Friday, November 09, 2007

Get a grip

...'cause your limp handshakes are creeping me out. I shake a lot of hands in a day. I always greet new patients in the waiting room with a handshake, and a lot of established patients put out their hands when I come out to meet them as well. I try not to think about where those hands have been, particularly during cold and stomach flu season, but I must admit that I often form a first impression from that initial HGS (hand grip strength).

Per ScienceNOW Daily News, "Hand grip strength (HGS) is an inherited trait; about 65% of a person's grip strength is genetically determined, whereas the remaining 35% depends on training and developmental factors such as nutrition." So I shouldn't judge the dead fish approach to greeting, their hands limp in mine, because these people are either born that way or they're malnourished. But evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup suggests that there's even more information to be gleaned from that impromptu waiting room test of HGS.

After conducting a study of HGS in a group of 143 undergraduates, both men and women, Dr. Gallup notes: "Our conclusion is that hand-grip strength is an honest indicator of fitness." In fact, Hawaiian investigators studied a grip of middle-aged Japanese-American men and concluded that midlife HGS was highly predictive of disability 25 years hence; those who lost their grip early were nearly 3 times as likely to totter unsteadily through their declining years than those with crunchers for handshakes.

So I have missed many opportunities to gaze into the future of those patients who greet me each day. But in the too-much-information department, Dr. Gallup also reports that men with high HGS have sex sooner and with more sexual partners plus were more aggressive in high school. Now I really don't want to know right up front about about the men I meet!


Michael Ditto said...

Now that doesn't seem fair... I consciously measure my handshake grip because on more than one occasion, especially with ladies (because of smaller hands I'm guessing), I've elicited an "ouch!"

But you've seen me. Not exactly a picture of fitness despite my best efforts.

Jean said...

Read a couple articles lately about hand shakes - they say it tells a lot about a person - although, mens' sex habits weren't included:) Said you should always stay 3' back from the person when you extend hand.Guess that's reasonable. I don't feel comfortable (creepy) when people cover my hand with their other one as the shake.I feel as if I should run.Limps are a no-no.

Mauigirl said...

LOL about the TMI part! I am not crazy about shaking hands. Guess I'm a little bit Howard Hughes-ish. I tend to look for Purell or go wash my hands when no one's looking afterward! However, when I do shake hands, I do so firmly, as I too hate limp handshakes.

Anonymous said...

This is your brother speaking. I am capable of crushing any hand that is not a lot larger than my own, but I do not necessarily do so. It may be situationally appropriate--and it is my impression that briefer, softer handshakes are more accepted than they used to be. Also, especially after I have been driving a car with a cold steering wheel, my hand may be embarrassingly cold. Are you simply greeting patients who are self-conscious about cold hands?

Femail doc said...

Mike: I'll keep in mind that that modulated grip may or may not have to do with overall fitness--lord knows we have other ways of assessing the latter. But I'm talking dead in the water handshakes, like I'm holding a piece of bread dough and not a human hand.

Jean: Three feet back seems like you'd have to reach out to get there hand, risking falling to the floor as you meet someone for the first time. That hand over mine thing always makes me feel a little overwhelmed as well.

Mg: You have no idea how many times a day I wash my hands, but I guess you'd want that in your doc 'cause you don't even want to know where MY hands have been.

Bro: Their hands can't be any colder than mine--perhaps they're recoiling from mine. Brief and soft is good, half frozen dead mackerel is not. The other trouble I have is failing to completely dry my hands from last wash prior to meeting new patients. I'll bet my wet hands really creep them out.