Friday, January 18, 2008

Strained Fingers

I learned something new recently that should take me to a new level in the coming months, if I prepare properly.

My fingers have been killing me. I mean, they've been so sore that they immediately hurt when grabbing a hold on any climb, regardless of grade. I've felt soreness in my fingers before, but this has gone away over time in the past. Unfortunately, this has not been the case recently. This soreness has persisted and has even gotten worse lately. Considering how much I've been climbing lately, a lack of rest certainly hasn't helped. But I'm not stopping any time soon because I want to keep climbing at a three-days-per-week rate until spring when, if "Jello" is still around, I know I can get out just about every weekend. In short, I want to get stronger, but this finger pain persists.

I was telling "Geneva" of my problem and he recognized it immediately. Both he and I love crimpy climbs and, if one does enough of them (or too many of them), one tends to grab holds as if they are crimps, regardless of the hold type. I know that one's fingers can hurt if one continuously climbs crimpy routes, but that isn't the problem. The problem is applying crimp techniques to climbs that don't require the technique. "Geneva" was told that he could combat this finger fatigue by grabbing holds with an open grasp more often and only crimping when absolutely necessary. This does three things: 1) it rests the fingers from having to crimp all the time; 2) it gives the fingers an opposing exercise that strengthen both types of grasps (i.e. - it keeps my fingers from developing crimp muscles only and, thus, keeps my fingers from overcompensating on those crimp muscles because they are stronger even if they are tired) and; 3) it teaches better core technique.

Of course, the first two will correct my finger-fatigue, but it is the last one that may help to propel me to another level. By being able to rest my strongest muscles by not using them I will be able to: a) learn how to get through tough sections without relying on my strength all the time; b) conserve energy by relying on my legs to do most of the work (I'm assuming that legs are more likely to be used with an open grip than with a closed grip) and; c) allow me to be even stronger when I need the strength the most.

If I ever get through this period of weakness then I'll be stronger than I have ever been by this spring. I really hope this is true, because I want to get on harder climbs this summer.

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