Rock climbing injuries happen, but can we mitigate them? YES!
Climbing, in particular, poses a huge threat to the well being of our upper quarter, especially the hand. Chang et al. (2016) conducted a study that looked at acute and chronic repetitive trauma in rock climbing and the results were astonishing. Approximately 75% of all climbers (elite and recreational) have acute or chronic hand, wrist, shoulder, or elbow injuries. Imagine that, 3 out of the 4 people you see in the climbing gym or at the crag have an injury. The most common injury is the finger flexortendon, specifically related to the integrity of the A2 pulleyin the hand (check out my previous post on crimps!).
The taping method I prefer to use to protect my A2 pulley is called “H-tape”. It has been validated as an effective means to reduce the amount of force acting on the pulley (increased force = rupture), as well as decrease the amount of friction in the tendon sheath (greater friction = tendonitis) (Schofl et al., 2007). As you can see in the video, you will first cut a piece of athletic tape the length of your index finger. Then, cut the piece of tape in half from both ends, leaving a little bridge in the middle. Next, placethe bridge of the tape right below the first joint in theaffected finger, bend the finger and wrap the ends tightly around. If the tape still feels a loose, you may cut another piece of athletic tape length-wise and circumferentially wrap it around your finger (as shown in the video). Remember, this taping method is specifically for the A2 pulley in the finger. And with any injury, if it is preventing you from performing daily life activities, REST.
Chang et al. Rock climbing injuries: acute and chronic repetitive trauma.
Schofl et al. Impact of taping after finger flexor tendon pulley ruptures in rock climbers.