Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Skincare for climbers

My friend recently asked me a question:
"What is you suggestion for skin pain in climbing? Every time I climb, my finger skin get scaly and brittle so that it starts to become unbearable to keep a hold for longer than a couple of seconds. I always have to stop climbing because of this shit and not because I'm pumped or tired."

Here is what you can do...

Making your finger skin tough

You will have to gradually grow and toughen your finger skin by climbing regularly for 2 to 4 weeks. This requires 2-4 sessions per week. 
During this time you should spend most of the time on easy-ish problems. This is about getting some mileage under your belt. Therefore climbing routes would be the best but short and frequent boulder sessions will do too.
At the end of this period you will acquire essential calluses and your fingertips will desensitize and therefore will be more resistant to pain.

During the session

If you want your skin to last and become tougher then do plenty of easy (for you) problems with varied holds.
Certainly warm up, get your fingers warm before doing hard stuff. Warm fingers are essential for feeling the holds better and applying just the right amount of force.
If your fingertips are sore then try climbing problems with slopers or pinches, simply avoid fingery and sharp stuff. Choose different style problem that does not hurt and work on mileage, endurance or something else.
Try to take holds as static and accurate as you can, be smooth and fluid. Let your body and muscle do the work, not the fingers! Don't slap for holds and avoid sliding off. Try not to overgrip or overcrimp holds!

When pain has arrived and is almost unbearable

Instead of doing long problems you can move on to working one particular hard move that might not be hard on fingers but imposes different kind of challenge (splits, core strength, balance etc).

Take care and stay healthy

Always stop climbing before you damage your fingertips permanently. Watch out for those red spots on your fingertips, that's a bad sign! Stop right there.
Use "Climb On" and/or some nourishing hand cream after the climb.
Buy and drink fish oil capsules - those help your nails/hair and skin to grow.


Don't forget to climb at least 2 times a week to maintain thickness and in-sensitiveness of your finger skin!

Good luck my friend!

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