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Fingers Cramping
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dj_325


Oct 17, 2013, 10:49 AM
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Fingers Cramping
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So I recently started trying to get into rock climbing but I've been having a lot of difficulty with my fingers cramping up after I get off a wall. It happens almost immediately (pretty much right after I start climbing) and is fairly painful. For a good minute after I get off a wall I can't extend my fingers at all unless I force them to, which again is fairly painful. I've also noticed that after this happens a few times my grip strength is greatly reduced.

Does anyone know what exactly is going on with my hands and how I can take steps to fix it? Thanks.


marc801


Oct 18, 2013, 2:15 PM
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Re: [dj_325] Fingers Cramping [In reply to]
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dj_325 wrote:
So I recently started trying to get into rock climbing but I've been having a lot of difficulty with my fingers cramping up after I get off a wall. It happens almost immediately (pretty much right after I start climbing) and is fairly painful. For a good minute after I get off a wall I can't extend my fingers at all unless I force them to, which again is fairly painful. I've also noticed that after this happens a few times my grip strength is greatly reduced.

Does anyone know what exactly is going on with my hands and how I can take steps to fix it? Thanks.
You may well be attempting problems that are too difficult and/or holds too small for your current level of fitness and hand strength. In particular the tendons and not the muscles.

Without describing how frequently you climb, on what kind of climbs, and how long you've been climbing, it's nearly impossible to offer further analysis or explanation. It may be a simple matter of poor technique and not using your feet often enough or properly for a given climb.


kenr


Oct 18, 2013, 2:46 PM
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Re: [dj_325] Fingers Cramping [In reply to]
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Here's my non-expert try ...
. . . (hopefully it will goad the experts into posting some corrections) , , ,
The commands from your brain don't get sent to your finger muscles over metal wires or WiFi messages. There's complicated organic chemicals which play critical roles. There's a chemical (or chemicals) that convey the "Contract this Muscle" command out there at the correct muscle.

But just because your brain decides that it's time to stop contracting, the "Contract this Muscle" chemical doesn't just dieappear by magic. If your body waited for it to go away by diffusion, it would take a long time. So instead there's another special organic chemical which destroys the "Contract this Muscle" chemical.

Sounds like your body never sent that large a concentration of "Contract this Muscle" chemical to before to your fingers, so your body, so there wasn't enough of the Destroyer chemical nearby in your fingers -- so the muscles just kept on contracting.

? Or maybe there was too much "Contract this Muscle" chemical and a bunch of it got "stuck" somewhere in transit nearby ... but then when your arm started to relax it got "unstuck" and suddenly flooded your finger muscles again. (Hope the real experts will have fun with that idea).

Anyway, if your body has something vaguely like typical human biochemistry, then there are other special chemicals which detect this problem, and trigger structural changes in your fingers to help prevent it in the future - (not sure how fast those corrections get made).

In that case, after a few more climbing sessions, the cramping won't happen very often (or not as severely).

Of course there might be some small percentage of the human population with a different biochemistry that's just more prone to cramping in situations like climbing -- hopefully you don't have the bad luck to fall into that group.

Be nice to your body for the first month or two of climbing. Give it some time to adjust.


dj_325


Oct 21, 2013, 2:04 PM
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Re: [marc801] Fingers Cramping [In reply to]
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marc801 wrote:
dj_325 wrote:
So I recently started trying to get into rock climbing but I've been having a lot of difficulty with my fingers cramping up after I get off a wall. It happens almost immediately (pretty much right after I start climbing) and is fairly painful. For a good minute after I get off a wall I can't extend my fingers at all unless I force them to, which again is fairly painful. I've also noticed that after this happens a few times my grip strength is greatly reduced.

Does anyone know what exactly is going on with my hands and how I can take steps to fix it? Thanks.
You may well be attempting problems that are too difficult and/or holds too small for your current level of fitness and hand strength. In particular the tendons and not the muscles.

Without describing how frequently you climb, on what kind of climbs, and how long you've been climbing, it's nearly impossible to offer further analysis or explanation. It may be a simple matter of poor technique and not using your feet often enough or properly for a given climb.

I have not attempted anything beyond a V1 and climb fairly infrequently, partially because of the difficulty I am having. I don't have trouble with the climbs themselves, just afterwards when I can't get my hands to unclench. I'll admit my techinque isn't great and neither is my current level of fitness, but I've always been fairly active and have never experienced anything like this before. It may be simply that my hand muscle aren't use to the stress, but I am slightly concerned it may be something more serious.

Do you have any advice on how to improve hand strength without actually climbing so maybe I could get a better idea of what the issue might be?


amarius


Oct 22, 2013, 10:28 AM
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Re: [dj_325] Fingers Cramping [In reply to]
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Perhaps you could pick up a few squeeze balls in the local drug store and start milking them? - Not guaranteed to help, but can't really hurt and they are not expensive.
Other options - TheraPutty, Grip Pro Trainer, heavy finger rolls just to name a few.
Of course, one could also run a google query on "hand strengthening exercises" to look for more options


dj_325


Oct 22, 2013, 10:34 AM
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Re: [amarius] Fingers Cramping [In reply to]
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That would be the smart thing to do. Thanks for the help though


marc801


Oct 22, 2013, 2:12 PM
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Re: [dj_325] Fingers Cramping [In reply to]
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dj_325 wrote:
I have not attempted anything beyond a V1 and climb fairly infrequently...
Although at the lower end of the bouldering scale, V1 is about mid-5.10 if encountered on a roped climb - which is basically not all that easy for someone who climbs "fairly infrequently."

+1 to the responses regarding hand exercises. Remember to exercise in the "negative" direction as well, which a lot of people forget about to their detriment.


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