what your ring finger says about you (or doesn't)

Mar 1

When you get a minute to stop what you're doing, take a look at your hands. Seriously, this seemed equally strange to me, but give it a shot. Rest them on a flat surface with all fingers loosely together. Now, counting from thumb to little finger where your thumb is "1" and pinky is "5", take a look at your 4th finger (the "ring" finger) and specifically, how long it appears in comparison to your 2nd (the index finger). Does it appear significantly longer? If so, new research says you might have the makings of a professional soccer player (or at the very least an endurance athlete).

The theory, admittedly oversimplified, is that exposure to high concentrations of particular hormones while developing pre-birth, most notably testosterone, will be reflected in structural differences in our skeletal system which can be measured in the ratio between our ring finger and our index finger. What the research team found was that as the ringer fingers of 133 professional soccer players got shorter (by comparison to index fingers and therefore the ratio got closer to 1 to 1), VO2 Max, the gold standard of endurance capacity, was lower. Said another way, long ring fingers were associated with better aerobic capacity.

Of course, before we go checking our kids and finding a sports agent, we might want a few more questions like:

Is this real science? Yes, there have been more than 300 studies on this phenomenon since 2020.

Should I believe it? Well....while there are times when truth is stranger than fiction and so open-mindedness, even to the very strange, is probably the best policy, this one seems "unequivocal" at best; which is a nice way of saying it's hardly conclusive and although wildly interesting, not reliable. For example, this 2022 study is one of several that have found that the intriguing conclusions of small studies have not reliably been replicated in larger ones, making it hard to consider this more than an interesting coincidence. 

So while we are very likely to see this research pop up in social media outlets (if it's not there already) like so many others that make the rounds there, for at least the foreseeable future we will continue to suggest exercise to maximize aerobic capacity (and therefore health) and not rely on ring finger length for much more than a fun icebreaker should you need one.

On the other hand, if you use this information to kickstart a global search for the next soccer phenom by examining ring fingers everywhere - remember me when you're famous!

Have a great weekend,

Mike E.