by TH (TomHenry) David, PT, DPT
We see a lot of climbers here at Evolution for finger injuries. Fingers are obviously extremely important for climbing and, just like any other joint, need to be warmed up and like varied loads! There are many joints and muscles in the fingers and hands, and we often see that people tend to favor certain grip types over others. However, this can repetitively stress the joints, tissues, and muscles of the hand to a point of discomfort or lead to injury. Here are some simple exercises to warm up your wrist and fingers before (and while) you get on the climbing wall.
Reach + Finger Flicks
(10 per side)
This exercise is great for warming up your finger extensors while also going through range of motion.
First, curl your fingers up and press into your thumb.
Then flick your fingers outwards to activate your finger extensors. Simple and effective.
Bar or Free Weight Finger Curls
(30 per side)
This is a great way to activate your finger flexors through range of motion. We’ll talk about hangboarding in a bit, but hangboarding is inherently isometric (muscles activate, but joints don’t move). This exercise is great for waking those muscles up and moving the joints through motion. Include a wrist curl to warm up wrist flexors as well.
(6 reps x 10 sec holds per grip type)
You can use any kind of fingerboard for this – portable or stationary, or otherwise!
With this, I encourage my patients to perform using three grip types:
1. The 4 Finger Half Crimp
2. The 3 Finger Drag
3. The Back 3 Grip
These three are a good bang for your buck to hit the major finger flexors before you get on the wall. A key point here is to ensure you are pulling equally with each finger, and slowly build over the course of each 10-second hold. These should not be uncomfortable!
Mend it, and send it! See you out there.
And of course, if you want to improve your technique with a physical therapist who specializes in climbing, Evolution has locations on the West Coast, Mountain Region, and East Coast. Schedule an appointment today!