Climbing finger injuries, physio and things I’ve learnt

So after two finger injuries,  two different approaches and having read what feels like a lifetime of articles in finger injuries I thought I’d add my two penneth with the addition of advice from my physiotherapist.

The Beginning

The serious finger injuries to pulleys start with a pop, or a small series of them. This is an understatement,  it goes with a right crack, my last knew stopped half a climbing wall. It will be followed by intense pain which will quickly lessen. You will lose at least some movement in your finger (and gain bowel movement). The lessening of pain does not mean you are OK,  it’s the adrenaline.  You need to get to a&e for tests Inc an xray to confirm the injury. DO NOT CONTINUE CLIMBING!!!!

Where it all goes wrong

The first time I did this I trooped off to a&e, was quickly seen, diagnosed, had my finger strapped up and told not to use it for 6months. THIS IS NOT GOOD ADVICE. If you have a total loss of movement and your finger is stuck curled to your palm or straight out you have a total rupture and need an operation. If a&e don’t refer you to the GP go….immediately. If you have some movement it’s a partial tear,  although strapping it up works it will a. take longer to heal than other methods and b. allow scar tissue to build up permanently restricting movement and strength in that finger.

As my physio pointed out a&e nurses do not understand the complexity of a hand, they see a tear, they strap it up, you’re not in pain,  job done for them


State clearly you want further tests and or physio. You need to get this finger strong and healing. It’s going to take 3 to 9 months but you can help this. Mike has talked me through exercises specific to my finger and injury, do not just use what is on the Internet,  every injury and physique is different, you could do more damage. This is why I haven’t linked exercises I have done.

How to help

Don’t climb until your physio says so but get into doing the exercises, yes boring, yes repetitive,  in my case bloody painful but they work. I’ve loved power putty, doing the basic clench and the opposite stretch.  It’s far more highly recommended than the powerballs. Don’t let pride get in the way, buy the easiest putty, if you go for the hard you will only hurt yourself

Suck it up

You’re going to be out of climbing for months but you can still improve your climbing. Stretching, yoga, pilates will all help. In my case losing weight is a huge thing I’ve done with a stone dropped in 4 months. Go see your climbing buddies, don’t be tempted but do encourage others. Walk, hike build your leg strength and balance. 

Hope this helps


2 thoughts on “Climbing finger injuries, physio and things I’ve learnt”

  1. Always good to see advice from someone who’s been there 🙂 Hope you get back as strong as you were before the injury. That pop which stopped the whole climbing wall sounds nasty!


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