I have been bowling with middle finger pain for some time now. In my youth, I injured my finger while at work. Now that I am older, arthritis is making the bowling middle finger joint pain worse. This became even more apparent recently, when I quit bowling for the summer months. A few weeks before the start of the fall league, I wanted to throw some practice balls. However, I was experiencing difficulty holding my ball properly. Even potting my fingers into the ball hurt! Why was bowling making my middle finger pain worse than ever? I had to find out why.
Bowling With Middle Finger Joint Pain And How I Cured It
Normally, I bowl all season in both summer and winter leagues, at least two times a week. Since my bowling was fairly constant, I didn’t realize the problems developing inside my bowling ball. I had always felt the holes were angled to far back on my ball, even before i learned the term for that was the fInger pitch.
Because I happened to take 3 months off, the problems became apparent as soon as I picked up my ball at summers end to prepare for the new season. I always like to get some tune up shots in whenever I haven’t been bowling for awhile. It helps with my confidence, and it’s a chance to loosen stiff fingers and hands up for hooking the ball.
All of a Sudden, I Had a Problem!
So,I got a lane, put my gear on, and grabbed a ball. I noticed my fingers felt awful stiff and didn’t like being crammed into my bowling ball. I was puzzled by that, and thought my ball felt kinda strange, and I couldn’t remember having that feeling before.
As I threw the first ball, I knew I had a problem. I felt this intense pain in my middle finger, I had to let go of the ball because it hurt so bad, and the ball went right into the gutter immediately. I was in shock! What happened? I could no longer tolerate the feel of holding the ball. I tried several times, but I could not hold onto the ball.
Did Someone Switch Bowling Balls With Me?
I knew something had changed and it had changed big time. Did I suddenly have middle finger arthritis so badly now, I could no longer bowl? Maybe this was someone else’s bowling ball?
I started to look things over more closely. It was my ball alright, but what happened? Hook bowling requires a fingertip drill. That means just the tips of your fingers are inside the holes, up to the first joint. You can read more on that here Hook Bowling and Getting Started.
When I placed my fingers in the ball, I couldn’t bend my fingers enough to feel the back side of my inserts. The only way I could get my fingers to bend enough was to literally squeeze or clench the ball hard (which you are NOT supposed to do).
You can’t get a clean hand release in bowling when you hold the ball too tightly, you have to lighten the pressure, before you let the ball go. Not to mention, clenching the ball while bowling, increased the middle finger joint pain as well.
Clenching demonstration video
Keeping My Thumb Slightly Out Of The Ball Helped
I noticed I could pull my thumb out of the ball a half inch, and that would allow my finger enough slack to relieve the finger joint pain. But, my thumb was not seated properly when I did that. I did realize that I could also shorten my span. However, that raises the middle joint, and because I wear an extended wrist support, that may be uncomfortable.
My ball-driller took a look at my ball, and helped me figure out what happened. This problem had me questioning if my ball had been drilled improperly some how? Well, That was not the case.
I Am Not a Conventional Style Bowler, I hold My Ball Down
Personally,I bowl a bit differently than conventional bowlers. I had developed some elbow tendinitis a long time ago, maybe 20 years ago. My elbow was so sore, I couldn’t hold the ball up by my chest, so I just held it straight down. Now, I continue to bowl that way and I am comfortable with it. My elbow no longer hurts, and I want it to stay that way.
But, like I said, I have my ball drilled for a fingertip style of grip to be able to hook the ball. So, When I hold my ball down, that style now puts all the ball weight on the first finger joint of my middle finger as well as my ring finger.
Also, the edge of my finger insert was pressing all that ball weight in the small area on my finger joint. That felt like a knife edge on my sore finger!
So, considering all that with all the weight of the ball in line across my joint finger, and the swelling in the finger joint. It was impossible to continue, I needed to find out what I could do.
Have Your Ball Driller Check Your Ball Fitment First
So, the problem is, what can we do about it. I felt I needed my finger hole changed. It was apparent my finger did not bend as much any more. The arthritis has stiffened it significantly.You can read about some other bowling finger injuries in my previous post.
My ball driller agreed we could pitch the finger forward, or shorten my span to allow the finger some movement, and allow me to keep my thumb seated properly in the ball. I decided to move the finger pitch forward at least a half inch.
Change Forward Pitch in Smaller Increments
It was explained it was better to go a quarter inch at a time until it fit better. Since he couldn’t see my finger inside the ball, he couldn’t visualize I needed as much pitch as I did.
Over the course of several months, I finally got the ball to a point where I can actually feel the back of the finger hole again. And my finger finally does not hurt as much. Mainly because i don’t have to clench the ball tightly to keep a good grip. Now, I relax my hand and throw a comfortable shot.
My middle finger hole had to be changed to add 5/8″ forward pitch. I also moved the ring finger to add 1/4″ forward pitch. I also found some help for my finger as well.
Here is a video I found showing how to help release stiff tight fingers. I tried this and I can tell you this works as well. It helped improve the range of motion on my finger! Take a look!
Finger Joint Pain Relief – Do it Yourself
You can also visit Gary Crowley’s website DIY Joint Pain Relief. com
Gary’s information is free, and it is very helpful for pain relief! I certainly gained some range of motion, and that is a good thing!
Finally, My Finger Pain Is Gone
It was a long journey, but middle finger joint pain is gone and my bowling is much more comfortable! I don’t have to clench the ball, and I have a much better release. I don’t drop my ball and the ball no longer goes into the gutter. And most importantly, my scores are improving!
If you have problems with your fingers hurting you while you are bowling, talk to your ball driller, and let him know. You fit must be comfortable, and if your ball driller doesn’t understand that, you need a new ball driller.
The Comfort Of The Fit Makes The Difference
You have to make the ball driller understand what is happening inside your ball, before you can get it fixed. All ball drillers want you to think they are the best. But, you need him to help you, by not changing everything all at once. Unless you are going to start over with a complete new fitting, then do that. I know it will make a drastic difference.
if you are not considering a complete new drilling layout, go slow, change one thing at a time if possible. If you change a couple things and it causes another problem , you won’t know what caused it. I used an older ball to make the original changes, then had a new ball drilled with the changes we made.
You may need your span shortened, but that may help or cause issues with your release. Then, if that happens, you know what change to reverse the situation.
In that case, you will have to change your hole pitch for your finger to fit properly. or you may want to try shortening your span. That will help your finger to fit better and may be all you need. Then, if it is an improvement, you could then change the finger pitch.
What I did was changed just the middle finger pitch first, several different times on an older ball. Currently, it is pitched 5/8 of an inch forward and is working well.
Change Your Inserts, The Easy Fix
Try the oval end of your finger inserts. Some finger inserts are made as a 2 in 1 Power Lift and Oval Finger Inserts with an oval end and a square grip on one side for better lift. If you are using the square lift side, you could try a new set and turn the insert around and use the oval end. You can’t use the same inserts, because they usually have to be trimmed to fit your ball, so you will have to buy a new set.
Just this change alone will make the finger inserts much more comfortable!
They also make 2 in 1 Oval and Power Oval Finger Inserts to help relieve the pressure on painful finger joints. The Power Oval side is more oval shaped than straight across, and the other side is just oval shaped.
So, If you have middle finger pain or ring finger pain when bowling, you can give that a try also. I really depends upon how much pain you have and what is causing it.
Get Your Span Checked
You may also have a span issue. Our hands change over time, and you need to adjust your ball fitment from time to time. It is amazing how the pain just disappears when you get properly fitted.
Talk to your ball driller, and have your local pro shop make any adjustments you may need.
Older fingers are stiff and don’t bend like they used to. Senior bowlers could benefit by a span and finger pitch adjustment. Keep in mind, if you wear an extended wrist support, a shorter span will create a higher position of your middle finger and ring finger joints.
It will take some time, and maybe a few ball drilling’s to get it straightened out. But, once you do, you will be on your way to bowling without middle finger joint pain.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I answer all my readers as promptly as I possibly can.