Did you hurt your fingers rock or wall climbing and now they’re too painful to crimp or grip hand-holds or even do any kind of pulling?

Other symptoms of this common climbing injury are that of awakening with stiff, crampy fingers, and also you feel cramping or pain when trying to grip something, or holding something heavy that has a handle where you curl your fingers around.

The remedy I’m about to describe is based on my own climbing experience, after diagnosing myself with annular flexor pulley injury.

I did hand grips for three weeks and also avoided climbing altogether, and after three weeks, there was NO improvement whatsoever.

I then found a rehab website that said the solution is eccentric exercise (the site then charged a fee for more details). Fortunately, as a personal trainer, I knew what eccentric exercise meant.

Remember that I said hand grips were useless? That’s because I used them the standard way. Use them eccentrically.

To heal painful fingers from climbing

Assume that your symptoms are as described in this article, and especially if you believe that the injury is the result of hanging too much body weight while supporting yourself with a two- or three-finger hold, or pulling yourself up on such a hold:

  • Position your grip on a V-shaped hand gripper tool.
  • With free hand, close your gripping hand while it holds the gripping tool. Do not squeeze the gripping tool closed with your injured fingers! Let your other hand do this.
  • After closing your hand with your free hand, release your free hand, and keep the gripping tool closed.
  • Now, VERY SLOWLY release the grip. Do this VERY SLOWLY. The release should take at least 7 seconds, up to 10, depending on the tool’s tension.

IMPORTANT: There should not be any pain. If you feel scary pain, STOP and consult with a physician. My fingers were not swollen and I had no reason to believe anything was torn.

The exercise did not cause me pain, and unless you have a serious injury, it should not cause you pain.

  • Once it’s released, close your hand back up with your free hand, and repeat the SLOW release.
  • Do this eight times, then switch hands if the other is also injured. Do three sets per hand…three times a day.
  • After every session, soak your painful fingers in hot water for 15-20 minutes to increase blood circulation—something I decided to do at the onset of the eccentric program. 

Thus, I don’t know what percentage the exercise contributed to healing my climbing injury, versus the hot water—but do BOTH.

You’ll need to replenish the water if it’s in a bowl to keep it hot. Keep fingers completely submerged.

The starting point for the water should be hot enough that you can barely tolerate the submersion. Warm is not good enough. It must be HOT. If you can’t maintain submersion, wait a few minutes.

Within a few days of doing this, I finally began feeling an improvement in my hurting fingers—and the situation resolved.

As you feel definite improvement, go up to 10 reps, then 12. Give it time; the cure to this climbing injury won’t be overnight.

This plan is well-worth the try to heal painful or cramping fingers from the typical climbing injury.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.