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Finger injury and hangboarding.


Original Post
Ryan Kelley · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 655

I mildly sprained the flexor tendon in my ring finger bouldering the other day, when I slipped off a problem.  Still have range of motion and no swelling just a little discomfort in my forearm.  Exact same feeling I hand in my other ring finger a year or two ago when I had a similar fall so not worried about it at all.  I am completely confident in my ability to rehab it with no professional medical consultation.

Anyway the real question is. Can/Should I keep training my uninjured index and middle finger while I’m waiting and my uninjured hand or just lay off all grip training period?

This question has nothing to do with rehabbing my injured finger. I am asking if I should keep pushing my uninjured fingers in hangboard training or if I should lay off training them until my injured finger is able to handle max loads again. 

Jp Arico · · Plymouth · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 5

Obviously I am not a doctor, nor a PT, or anything else except some guy on the internet, BUT, I find it hard to isolate fingers in that fashion. When you're using your index and middle fingers you are also unintentionally engaging your ring and pinky fingers as well, albeit not as much. I once tweaked a pinky finger and tried taping it to the ring finger to help stabilize it, and even when I was just using my index and middle fingers it still hurt so I just called it quits that day and rested.

All the bits and tendons are more connected than you think.

Ryan Kelley · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 655
Jp Arico wrote: Obviously I am not a doctor, nor a PT, or anything else except some guy on the internet, BUT, I find it hard to isolate fingers in that fashion. When you're using your index and middle fingers you are also unintentionally engaging your ring and pinky fingers as well, albeit not as much. I once tweaked a pinky finger and tried taping it to the ring finger to help stabilize it, and even when I was just using my index and middle fingers it still hurt so I just called it quits that day and rested.

All the bits and tendons are more connected than you think.

Even with two finger pockets like on a Beastmaker 2000?

Dave Alie · · Golden, CO · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 70

I'm also not an expert here, but if it really is a mild sprain I've had good luck with taking a handful of days off, then starting in on some very light hangboarding. More or less the same protocol I normally use but with much more weight taken off (and avoiding two finger pockets with the injured finger, etc.). If I rest for ~1 week then start slow on the hangboarding I've found I am back to baseline faster than if I just rested, or tried to completely isolate a certain finger, etc.

Again, this is super anecdotal and you'll definitely have to listen to your body. For me, I tend to be okay with very mild discomfort when doing this but pain is an indicator that I'm going too far. Whatever you decide to do, I'd be curious to hear what your thoughts are in hindsight if you think of reviving this thread later on. Good luck!

Jp Arico · · Plymouth · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 5
Ryan Kelley wrote:

Even with two finger pockets like on a Beastmaker 2000?

I'll admit I'm not familiar with that hangboard, but on my board (Metolius Simulator 3D) I find it impossible to not engage all my fingers, even when in a 2-finger pocket. I would mirror Dave's advice and take some rest, and listen to your body when easing back into it. I know it feels like a week is forever but it'll go by quick. In the meantime go clean your gear or reorganize your shed or do the dishes or whatever you may be putting off.

Alexander Stathis · · Athens, GA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 227

Active recovery via hangboarding is actually the recommended recovery method for finger tendon injuries these days. Obviously this statement requires qualification, so a nice resource is this Training Beta Podcast episode. If only hangboarding wasn't so god damned boring. The other place to look might be Dave MacCleod's books: Make it or Break It and 10 Mistakes Climbers Make. I've never read them, although I've been meaning to.

The idea is basically to stimulate blood and lymph fluid flow to the area through use and stimulation. Using a hangboard allows you a lot of control over how much stimulation, since it's not static and you can take or add weight.

I've used the hangboard in some more or less unstructured ways to heal some pulley strains (no actual acute incident or swelling, just soreness), and you can heal up a finger in just a few weeks if you're diligent and self disciplined (no hard, dynamic climbing!).

Good luck.

Ryan Kelley · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 655
Alexander Stathis wrote: Active recovery via hangboarding is actually the recommended recovery method for finger tendon injuries these days. Obviously this statement requires qualification, so a nice resource is this Training Beta Podcast episode. If only hangboarding wasn't so god damned boring. The other place to look might be Dave MacCleod's books: Make it or Break It and 10 Mistakes Climbers Make. I've never read them, although I've been meaning to.

The idea is basically to stimulate blood and lymph fluid flow to the area through use and stimulation. Using a hangboard allows you a lot of control over how much stimulation, since it's not static and you can take or add weight.

I've used the hangboard in some more or less unstructured ways to heal some pulley strains (no actual acute incident or swelling, just soreness), and you can heal up a finger in just a few weeks if you're diligent and self disciplined (no hard, dynamic climbing!).

Good luck.

So my question isn’t concerning the injured fingers. The protocol I use for that is dialed in regarding the hangboard. 


What I’m asking is should I try to keep training the uninjured fingers at a higher level or forget training them at all until all fingers are 100% healthy. 

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195
Alexander Stathis wrote: Active recovery via hangboarding is actually the recommended recovery method for finger tendon injuries these days. Obviously this statement requires qualification, so a nice resource is this Training Beta Podcast episode. If only hangboarding wasn't so god damned boring. The other place to look might be Dave MacCleod's books: Make it or Break It and 10 Mistakes Climbers Make. I've never read them, although I've been meaning to.

The idea is basically to stimulate blood and lymph fluid flow to the area through use and stimulation. Using a hangboard allows you a lot of control over how much stimulation, since it's not static and you can take or add weight.

I've used the hangboard in some more or less unstructured ways to heal some pulley strains (no actual acute incident or swelling, just soreness), and you can heal up a finger in just a few weeks if you're diligent and self disciplined (no hard, dynamic climbing!).

Good luck.

Same.  I’ve found that most injuries are caused by dynamic loading (bouldering), and the static, controlled nature of hangboarding makes it ideal to slowly ease back into climbing.

· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0

This article is good. Finger board training is the last stage in the rehab
https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/features/injury_management_and_prevention_fingers-6193

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 735
Ryan Kelley wrote:

So my question isn’t concerning the injured fingers. The protocol I use for that is dialed in regarding the hangboard. 


What I’m asking is should I try to keep training the uninjured fingers at a higher level or forget training them at all until all fingers are 100% healthy. 

Another not-a-dr here, but from personal experience I would say that you should pause the training of the uninjured fingers on the injured hand, even on two finger pocket, and then rehab the ring finger and restart. 

The tendon of the ring finger actually has some cross-connections to middle finger at the base where fingers separate and lower, so you might be still straining it some, even if you aren’t hanging on your ring finger, just because if the transfer from the middle finger. 
This is a link that talks about the better way to hold 2-finger pockets (Middle/ring), which isn’t relevant for what you are asking, but part of the article is  talking just about the anatomy/connection of tendons on different fingers, and IMO that is relevant in your case.  
Climbing dr link
Ryan Kelley · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 655
Lena chita wrote:

Another not-a-dr here, but from personal experience I would say that you should pause the training of the uninjured fingers on the injured hand, even on two finger pocket, and then rehab the ring finger and restart. 

The tendon of the ring finger actually has some cross-connections to middle finger at the base where fingers separate and lower, so you might be still straining it some, even if you aren’t hanging on your ring finger, just because if the transfer from the middle finger. 
This is a link that talks about the better way to hold 2-finger pockets (Middle/ring), which isn’t relevant for what you are asking, but part of the article is  talking just about the anatomy/connection of tendons on different fingers, and IMO that is relevant in your case.  
Climbing dr link

Thanks for being the first person to actually read what I wrote and not just respond to the title. 

J Squared · · santa barbara, CA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0
Ryan Kelley wrote:

Thanks for being the first person to actually read what I wrote and not just respond to the title. 

the reason most people are not engaging your specific question is that it's based on kind of a fallacy.

what is your goal with "training" ?

you seem to be so focused on 'gainz' that you think you can isolate individual fingers and keep "reaching new heights"

let's first assume that you even can "isolate individual fingers for training".
if you carry on pushing your good fingers, this will leave your ring finger at a deficit.  what will you do once you think your ring finger is "healed".  if you carry on attempting to isolate the first 2 fingers, this will leave you with an unbalanced hand.   will you then push training only your ring finger in an attempt to re-balance your hand? do you not think this idea might introduce re-injury?

now let's bring some biology into it.
your fingers are actually not individual entities when it comes to looking at the Muscle/Tendon system as a whole. (at least... for gripping.. yes the extensors are separate.. but if you are engaging a grip with your fingers... but try to extend one or two of them.. you're actually engaging the flexor and extension muscles at once and they have a little fight)

http://www.assh.org/handcare/Anatomy/Tendons 

"Flexor digitorum profundus tendons help bend the index, middle, ring, and small fingers at the fingertip joint. The muscle that moves these tendons is a common muscle belly shared by all the fingers. The muscle belly divides into 4 tendons.
Flexor digitorum superficialis tendons help bend the index, middle, ring, and small fingers at the middle finger joint.  They are powered by a common muscle belly shared by all the fingers, which divides into 4 tendons. "

so does that begin to answer your question about whether you actually can "train your individual fingers in an isolated manner"??
Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 569

Why don't you try it?
If your injured ring finger hurts a lot, or seems to be getting worse with training, then stop.

Alexander Stathis · · Athens, GA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 227
Ryan Kelley wrote:

So my question isn’t concerning the injured fingers. The protocol I use for that is dialed in regarding the hangboard. 


What I’m asking is should I try to keep training the uninjured fingers at a higher level or forget training them at all until all fingers are 100% healthy. 

I guess I didn't explicitly state my position, which is that I'd probably stop training my other fingers and just do a rehab program for my injured finger which is going to utilize my entire hand. 

Ryan Kelley · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 655
J Squared wrote:

the reason most people are not engaging your specific question is that it's based on kind of a fallacy.

what is your goal with "training" ?

you seem to be so focused on 'gainz' that you think you can isolate individual fingers and keep "reaching new heights"

let's first assume that you even can "isolate individual fingers for training".
if you carry on pushing your good fingers, this will leave your ring finger at a deficit.  what will you do once you think your ring finger is "healed".  if you carry on attempting to isolate the first 2 fingers, this will leave you with an unbalanced hand.   will you then push training only your ring finger in an attempt to re-balance your hand? do you not think this idea might introduce re-injury?

now let's bring some biology into it.
your fingers are actually not individual entities when it comes to looking at the Muscle/Tendon system as a whole.

http://www.assh.org/handcare/Anatomy/Tendons 

"Flexor digitorum profundus tendons help bend the index, middle, ring, and small fingers at the fingertip joint. The muscle that moves these tendons is a common muscle belly shared by all the fingers. The muscle belly divides into 4 tendons.
Flexor digitorum superficialis tendons help bend the index, middle, ring, and small fingers at the middle finger joint.  They are powered by a common muscle belly shared by all the fingers, which divides into 4 tendons. "

so does that begin to answer your question about whether you actually can "train your individual fingers in an isolated manner"??

Thanks!  That was exactly what I was looking for. Sorry it wasn’t as clear as I thought it would be, but you were able to cut to exactly what I was looking for. 

Ryan Kelley · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 655
Alexander Stathis wrote:

I guess I didn't explicitly state my position, which is that I'd probably stop training my other fingers and just do a rehab program for my injured finger which is going to utilize my entire hand. 

Cool exactly what I was looking for, and the path that I’ll follow.

Ryan Kelley · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 655

If anyone follows up I ended up taking no time off climbing then did the Esther Smith protocol found here.  I mainly climbed in the gym for the six weeks following the injury and would get tweeky discomfort in my ring finger and forearm on slopers after I would get tired so I would dial it back and end the session shortly after that. 

https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_US/experience-story?cid=esther-smith-nagging-finger-injuries

I started the hangboarding approx 6 weeks after the injury and within 4 weeks I was hanging 2F 2P edges on the BM1000 with +45 pounds for 10 seconds and could do the 2F 1P edge at BW with no symptoms.  After I was hanging the 45 pounds I quit the protocol and haven’t had any symptoms since. 

Alexander Stathis · · Athens, GA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 227
Ryan Kelley wrote: If anyone follows up I ended up taking no time off climbing then did the Esther Smith protocol found here.  I mainly climbed in the gym for the six weeks following the injury and would get tweeky discomfort in my ring finger and forearm on slopers after I would get tired so I would dial it back and end the session shortly after that.

https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_US/experience-story?cid=esther-smith-nagging-finger-injuries

I started the hangboarding approx 6 weeks after the injury and within 4 weeks I was hanging 2F 2P edges on the BM1000 with +45 pounds for 10 seconds and could do the 2F 1P edge at BW with no symptoms.  After I was hanging the 45 pounds I quit the protocol and haven’t had any symptoms since. 

Out of curiosity, what was your baseline?  Is +45 on the 2F2P pockets a typical hang for you? Did you train heavier weight normally?

Ryan Kelley · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 655

No idea, I never hangboarded seriously before and never on a BM. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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