Hand Injuries in Rock Climbing

by Tom Markiewicz on January 23, 2005

As a climber who has repeatedly suffered from finger and shoulder injuries, I’m always on the lookout for informative articles that allow me to understand the physiology of the body systems climbers are always pushing to the limits. It’s rare to find sport-specific information on hand and finger injuries. So, I was especially pleased when I stumbled across an article on Hand Injuries in Rock Climbing: Reaching the Right Treatment.

Published in The Physician and Sportsmedicine in May of 1997, doctors Jebson and Steyers take a detailed yet very understandable approach to hand injuries in climbing. Beginning with hand anatomy and the types of grip techniques climbers employ, the authors proceed to cover the full range of hand injuries. Of particular interest are the details on flexor tendon injuries and rupture of the A2 pulley. Judging from my experiences, these tend to be some of the more common climber injuries.

While this is a comprehensive article on the types and causes of hand and finger injuries, it’s disappointing to read only a single paragraph on prevention. Understandably, this was a paper on injuries; but with such a lack of medical information out there for climbing specific injuries, additional details on prevention would be greatly appreciated by the climbing community.

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