Climbing Finger Injuries: What Now?
Updated: Jan 19
So you injured your finger climbing? Let me guess…
There was a fresh set on the 45. You rushed your warm up and only climbed a couple V1s. You didn’t stretch. You hopped on the brand new climbs, anxious to see how strong you’ve gotten since the last set. You got two tries in on the new V6. You were pulling hard on the left hand. And before you realized what happened: “Pop!”
It was your third and final day of the trip. Your skin, hands, feet, hell, everything was tired but you’re determined to make the most of the last day. You had been projecting this one problem all trip. You were getting close. You decided to hop on for one last burn at the end of the day. You pulled through the crux. You knew there were only a couple of moves left. You were tired. And before you realized what happened: “Pop!”
Pulley Injuries – The Most Common Climbing Injury
Finger injuries, specifically pulley injuries, are the most common injuries we see in climbing. In fact, upwards of all 80% of all pulley injuries are from rock climbing. You can walk up to pretty much any veteran climber in the gym or at the crag and ask them, “Have you ever had a finger injury?” Almost all of them will sigh, hold up a hand, and point to a finger.
So are you one of the people I described above? Take a deep breath and try not to catastrophize (envision the end of your climbing career) because I’m right there with you.
Three weeks ago I injured my left ring finger while climbing. It’s likely a Grade III tear (bad partial or full rupture of the A2 pulley). I had gone hiking that morning then went into the gym for some training in the evening. I warmed up, but not enough. I was tired.
After a couple of goes on a hard boulder, I hopped on for one last pull. I was cranking down hard on a sharp, left-hand, side-pull crimper when, before I knew what happened… “Pop!” The loudest pop I had ever heard exploded from my hand. There was no burst of pain, no bright light. Just a, “Pop!” I knew what had happened. I went into shock. It felt like my life was over.
Six months. I know the drill. Six months of no climbing while I recover. Right? Not exactly.
So although I trained for months and was feeling my strongest and although pristine temps were rolling in, I stopped climbing and began waiting for this thing to heal. So what is a climber to do?
Hit the books. You can find articles all over the internet containing info about pulley injuries but no one tells you what you’re about to go through. That’s why I’m here. I wanted to learn as much about my injury as possible and I’m here to share what I’ve learned with you.