Combined with the shoulders the fingers are obviously incredibly important for our ability to climb effectively. If our fingers don’t want to take any weight it can be very difficult to even pull off the ground. Finger niggles and injuries are incredibly common in climbing. It is also very important that these injuries are managed correctly otherwise it’s very easy for small insignificant irritations to become long term chronic injuries. In other words, it’s not a very good idea to ignore a sore finger.
What is it that can go wrong?
There are 3 main finger complaints we see here at Climbit Physio:
- Pulley Injuries – Probably the most common and well known finger injury in climbing. The job of the pulleys is to keep the finger tendons flat against the bones in the fingers. Some finger positions, in particular crimping, place a lot of load on the pulleys and if these structures aren’t trained to deal with these loads it is easy to injure them.
- Joint Synovitis – Joint Synovitis is essentially just inflammation of one or more of the joints in the fingers. Again exacerbated by crimping when caught early can be simple to manage however can continue to grumble away if not dealt with early. Synovitis is again exacerbated by finger positions that put large loads on the finger joints (Crimping)
- Lumbrical Strain – The lumbricals are small muscles that live in between the fingers in the palm of your hand. Their job is to help stabilize the fingers. Because of the way they attach they tend to get more irritated from slopers, open hand holds or pockets.
What can you do for a sore finger?
With most finger injuries, it is important to decrease the load placed on them but not de load completely. In most cases the fingers need some load to help stimulate the healing process. Decreasing climbing load to a non painful level and then seeking the advice of a trained professional is the best course of action.
With all finger injuries it is also important to consider what is happening further up the arm and into the shoulder. IF the shoulder or arm muscles aren’t pulling their weight then they can put undue load through the forearm and fingers leading to injury.