Rock climbing is a challenging sport that is exciting but can wreak havoc on your hands. You might think calluses will keep you safe, but prolonged pressure and abrasion on the fingers and palms can cause any number of ailments. Pressure on your hands during rock climbing is repetitive in nature and can be partially counteracted with exercises that reverse the hand position and relieve the tension. Reverse hand exercises help you enjoy the great outdoors with less pain.
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Everybody knows rock climbing is risky, but that's half the fun. Although rock climbing has life-threatening dangers beyond hand abuse, even careful climbers can encounter problems. In an overview concerning hand injuries that result from rock climbing in "The Physician and Sports Medicine" journal," doctors Peter J.L. Jebson and Curtis M. Steyers lay out the dangers of frequent climbing. Scarring can occur on the epidermis, tendons can be torn and even joint damage is a possibility. Like with any physical activity, much can be prevented by stretching exercises before exertion. The goal is to stretch the fingers, forearm and palm of the hands and arm before getting on the mountain.
Why In Reverse?
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Exercises that include your hand curling forward are great for improving strength and dexterity, but beyond beefing up your muscles these exercises will not protect you from the damage of frequent, extreme pressure. Extend one arm and use the hand of your other arm to pull your fingers backward. This exercise not only stretches the forearm muscles, but also the smaller muscles within your fingers and palm. Separate your fingers and pull them back one by one to maximize the stretch. This reversal of your hand's natural movement will help get blood to weary muscles. Not only will this stave off pain, but also it will improve tactile feedback from your fingertip nerve endings.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
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A sore muscle is easy to fix. But there are bigger issues to face if hand pain is left untreated. Rock climbers are susceptible to developing carpal tunnel syndrome. According to Jebsen and Steyers, pain in the wrist and temporary numbness can occur long after the climb is over. Longstanding problems lead to atrophy in the muscles and impaired motor skills. Reverse hand exercises help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Make a weak fist with one hand and use your other hand to bend your wrist backward. Hold this for five seconds and then repeat the exercise with your other hand. Simple daily exercises like these can undo the damage of rock climbing.
All About the Blood
Do your fingertips go white when you pinch grip the side of a cliff? The big concern about pressure is that it cuts off the blood supply. If you feel pain or numbness and can take only a quick break to resolve it, simply wiggle your hand, letting your fingers flop from side to side. Reverse hand exercises are important to perform before and after climbing, but can also come in handy while you are still in the air.
Meredith Berg received her B.F.A. in directing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Now living in Los Angeles, she works as a film and television writer, comic-book editor and director of plays and films. In addition, she loves tackling paleo recipes, workout routines and DIY projects.