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Avoiding (tendon / pulley) injury as beginning climber?
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Jun 16, 2016
Hey all,

So I'm a brand new climber, only been at it a couple weeks, but I can already tell that I'm in this for the long run. I'm trying to take things relatively slowly and focus on building a solid foundation of technique...

And I know I should also focus on building my body up to these new stresses and strains, but to be honest I don't know exactly how to do that? I've been climbing almost every day for three weeks straight now, which is probably (?) putting me at risk for tendon / pulley injury? Well, I don't know. That's my question, I guess. How much climbing is too much all at once? How do I strengthen the right parts of my body to avoid injury? I'd hate to wreck my fingers right out of the starting gate.

Ideas? Advice?

Thanks :)
E. Colleen
Joined Jun 8, 2016
0 points
Jun 16, 2016
Warm up, warm up, warm up... Even spending 5-15 minutes on an exercise bike gets the blood pumping to your fingers. Carly D
From Albuquerque, NM
Joined Jul 29, 2014
5 points
Jun 16, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Best climbing pants EVER
There's no magic formula for maximum hours per week of climbing. It depends on intensity of your workouts, genetics, the types of holds you favor, etc

One thing you can do is learn to climb open handed instead of closed crimping. Develop your open hand strength early and you will have a longer more fruitful climbing career. I see people closed crimping on V3s in the gym and wince.

Listen to Dave Macleod: onlineclimbingcoach.blogspot.c...
Jon H
From Boulder
Joined Nov 24, 2009
138 points
Jun 16, 2016
I take about 15 mins and slow climb the V-easy and V0s on the vert or near vert walls. I emphasize stretching on the route and breathing fully. Then about 5 mins of stretching, then I start ramping up my workout (even if it is a weights day and not a climbing day, I do this warm up). So much yes for open hand crimps v close hand. A lot of people save close hand for outside projects since they cause so much strain on your pulleys. If your a boulderer: for a warm up, don't jump down if they end in a double hand match, down climb; your body might not be loose enough so early in the workout to take the jolt, getting old sucks.

Its awesome that you're so jazzed on climbing! Take a few days off here and there to replenish your body's stores! Never go so hard you can't hang on a jug, never go so hard your form starts to deteriorate. Once this happens, stop immediately, take the next day or two off then you can come back. Rest is just as important as climbing, let your body repair what you did to it and then hammer away at it again.

I am also a believer in antagonistic muscle work outs too, so doing like pushups and forearm rolls and twists with a light dumbbell (like 5-8 lbs) helps out tons.
Rando Calrissian
Joined Apr 23, 2016
5 points
Jun 16, 2016
They sell a tincture at my gym called iron monkey finger formula, ironmonkeyclimbing.com.
It helps me with tendon and joint pain pre and post climbing. There is no oil in it so it doesn't make my hands greasy. I dig it
Erik Allsopp
Joined Nov 3, 2008
8 points
Jun 16, 2016
+1 develope a workout routine that works antagonistic muscle groups (muscle climbing doesn't use). Many tendon injuries are from muscle imbalance. Especially the infamous "climbers elbow". Brian L.
Joined Feb 19, 2016
81 points
Jun 16, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: After a very very damp and cold evening climbing o...
Just don't train on finger boards, and no full crimps, the only 2 things you need to know. that guy named seb
Joined Oct 24, 2015
182 points
Jun 16, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: The crux of 6' man roof (5.11d).
that guy named seb wrote:
Just don't train on finger boards


Not sure I would recommend it to the op who has been climbing for a few weeks, but I feel like hang boards have done a lot to reduce the stress on my tendons. Hang boards allow you to slowly increase load in a very controlled manner (unlike bouldering) and now I can usually hang onto small holds openhanded when others are using full crimps.
will ar
From San Antonio, TX
Joined Jan 11, 2010
231 points
Jun 16, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: After a very very damp and cold evening climbing o...
will ar wrote:
Not sure I would recommend it to the op who has been climbing for a few weeks, but I feel like hang boards have done a lot to reduce the stress on my tendons. Hang boards allow you to slowly increase load in a very controlled manner (unlike bouldering) and now I can usually hang onto small holds openhanded when others are using full crimps.

Most people don't start out strong so they probably wont be able to do the moves to get to the hold.
that guy named seb
Joined Oct 24, 2015
182 points
Jun 16, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: beck on limestone
Rando Calrissian wrote:
I take about 15 mins and slow climb the V-easy and V0s on the vert or near vert walls. I emphasize stretching on the route and breathing fully. Then about 5 mins of stretching, then I start ramping up my workout (even if it is a weights day and not a climbing day, I do this warm up). So much yes for open hand crimps v close hand. A lot of people save close hand for outside projects since they cause so much strain on your pulleys. If your a boulderer: for a warm up, don't jump down if they end in a double hand match, down climb; your body might not be loose enough so early in the workout to take the jolt, getting old sucks. Its awesome that you're so jazzed on climbing! Take a few days off here and there to replenish your body's stores! Never go so hard you can't hang on a jug, never go so hard your form starts to deteriorate. Once this happens, stop immediately, take the next day or two off then you can come back. Rest is just as important as climbing, let your body repair what you did to it and then hammer away at it again. I am also a believer in antagonistic muscle work outs too, so doing like pushups and forearm rolls and twists with a light dumbbell (like 5-8 lbs) helps out tons.

----------------------------------------
I'd say you are at some risk and once you get a finger injury it is gonna suck!

Second what Rando said....On the psychological side your mind needs time to assimilate and organize the new things you are learning. Always pre-stretch and warm down. Take deliberate days off.
Thomas Beck
From Las Vegas, Nevada
Joined Feb 5, 2006
1,048 points
Jun 16, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Epic belay shot
Do any move with strong control, if something feels out of control and like you have to 'jump for it' don't, instead take a moment to plan and climb statically. If your muscles are engaged while you make a move to a controlled hold you'll be much more likely to get strong without shock loading something and getting hurt.

Ah and if you're hitting off of a small pocket that you know you can't catch body weight off of plan to let go if a foot slips or w/e moving off of that hold. Avoids the fall where you don't have a plan and end up shock loading your fingers in a pocket
Medic741
From Red Hook, New York
Joined Apr 1, 2012
288 points
Jun 16, 2016
that guy named seb wrote:
Just don't train on finger boards, and no full crimps, the only 2 things you need to know.


+1 for not on hangboards yet. Wait until you are stronger and have impeccable form and body awareness (a year ish?????). If you hangboard wrong, yer gonna get hurt. If you get hurt you have to take off a good chunk of time from climbing. You like climbing, so don't get hurt; simple gangsta.
Rando Calrissian
Joined Apr 23, 2016
5 points
Jun 16, 2016
Early in my climbing I was plagued by finger injuries. However, I've found a solution that has worked amazingly. Here it is: lay on the ground and smash your forearms with a barbell or other heavy object. In my experience, the pully injuries come from too much tension in the forearms. Smash, smash, smash and you will be free of injury. Nathan Renner 1
Joined May 12, 2016
0 points
Jun 28, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: El Classico V0
Listen to your body, make sure you rest. If you're climbing at a beginning level you probably won't put your fingers at much risk climbing every day. Warm up before you try anything hard.

Stay away from specific climbing training until you have built a solid base of skills and technique.

Stay away from the hangboard for a couple of years. Stay away from the campus board for even longer.
Brandon.Phillips
From Alabama
Joined May 13, 2011
71 points
Jun 28, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: #AnchorSelfie atop Sand People
Jon H wrote:
One thing you can do is learn to climb open handed instead of closed crimping.


^^
This.
Daniel Kaye
From Boston, ma
Joined Nov 9, 2014
271 points
Jun 29, 2016
Just go climb friction slabs all day. You'll never strain a finger!

There is good advice here. On the climbing side, simply stay off of steep crimpy routes. Work on technique on routes with larger holds, as you want to incorporate crimps look for routes that are just less than vertical.

You can spend a few months just practicing footwork, body positioning and different movements. The whole time your fingers will also be getting stronger.

A good progression for new climbers to follow, the slab w/o hands practice is very helpful:

ukclimbing.com/articles/page.p...
Nick Drake
From Newcastle, WA
Joined Jan 20, 2015
393 points
Jul 31, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
I personally think hangboards suck. I do like some training devices though, like the finger friendly 'G-Strings'. Practice, warm up, and DO tape up your fingers for more support across the tendons you feel are at risk the most. It sure helps me as I get older from blowing out another one and being laid off to heal for my typical 8 months from a bad one. Woodchuck ATC
Joined Nov 29, 2007
3,282 points
Aug 1, 2016
Woodchuck ATC wrote:
Practice, warm up, and DO tape up your fingers for more support across the tendons you feel are at risk the most. It sure helps me as I get older from blowing out another one and being laid off to heal for my typical 8 months from a bad one.


Woodchuck, do you happen to know how to properly tape up fingers to support the tendons? Lately whenever I make a crimp position the joints in my middle finger seems to pop. I'm sitting out of climbing for a month or so to let it heal. I'm a beginner and terribly fell into this injury without any knowledge of it. :(
stlee268
From Chicago, IL
Joined Jul 31, 2016
0 points
Aug 1, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: El Classico V0
stlee268 wrote:
Woodchuck, do you happen to know how to properly tape up fingers to support the tendons? :(



climbing.com/skills/avoid-fing...
Brandon.Phillips
From Alabama
Joined May 13, 2011
71 points
Aug 1, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
Thanks for the reference page link. I do recall seeing that printed in some version in the back 'yellow pages' of mags once, or long ago in the old 'Tech tips' pages that I saved and have in a thick 4 inch binder from back to at least the 90's. Divided up into sections of Sport, Alpine and Ice, Trad, Aid, Safety and medicine, and even some gym hints. Always go in a 'figure 8' around the knuckle with tape crossing underneath and a few wraps at each start-end. Holds me together just fine. I just cover with another full layer if it's for crack climbing protection too, or do the back of hand tape glove if needed. Woodchuck ATC
Joined Nov 29, 2007
3,282 points


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