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Pulley Tear and Indian Creek
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Mar 3, 2012
I suffered what I'm pretty sure was a partial rupture of the A2 pulley in my ring finger while bouldering six weeks ago. My spotters heard the pop, and the base of my finger is still sometimes a bit swollen. I'm icing and not climbing. I had this same injury five years ago and took over six months off from any sort of climbing. I'd rather not do that this time around.

I'm considering a trip to the creek in April. I've tested my finger with a bit of light handjamming and it doesn't seem to aggravate things. Still, it'd be a shame to drive all the way out there and just hurt myself again. I'm more concerned with getting healthy than with climbing, but obviously I'd like to get back to climbing as soon as is reasonable.

Does anyone have experience climbing at the Creek after a pulley injury? I'm thinking I would head out there about 10 weeks after hurting my finger.
Joined Aug 15, 2007
150 points
Mar 3, 2012
Your good. Ten weeks is plenty of time to rest and give it a solid chance to heal. Are you an experienced crack climber? If you are you shouldn't be stressing the pulley the same way you do while bouldering. Was it a crimp that did it? If you are not that experience at indian creek style you might find that one face hold on the route and try to rip it off the cliff. My first couple of times out there I was trying to get out of the crack every chance I got. At first my feet just couldn't take the constant foot in a vise feeling. If you get out there and it is bothering you it isn't the worst place to hang out but I bet the back of your hands will hurt more than your pulley.

Its been my practice that if I injure a pulley I take two to three weeks off and ice as much as possible. After that I tape it up and get back to climbing and try to stay off routes with small crimps. I have never heard a pop though so your injury may have been more severe that anything I have experienced.
Joined Sep 30, 2008
505 points
Mar 3, 2012
El Chorro
If it's not healed well enough to climb then it's not healed well enough to climb - doesn't matter what type of climbing you're doing. Of course bouldering and crimpy stuff will put more stress on the finger than cracks, but don't under-estimate the amount of stress put on your fingers when crack climbing. Ryan Williams
From London (sort of)
Joined May 10, 2009
1,468 points
Mar 3, 2012
You will find much excellent info here. Scroll down the page for pulley info. The ice therapy is awesome if you can dial it in.


This thing works shockingly well at getting blood into your finger, which will make you heal much faster. No it is not a sex toy.


And this stuff will help bring down the swelling so it can heal faster. Get the cream, not the gel. It is available at whole foods or most other places like it.

Traumeel Anti inflammatory cream

Hand cracks and OW were my solace during my injury healing last year. Have fun, dont crimp anything for a while!
From Estes Park, CO
Joined Sep 28, 2006
167 points
Mar 3, 2012
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
Check out the other pulley tendon injury thread here at MP. Several victims agree it often takes up to 6 months for that finger to get back to strength. Don't over do it or re-injure again soon. Woodchuck ATC
Joined Nov 29, 2007
3,092 points
Mar 3, 2012
Take this with a large grain of salt as I'm far from an expert, but I had the exact same thing happen to me several years ago. Mine was also a bouldering injury: a2 in the left ring finger (loud pop like snapping your fingers) about 7 weeks before a Creek trip. I stuck to primarily hand-sized and up and was mostly fine. I do remember a bit of pain in the cupped range, but was able to alter my style a bit to make it work.

Edit to add: After the trip I continued to rest from climbing for many more weeks..
Joined Sep 27, 2006
362 points
Mar 3, 2012
Sam Perkins; Ground-up FA; named because it's big ...
There is no guideline with respect to time except to give yourself at least two weeks more than when you think it's healed. After rupturing my A1 (ring finger) I took 8mo off and it can still get tender. I still can't mtbike without soreness, but I can climb.

You may want to consider heat cycling instead of mere icing. Also squeezing a soft ball I've read is a good idea.

I'm highly skeptical of climbing injured. I've often regretted doing it myself. The only form of climbing I found where I could completely avoid my ring finger was crimping, and it was hard finding climbs which ONLY had crimps (I swore bloody murder when I had to use a jug).

Good luck with the finger
From Oakridge, OR
Joined Jan 18, 2010
81 points
Mar 5, 2012
On Waimea, 5.10d
JasonJNSmith wrote:
Its been my practice that if I injure a pulley I take two to three weeks off and ice as much as possible. After that I tape it up and get back to climbing and try to stay off routes with small crimps. I have never heard a pop though so your injury may have been more severe that anything I have experienced.

^This has been my experience, too. I've only heard of people taking many months off from climbing for severe pulley injuries...multiple pulley ruptures, loud popping noises, visible bowstringing, etc.

After 10 weeks rest, as long as you stick to a strict no-crimp diet, you should be fine. Think of it as a rehabilitation climbing trip. Climb a lot of easier finger-friendly routes, stimulate the injury to encourage quicker healing but don't overdo it, maybe focus on a weak point (Off-width, for many people). Good luck! Pulley injuries suck!
Charles Kinbote
From Brooklyn, NY
Joined Jan 30, 2012
6 points
Jan 13, 2013
Update on my pulley injury:

My trip to the Creek 10 weeks out from the pop was excellent. I was able to climbing all sizes of cracks, although I took it easy on the cupped hands. Surprisingly, finger cracks and even liebacking wasn't t a problem at all. At that point, I was still incapable of crimping hard on the steep limestone that we have here in Texas.

I took several more months off and then spent all of July on the road. I spent the majority of this trip in Squamish where the vertical cracks and face climbing did not pose a problem. I stayed away from the bouldering. At that point, the base of my ring finger was still slightly tender to firm touch, but it never bothered me while climbing.

In August, eight months out from my injury, I spent a month in the gym. I was able to climb fine but I still felt like I should take it easy on steep crimpy problems. My finger would sometimes ache a bit after climbing.

Its now a been a full year since my finger injury. I've been in the gym and back on steep limestone with no squawking whatsoever from my finger. I think I'm basically 100% healed although I'm still hesitant (probably mostly out of habit) to really push myself on tweaky and steep boulder problems.

As for climbing at Indian Creek with a pulley injury, I think its a great idea. It really gets the blood moving in the fingers and forearms and doesn't stress the pulley at all. I'm not sure if it sped up my recovery, but it sure was fun.
Joined Aug 15, 2007
150 points

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