Finger aches... should I worry?


Original Post
John RB · · Superior, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 10

I just started climbing again after 15 years on the couch. Climbing moderates only.

After maybe 30-40 pitches over the last 2 months, my fingers hurt. Not injured, but aching and painful in the mornings around the usual spots (PIP, DIP, A2, etc).

I really really don't want to get injured. That absolutely my #1 priority in coming back right now. So, a question for you all:

Is some discomfort and achiness to be expected for a 54-yr old comeback kid? Or am I flirting with the beginnings of an RSI?

If I take 3 days off, no more pain, but it will come back as soon as I climb even a 5.7. Only aching at rest... once I start moving, all feels fine.

Brent Apgar · · Out of the Loop · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 35

Sounds like the "normal" crankiness of connective tissue adapting to an unfamiliar stress on the system.

I have 2 criteria that I use w/ my clients.
1) If it's painful to the point that you don't want to continue the activity or
2) If you notice that you're losing function (strength, range of motion, endurance...) over time

Either of these is an issue and needs to be addressed, usually by a professional.

Most folks are familiar w/ muscle soreness during training and used to it's ebb and flow.
Bone and connective tissue will also be sore as they adapt to the stresses of training. However, it's not the same sensation, doesn't resolve as quickly as muscle soreness and can come and go for weeks or months.

Just my opinion but I feel that a lot of nagging little aches that don't actually negatively impact performance are misdiagnosed as tendonitis, tedonosis, RSI or some other label.
Not to say that it's fine to ignore this warning and just forge ahead. But no reason to freak out and stop everything since chances are it's just going to happen again once you've ramped back up the same intensity level.

Good luck w/ the training and look into throwing some forearm and hand specific recovery therapies in the routine if it's not already.
cheers,
BA

ze dirtbag · · TBD · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 5

There are a ton of finger warm ups, pick one or a few of them you like and do them throughout the day. Blood flow is your friend. Even some super mellow hangboarding does a good job of getting blood circulating.

Daniel Joder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

I am 58 and came back two years ago after a 30-year hiatus. I, too, had sore fingers (still do sometimes) especially after going to the gym. As Brent said above, your fingers are trying hard to adapt. I think that's probably right. I found that I had to be very careful about overdoing it--especially in the gym. That was and is hard for me to do as my enthusiasm is always trying to cash checks my older body can't pay for. Go slow. Take time off. The climbs will still be there next week. At least, that's what I tell myself. I have a climbing buddy, also in his late fifties, and he tapes the joints on his hands after a gym session and he thinks that helps.

John RB · · Superior, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 10

Thanks all!

I think I'm probably ok... the achiness is really only there first thing in the morning or while I'm sitting at my desk job. If I'm warmed up (even from a walk down the street) I have no pain or soreness.

So I guess I'll just proceed cautiously, thoroughly warm up, and resist the HUGE temptation to climb higher grades right now. As another older climber tells me, "people don't get injured climbing 5.8"

John

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438

After hangboarding or climbing particularly crimpy routes I typically have a dull ache in my fingers. These little "acupressure rings" sound really gimmicky, but they have greatly reduced the time of aches/stiffness last for me:
https://www.amazon.com/Goda-Acupressure-Massage-Rings-Set/dp/B00G2G22IO

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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