the whole point of this blog is to help others with all the questions they have about setting up a similar home climbing gym, and ramble about a variety of climbing related subjects.
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Monday, January 31, 2011

tendons... you break it you bought it!

I’ve considered doing this topic before… but didn’t because everyone has a difference of opinion in regard to the best method of taping. Even the doctors many people go to will argue about whether or not one method is valid over another. So here’s how I’m gonna play this one. This post will have absolutely no medical research to back it up. The only thing you get is my opinion… and that isn’t worth much kids. Plus to be honest some folks have got me a little worried that about the world we live in. So if you want entertainment, come to me. You need a bone marrow transplant…. STOP LOOKING AT BLOGS!

Sooo taping…. I have seen a lot of terrible tape jobs lately, actually, since day one of starting climbing. In general it’s the new kids that screw it up, but not always. Examples? Sure…

In picture number one the tape covers the proximal phalanges (closest bone). This is a very common and simple taping method. This is meant to provide support to the annular A2 pulley tendon. From what I “hear” a very common site for partial and complete tendon tears caused by use and abuse associated with rock climbing.

Now the bitchy criticism… the tape is incredibly loose. The annular tendons run perpendicular to the bone, tightly wrapping another tendon close to the bone. This second tendon runs the length of the finger through the wrist and attaches to the forearm muscles. This is the mechanism by which we bend the finger closed. If the tape isn’t tight you’re not supporting the tendon you just have a stylish disposable ring on.

Moving on to picture number two, this shows the tape running “roughly” across the C1 and C2 cruciform tendons and the A3 annular tendon at the PIP joint. Cruciform means “crossing”, think of two lines crossing in an “X” shape.

This one’s easy for me to complain about… you can’t grab anything if you can’t bend the finger. FAIL… try again.

Tape job number three …is comprehensive. The tape tightly wraps every tendon including C1, C2, C3, A2, A3, & A4. There is also another kudos, the finger choice is correct. The most common fingers (in my experience) to get injured are the middle and ring finger. I believe this to be associated with the way the forearm muscles align to add strength. What does that mean? Hold your hand open. Curl just your pinky into your palm… what did the ring finger do? Weird it curled a little also. That is because the fingers aren’t fully independent. The median fingers tend to get the most strength. They are also longer and therefore get the most purchase on the hold. All that means they take more wear and tear…like the pun? So, if you want to tape the fingers preventatively which should you pick?

On the other hand… this guy effectively splinted the entire finger and won’t be able to grab anything, just like the last guy.

Tape job number four. This is the super common “I want to climb in the roof at the bouldering gym but I’ve torn open flappers on my entire palm” tape job. Unfortunately once you rip the skin the only thing to do is go home and wait for it to heal. Do push-ups and sit-ups it will help you climbing as much as continuing to ruin your hands will. If you don’t listen to me, all you will find is bad technique for trying to compensate for the pain and a horror show when you take the tape off. The tape will not stay secure. Your palms will sweat and leak plasma which will cause the tape not stick... then the tape slips around more and you make the flappers worse.

for some reason guys never hear this part so ill say it again. THER IS NO WAY THE TAPE WILL STAY. THE TAPE WILL NOT WORK... EVER!

Trust me… go home, read a book about climbing techniques, nutrition, or jog on the treadmill like I should be doing right now.

So, there are the don’ts… what are the dos? Well I can only show you what works for me. First tear the roll of 1 inch tape down the middle to get approximately a ten inch long strip. Make the strips thinner if you have really tiny fingies. You can use any cloth medical tape. In time you will learn that they all suck for different reasons. Some don’t stick well, other stick too well and leave crappy residue on your hands. Some tear too easy and others are so hard to tear your belayer gets sick of waiting. Find the brand that works for you.

Start by wrapping the proximal phalange, begin on the back of the finger and make one full wrap. Then, with the finger at an approximate 120 degree angle, cross under the pip joint to the medial phalange. Make two full revolutions around the medial phalange before crossing back down to the proximal phalange. Make one last full wrap around the finger. Hopefully the tape ends on the back of the finger so it won’t peal or roll back. Check out the pictures.

So if you did it correctly, the fingers when relaxed are slightly bent. If you try hard you can get them almost totally straight. You should have no issue making a fist. On the inside of the hand you will see this pattern { llXll }. When you put the tape on it should be tight. The fingers will be instantly redder than the untapped finger. Make it tight so you actually support the tendons. Don’t worry about cutting off circulation. Think about it like the kids with their “skinny” jeans sure they have on pants for a nine year old, but because its cloth it will stretch. If after you’ve been climbing for a bit and the finger is cold and tingly then use your best judgment… id loosen the tape.

So there is my bit on taping for injury prevention. It’s quite possible that everything you read is just crazy talk (see i was recently at a bachelors party and am still possibly hung over). Like I have said… NOT A DOCTOR. Everything I have told you is basic and can be pieced together on the internet, with minimal research… or none? Maybe I made it all up… tee hee!

1 comment:

  1. I tried this method on Friday. It worked great and my fingers still felt good after an hour of bouldering. Thanks!
    ~Little reader compliment giver ;)