Do your fingers go numb while crack climbing?


Original Post
Ryan Dirks · · Eugene, OR · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 0

The other day I climbed a finger crack near my limit (5.10-), and at the top realized that one of my fingers is numb again. I'd say this happens roughly a quarter of the time I climb vertical finger cracks that are difficult for me. It will be numb for a few days and gradually return. Is this common when you're climbing near your limit, or is it possible to prevent this with improved technique? I've been working on crack climbing for close to 2 years so I think I'm at least somewhat competent...

I'm assuming this is just part of the game but am curious how much this happens to others. I'm also wondering if anyone has had any long term injuries related to this.

Danger-Russ Gordon · · Tempe, AZ · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 200

It's never happened to me, or anyone I climb with. It's likely not common, but I could only speculate to how serious the implications of your condition are. might be worth swinging by a doctor, but that can be frustratingly unenlightening. Good luck.

Todd Anderson · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 0

The skin on the outsides of my fingers often go numb when hanging from bomber finger locks, the kind that you could hang your entire body weight off of without feeling like your hands are doing any work. Only the skin being crushed into the rock goes numb though. Back when I was working a steep finger crack with these sorts of locks, the outsides of my pinkies and index fingers would have reduced feeling for a few days or weeks after climbing.

Sometimes I will lose feeling in an entire finger for a few minutes if I pinch a nerve on the back of my hand while hand jamming in a knobbly crack.

Ryan Dirks · · Eugene, OR · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 0

I'm also thinking the rock type might have something to do with it. This was in a basalt crack that was fairly smooth, with small irregularities you can use to lock a finger in place. I don't think I have had this happen in granite as much, as it seems like you don't have to crank so hard to get it to stick.

Maybe a quarter is an overly large estimate, but it has definitely happened more than once. If nobody else has this issue I will definitely be more concerned!

Luc-514 · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 8,393

Had a friend that had lost feeling in two fingers for over a month after pulling over a roof with a tight finger lock...

rocknice2 · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 2,958
Luc wrote:Had a friend that had lost feeling in two fingers for over a month after pulling over a roof with a tight finger lock...
Most people would have lost feeling in their entire body pulling that roof. If it's the roof and guy I'm thinking of.
John Tex · · Estes · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 0

I get numb on the right side of my hand, from the tip of my pinkie to my wrist. Feels like it's asleep when I touch it. Happens on fist cracks.

Had it happen on the other side of my hand when I was trying to get out of handcuffs. Just having a little fun. Doc said I just damaged a nerve, no big deal. They grow back or regenerate (not sure of proper term) very slowly. Took me about three months. However I've had the right side of my hand stay numb for about 5 months now cuz I keep climbing fist cracks. Sometimes I feel a shock shooting through there when I jam in a particular soft spot.

BrokenChairs · · Seattle · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 182

I had this happen to my right middle finger after climbing a finger crack. The feeling came back about 4-5 days later but hasn't bugged me since last July when it happened. Not sure what the cause is but you probably should go see what the Dr. has to say about it.

Andrew Vinzant · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 303

I had my right thumb go numb for several weeks after climbing the Moab Super Crack, definitely at my limit also.

mac gilbert · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2011 · Points: 0

I have had experiences like yours. It has happened to a finger maybe 2 or 3 times where it took a significant amount of time for feeling to come back. Maybe a week or two? I cant remember exactly. When this has occurred, it has felt like my finger was asleep. Like you, this has happened to me when i have been climbing hard. I attribute it to jamming my finger to hard,when a nerve is between a knuckle and the rock, and it just pinches the nerve. I have not had any long term impact from this. Dont know what to tell you but hope it helps to know someone has had a similar experience.

ChadMartino · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

My fingers go numb if the rock really cold and Im a little gripped, it happens. Never had it from just crack climbing.

Chad Miller · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 0

This could be pint chef nerve type thing. I've never had a finger go numb while crack climbing but have had my feet get tingly while trying a toe jamb. The numbness agent away right after releasing the jamb.

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

I had nerve damage once while climbing on a 6c(5.11a) finger crack, that took about 2-3 months to regain feeling in 3 of my fingers (2 on the right 1 on the left).

ClimbLikeAGirl · · Keene Valley · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 0
Chad Miller wrote:This could be pint chef nerve type thing. I've never had a finger go numb while crack climbing but have had my feet get tingly while trying a toe jamb. The numbness agent away right after releasing the jamb.
Sorry, I have to digress for a sec. I love the autocorrected mess in this post. A Pint Chef. Sounds adorable.

As for your numbness, it sounds like nerve damage. Probably worth getting checked out to rule out other, scarier things. For an extreme example, my sister was complaining about on and off numbness in her hands for a while and it was later reviled to be caused by a fairly severe neurological issue. Not saying you have this same thing, but a doctor could probably help.
Chad Miller · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 0

Hehe, my I phone made a joke!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply