in any profound way and because the body is economical and the skeleton is always remodeling once the stress is removed osteoclast activity would increase in an attempt to take you back down to your set point(homeostasis)

Btw there are no muscles in the fingers themselves past the joints of the knuckles (MCP), plenty o’ meat in the palms though and they can hypertrophy significantly looking like a baby’s butt. In the back of the hand (dorsum) the muscles are just between the bones and won’t project much past them.

Of course you could always hope for acromegaly. :smiley: