Should You Claw Grip on Controller? [Advantages & Concerns]

Dilyan Dimitrov
Dilyan Dimitrov

Updated · Mar 03, 2023


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Do you love playing console games but find yourself not performing to the best of your abilities since you can’t press all the needed buttons at once?

Then, you should learn about playing with a ‘claw grip’ on the controller.

Unlike the standard ‘palm grip’ technique, the ‘claw’ method gives you greater freedom in controlling your actions as it utilizes extra fingers!

Keep on reading to learn all about it!

What is ‘Claw’ on Controller?

What does it mean when someone says they use their controller with a ‘claw grip’?

Claw-gripping is an unorthodox method of holding and using a gamepad wherein users shape their hands like a claw for purposes of using additional fingers.

For example, some games allow you to move your camera with the right analog stick, and if you want to do that action while running, shooting, or performing any other maneuver with the standard buttons, you’d need extra fingers—your forefinger in this case.

How to Play ‘Claw’ on Controller?

To utilize the ‘claw method’ for a controller, you must repurpose your index finger(s) by moving it from the back bumper buttons (R1/L1 on PS) to any front buttons. Afterward, your middle and ring fingers will take over the back trigger duties.

Getting used to playing ‘claw’ on a controller takes some time, and you should keep at it until your index finger(s) adapts to pressing all the front buttons. Also, your ring finger(s) will be weak initially, and you should exercise it by pressing the bottom back button.

Note: This technique can also be used with peripherals like phones and mice.

Who Benefits From the Claw Controller Grip?

The ‘claw grip’ controller approach has become very popular among players with big hands, those who cannot use the conventional method, and pro gamers who compete in tournaments and must maintain a high level of performance at all times.

However, everyday gamers have also started using this method since the benefits outweigh the cons (if there are any) in most cases. Essentially, they can immediately tap a button to execute an action with their free finger without sacrificing a single second—which often makes the difference between a win and a loss in competitive online play.

Which Muscles Are Affected by Playing ‘Claw’?

Playing ‘claw’ guarantees a great gip, but it may come at a price: prolonged use without support may result in muscle, joint, and finger strain, and if you keep at it, long-term dysfunction, chronic pain, and numbness as well!

Why? Because you overexert these muscles:

  1. Palmar Interossei—located between the metacarpals, these paired muscles are responsible for adducting the fingers, and they are already stretched even if you are resting your fingers, let alone twisting your index finger in a ‘claw’ fashion;
  2. First & Second Dorsal Interossei—the dorsal interossei are located behind the palmar ones and are responsible for abducting the digits, i.e., separating your fingers. With the ‘claw’ method, you can overuse these muscles;
  3. Lumbricals of the hand—these small, worm-like muscles on the back of your hand help with the flexion and extension of your fingers. Since they are constantly extended with a ‘claw grip’, they can tighten up after long gaming sessions;
  4. Extensor Digitorum—the ‘claw’ puts significant strain on this muscular extension of the wrist and four of the players’ fingers when they pull the middle finger off the trigger and extend the index finger back to reach the controller’s front buttons;
  5. Extensor Indicis—crucial in reaching certain buttons, this muscle’s overuse in the ‘claw’ can lead to discomfort, fatigue, and pain. Prolonged contractions cause acute burning-like muscle fatigue due to lactic acid build-up;
  6. Flexor Digitorum Superficialis & Profundus—these two long muscles run down the forearm through the carpal tunnel and connect to the front of the fingers. Contrary to the extensor muscles, these flexor muscles bend your wrist inwards.

While the ‘claw grip’ may initially cause discomfort since you’d be overusing the muscles outlined above, you may still be able to condition for it. The process can take time, but the pain should subside. Until it does, remember to take regular breaks!

How to Stay Healthy When Playing ‘Claw’ on Controller?

Is the ‘claw grip’ bad for your hand? It can be when used for an extended period! That’s why it’s vital to implement these tips to prevent fatigue and chronic pain:

  1. Warm up and stretch—lower the risk of injuries and maximize your gaming performance by warming up your muscles with stretches and hand exercises. Ensure that you activate all relevant muscles, as described above;
  2. Take regular breaks—10-minute breaks are crucial to resting tired muscles and recuperating your strength between play sessions; with this routine, you’ll be much better off in the long run and potentially avoid serious injuries;
  3. Keep better posture—posture is also crucial to avoiding overexertion. If you tend to lean your elbows on your thighs or hard-surface armrest, you are at risk of developing cubital tunnel syndrome—inflammation of the ulnar nerve;
  4. Eat and drink regularly—good nutrition is essential to keeping your body healthy and performing optimally. Avoid fatty and sugary drinks and snacks, and instead, eat a varied diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat protein.

Note: In addition to all of the above, you should also conclude each play session with some post-gaming stretching, relaxation, and recovery.

Bottom Line

In a nutshell, using the ‘claw grip’ on a controller often results in a competitive edge since players are able to press more buttons simultaneously. That said, this controller method may also lead to discomfort and pain since the position of and pressure on the fingers may result in joint inflammation. Because of that, you must implement a routine of stretching, resting, and relaxing your hands before, during, and after each play session.


How to play ‘claw’?

Essentially, you must move your index finger(s) from the back bumpers to the standard front buttons. That way, you’ll have extra fingers to use!

Is ‘claw’ better than paddles?

The answer depends on the gamer’s preferences and finger strength. Nonetheless, paddles feel much more natural and are safer than the ‘claw’ method.

Can playing ‘claw’ damage your fingers?

Yes, it can. Due to the position of the fingers and hands when using the ‘claw grip’ on your controller, you’re straining most of your fingers, especially the index one.


Dilyan Dimitrov

Dilyan Dimitrov

A reader who loves writing, a marketer who loves tech, a nerd who loves working out. Dilyan is FOMO personified. If he isn't reading or writing, he's probably either gaming, messing around with something on his PC, or off swimming/cycling somewhere. Oh, or playing Dungeons & Dragons.

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