View Full Version : Question? Climbing problem - hypermobile finger joints?

Jun 19, 2011, 07:12 AM
Good day all,

I have always wanted to get into climbing as a sport, but have hypermobile fingers (basically the joints in my fingers extend further back than they should) and have always had worries about damaging them.

I can't even do 5 fingertip push ups without my joints getting a dull ache for about 30min after, not in the bottom knuckles but in the first and second joints.

The handholds on climbing walls give me sore joints for a day or two, and are still tender for a few days after that as to hold on to the small ones my fingers have to squeeze tight, and that hyperextends my joints.

Any advice on how to deal with this?



Jul 04, 2011, 01:38 PM
82 views.0 replies.If no one knows can someone point me to a website that does?

Jul 04, 2011, 02:45 PM
Only thing I can think of is starting some really light finger training (ft wall pu?) along with extensor work (finger band extensions: opening closed hands submerged in a bucket of sand). I figure if you gradually build up strength, it might ... help somehow?

Jul 04, 2011, 03:02 PM
The problem is because they are more mobile than they should be,the extended range of motion is very weak.I'm going to give the bucket of sand a try,hadn't thought of that.Thanks for the idea,it's not an easy question.Far too many variables.

Jul 11, 2011, 12:04 PM
If you have never climbed you need to learn grips that put less stress on your fingers (ie - open hand vs. crimp). If you climb outside on natural rock you tend to not have as much finger stress as indoors on plastic at a rock gym. Even with very strong fingers/hands, you will pop tendons from time to time if you become a serious climber. Virtually all climbers have had some kind of finger injury at some point. I can say for myself and most of the other guys I've climbed with over the years, the finger injuries are an annoyance but generally heal and make you smarter about your training - what not to do and warm appropriately.

Finger tendon strenght takes a long time to develop and when training your fingers; like on a finger board, you have to give the appropriate rest so as not to risk over use injuries. and you need to be consistent in your training and rest. Also, proper hydration plays a huge roll in healthy finger tendons and avoiding injury.

Just climbing in general will strengthen you fingers. surprisingly other than finger board training, which you should only do as a supplement to climbing and after you have a good base of finger strength, there is no exercise that directly translates to climbing strenght. Climbing is very specific sport training wise. You can be generally fit and strong, which will help, but to climb hard you need to climb. You can use all the hand strengthers you want - squeeze balls, grippers, sand in buckets, but it will not translate to the kind of finger strength you need/get by climbing. Just get out and start climbing. As a beginner you wont be on hard enough routes with small technical holds that will hurt you fingers, as you progress and you're hanging by 1 or two fingers on some desparate 12c, you will have plenty of finger strenght from getting to that level.

Climbing is an amazing lifestyle. Over the years I have seen some beautiful places in the world from an angle few get to see. Enjoy it.

Jul 11, 2011, 03:08 PM
So if I was doing fingertip push ups against a wall (CC progressions seem like a decent way to go,correct me if I'm wrong) how many times a week should I do it?I have a catch 22 of pushing myself a little harder than is sustainable (with occasional days of rest, like I am at the moment) but that I worry too much about my fingers - paralysis by analysis. I'm going to do them once per week, on the Monday so I can start tomorrow,but would very high reps (up to 50 as I near progression standard) damage them?

My greatest worry is hurting my right hand, as I have exams in about a month and a half,and a finger injury would be world class bad news.Right now I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Jul 11, 2011, 03:28 PM
Finger tip push ups are not going to give you the kind of finger/hand strength that translates to climbing. In fact, they probably exacerbate your already hyperextended condition. Climbing grip strenght is an isometric function. There was a study done on hand strenght of elite athletes (I can't remember where I read it), but surprisingly climbers were average on contraction or grip (the usual measure of grip strength-closing your hand on a gripper for example) but very strong on resisting the opening of the hand (like if you were trying to take something away from someone's grip).

in your OP you said you have been to climbing walls and the grips hurt (sorry I missed this when I skimmed the post). This is pretty common at first. You want to stay away from small grips (aka "crimps"). Keep at it and see if the pain lessens as your strength develops. If it does, work toward smaller grips. Also, if you have access to outside areas - bouldering, sport routes, trad routes - the natural rock is way easier on your tendons.

The best advice on strength and improvement is from every single climbing performance book or website- you need to climb. No other activity trains you to climb like climbing - it is a very specific sport. Even pull ups do not translate to climbing b/c climbing takes technique, whole body balance and control. You will see 13 year old girls who climb better than the most strapped guy who racks off pullups like nothing and she can't do one. The simple fact is that to climb efficiently, you can't muscle your way up a route with fingers of steel and pull up strength, you just burn out and fall. Being strong in those areas obviously helps on very hard vertical to overhung routes that require brute strength as well as technique.

My advice, join a rock gym or go out and mess around on some boulders, you will get plenty of finger strength from that. Like I said, you don't need to specifically build finger strength by doing some non-climbing related training. Once you reach a level where you are climbing hard grades - 5.11 and up, you would start to focus on finger board training and specific grip training for a particular route or boulder problem you want to send.

Because its isometric, your finger condition may not even be bothered by climbing. go out and start climbing, see what happens. Since you are a beginer, you will not be on holds that are thin enough to really tweak your fingers.

Jul 29, 2011, 03:21 PM
I agree with jsweet.
I am climbing as well, especially bouldering a lot, and as like with every other sport, you progress and build the special muscle groups by practicing.
That said i would recommend you to buy a grip master. Take the heavy tension one.
I dont know how bad your finger hurt but with this device, you can train each single finger and it really helps building strenght. If even training with
the grip master hurts too much, then you should maybe try another sport...