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Put more pressure on finger tips while crimp?

Original Post
Lukasz Czopyk · · Krakow, Poland · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 10

At first: long time reader (really appreciating professional level of this forum), first time poster; I am from Poland(EU) so sorry for poor English, specially in technical matters.

In this post I generally reference following articles:

My issue is related to frustrating tendency I have observed a time ago (outside) but was finally able to pinpoint during gym training few days ago. It is an inclination to position the hand and palms in the way, that during crimping (no thumb) contact between palms and hold takes place not over the phalanges (distal ones) but rather at DIP joints. If the hold is that shallow that I cannot fit whole distal phalanges into, I try to extend the wrist (upwards) and overextend the DIP joint to make a friction contact between hold's edge and DIP joint's skin surface. It can be seen to some extent in Art1. Figure 3 left, but very tips of my fingers are pointing more upwards in the futile attempt to "fit" DIP joint more "into" hold.
It has at least following impact on my climbing:
1. Problems with skin on the DIP joint surface, no tendons injury so far,
2. Problems with optimal friction on holds. Imagine the foot-on campus, starting from straight arms pointing upwards, bent knees. I make a far reach with (f.i) left, right hand remains below. So far so good, until I start to make a high step. Since I elevate COG (~hips), the elbow of the right hand is going upwards. And now: with described above tendency, and my overextended wrist I very fast notice that the range of motion of the wrist finishes. It make a problem of stability of the contact and very often my bottom hand slides off (happens actually in all cases where elbows needs to be relatively high)
3. Terrible strain in forearm wrist and fingers flexors. In above situation, to preserve the posture my bottom hand is used not only to hang on hold, but rather to attract the hips close to the wall or even presses upwards. Because of this, while COG is going upwards, the wrist/fingers flexors has to exert huge (too big?) force working under condition of being significantly extended due to described tendency. The immediate effect is that I feel the strain in forearm and literally speaking 2-3 static moves similar to described above leaves me out of puff. The range of forces, that I try to exert to preserve enough friction seems to be much higher to these generated on HB during free hangs, or at least strains suffered by forearm flexors are much higher since in HB the body hangs below hands and wrists are ~relaxed.

I guess that this tendency stems from the fact, that if I utilize DIP joint in a place of fingertip as a point of contact with hold, force required to uphold the mass of my body can be lower while free hanging with crimp grip due to arm between DIP and PIP joints is shorter than distance of fingertip - PIP joint. Its ok, but works ONLY for static hangs below deep holds and does not take into account this effort required to exert force with elongated muscle suffered in all other situations.
It is obvious, that it could be better not to leave fingertips "free" and non-forced (and base on surface of DIP joint skin) but rather try to use "pressurized" phalanges to make a friction with more "closed" palms/finger tips:
- it would allow to effectively use shallow holds of more slippery surface (Polish limestone is really slippery and it would definitely allow to climb harder, specially that I am relatively well built and trying to bring hips close to wall is important)
- it would limit the strain of finger flexors while hands are not straight upwards,
- it would save a skin/tendons.

Accordingly to Art 2. Figure 7 it is what "good" climbers do: they are rather trying to fit the finger tips into roots of the upper surface of holds, trying to utilize friction from narrower surface.

Here is my question: do You experienced climbers, has any suggestions or advises? What HB training should I utilize to overcome this tendency? I would be very grateful for any examples of specific grips focused on strengthening of DIP joints, distal phalanx flexion etc.

With regards,

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294

I'm having trouble visualizing how you crimp based just on the description. Maybe others are having the same problem, that's why the lack of response. If you post a picture of how you crimp, maybe that will help.

Lukasz Czopyk · · Krakow, Poland · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 10
Photo 1

Photo 2

Hi, thanks for suggestion.
I attach two photos, taken at my home campus. The rung depth is ~23mm deep, and obviously I am not hanging on the hold while taking the picture so the hand is not loaded. I want to emphasize, that both photos pictures deliberately exaggerated crimps, to better show my point.

Photo 1: my "unproper" crimp tendency. As You can see, despite the hold is decent, I am trying to press the DIP joint into the edge. For some reason, (subconsciously?) I am trying to trigger the friction between the hold and the finger at the point of the joint, despite the phalanx could fit (it is lifted instead). I think that it leads to undesirable wrist extension and shortening of the tendons.

Photot 2: (I think) better cimp. Simple - the load is supported by the phalanx (once more: to exaggerate the tendency I slightly bent palm down, probably two more distal phalanxes would be more or less in line, in real).

Nathan Self · · Louisiana · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 90

yes, photo 2 is better.

";Here is my question: do You experienced climbers, has any suggestions or advises?";

...uh, practice making better crimps?

try leaning off of doorways by crimping the trim.

Jon Frisby · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 100

My half (no thumb) crimp is somewhere between those photos. It's largely a relative finger length question, and there's definitely something to lifting the tips very slightly in order to get more skin on the hold, but that left picture is overexaggerated.

I think if you practice an open hand or drag grip you will gain more confidence in your strength in the first digit, which may cross over into giving you the confidence to use a less exaggerated half crimp.

JNE · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,940

I typically either open hand stuff or use the half crimp (which I define to be the hand position you have in picture #2 in the above post, except with the hand elevated relative to the hold so that the tips lie flat on the hold instead of the DIP joint contacting the hold with the finger tips free). The more extreme version of this grip is for me the "full crimp" which due to my finger lengths I prefer to just either squeeze the thumb against the side of the hold right below where my pointer (index) finger contacts the rock, or to just squeeze the thumb against the side of my index finger. I have never developed proper technique for wrapping the thumb over so I avoid this extreme of a grip, and I am not clear if it is a finger length thing or a mental/never practice it thing.

In any case I like to use the open handed technique to hang on holds, the half crimp for anything I have to lock off on and move past (this way I can rotate my hand up and drive my tips into the hold similar to a ballerina front-pointing on their big toe, and at the same time I wont be overgripping), and the full crimp for when I have to do a very controlled and deep, or high intensity lockoff. The more you are on your tips, and so the more you can roll up onto them as you move past the hold, the better this hold will be as you raise your COG.

I like the open hand for hanging on holds because the contact point of the edge of the hold on my fingers is the closest possible to the palm and so has the shortest lever arm, which I think is what you are going for with the DIP theory of grabbing holds.

As far as training any of these grip strengths for climbing, my theory is to hypertrophy my forearms using a standard half crimp or open hand, and to train these muscles to specific isometries using holds on actual climbing challenges. Extra bonus points get awarded for accomplishing these things simultaneously.

Lukasz Czopyk · · Krakow, Poland · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 10

I have just got back from short training session on local wall (only toproping, easy lines 2 grades below max RP) during which I was trying to turn (over)attention into very sequence of grabbing->latching->lifting->release of every hold.
What I can say: "manipulation" of all holds of depth enought to fit DPs into, is far easier when I grab them with finger tips (like in photo 2 above). This specially influences the "motion" aspects of utilizing the hold: movement stages, when You non-isometrically put force on hold to move COG. The result is less pump and limited forearms soreness, what underlines point 3rd in my first post: it seems, that especially "movement" capabilities are badly affected by this tendency. The effect was clearly visible despite I was climbing far slower than usually, had to readjust "photo 1" crimps into "photo 2", etc.

I will try to study this in the closest future, but the advice for open crimp HB hangs seems reasonable.


Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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