With Great Hands, Comes Great Responsibility

This week we interviewed a physiotherapist, Lauren Rex, from Active Recovery Physiotherapy to learn what it takes to develop and maintain hand strength.

Q: I have heard before that beginner climbers should not train/ use hang boards in their first year of climbing? Why is that?

A: For beginners, it is important to “just climb” instead of focusing on hanging as a method to get stronger. This is because as a beginner you are still stimulating the muscles you want to develop. It is suggested that only once you have hit a plateau you are ready to begin adding hanging into your climbing routine. That being said, all climbers should work on the smaller muscles in the hands. You can work these using simple exercises such as finger glides and other exercises (demonstrations are provided in the document below).

Q: What should intermediate climbers be mindful of when implementing a training regime?

A: For more intermediate climbers that have already incorporated hanging into a climbing session, Lauren suggests engaging in a proper crimp technique meaning you aren’t letting your first digit hyperextend on the small holds.

Q: What are some common injuries seen in climbing?

A: Common injuries that climbers experience are tendonitis, otherwise known as tennis elbow and golfer elbow. These are overuse injuries caused by the constant shortening of the muscles in the forearm while climbing. In order to heal the injuries, Lauren suggests eccentric exercises to lengthen the muscles. To do the exercises use a weight and do wrist curls focus on controlling the speed of the weight on the downward motion to allow the muscles to lengthen under the pressure.

If you are finding it difficult to fit training into your schedule, or you do not have enough money to purchase training equipment (such as rehab putty or a Digiflex tool) it is important to remember that there are lots of simple hand exercises that can be done without the use of any equipment at all! It is easy to strengthen your hands while watching your favorite tv show or while you are waiting for the bus ( which they never seem to show up on time).

We hope you find this information useful, and safe climbing out there!

-Matt & Carly

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