You know that great feeling when you climb to a certain level that you haven’t achieved yet? That’s what’s so amazing about climbing activity, it pushes us to the limits, and really teaches us there are no boundaries other than we set ourselves. Sounds a bit cliche, but it is true.
So, logically, people who practice this extreme sport often want to climb as much as they can, have strong arms, hands, and fingers. Many people wonder how to toughen their fingers in order to excel in climbing.
Toughening fingers for climbing is a process that takes time, effort, and some calluses. The most important thing is to train regularly, and over time, your fingers and hands will become stronger. But, you will also need to learn how to properly take care of your hands.
So, today’s topic is going to cover some easy tips you should include in your daily pre and post-climbing hand care routines. These routines are so important, as they can help you to have ready hands for some climbing.
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How to Toughen Fingers and Hands For Climbing?
As you might expect, the truth is there is not much to do to toughen fingers and hands other than to constantly challenge your skin cells to produce and train regularly. Of course, hand muscles will toughen too, but building calluses are also important, as crazy as it sounds.
You can boulder or climb, both will be challenging for your hands.
Try climbing on a highly textured rock, or plastic. But, the most important thing is to take care of your hands and calluses. They need to be smooth between training, or you may end up with some ripped-off skin on your hands.
Bare skin is extremely painful and it would take weeks to heal before you can continue to climb again. So, in the following text take a look at some important things to have in mind, so you can have healthy and strong fingers and hands for the next climbing adventure.
Climbing Hand Skin Maintenance
Practicing good hand hygiene is extremely important to maintain functioning skin. You should always wash your hand before climbing activity, and keep your gloves grease-free. Dirty, or oily hands are a dread for climbing holds.
Besides cleaning, you should be aware not every skin type is the same. Some people have naturally drier, and other sweaty hands. So, a different cleaning approach is needed.
- Dry hands. Focus on moisture during cleaning (try some moisturizing soaps)
- Oily hands. Focus on removing oil with some standard bar soaps.
Note: Wash your hands with hot water, it removes grease nicely and cleans the hands better, but rinse them with cold water after.
Different Skin and Different Climbing Rocks
Every skin responds differently to rock types. Some factors like humidity and temperature, and the texture of the stone have a great impact. The specific area you climb on may style your skin in the desired way. So, after a week of climbing in a specific area, you might be in great shape for that spot.
Rocks that are made from quartz, sandstone, and limestone may have a softer impact on skin and hands. On the other side, volcanic tuff, granite, monazite, and syenite porphyry can make your skin harder.
Whichever rock you plan to climb, be sure to sand down your calluses between climbs, so your skin can stay smooth and flexible.
How to Treat Skin Injuries From Climbing
Treating hand injuries is mandatory. That way you avoid infections and help your skin recover faster and easier. Hand skin injuries are very common in rock climbing, actually, there may be no training that can go without a tiny scratch. So, naturally, having some tips and tricks for treating skin/hand injuries can come in handy.
It’s important to stop the bleeding. If the split is small you can dab some liquid bandage on it, place a tape, and move on. Bear in mind, you’ll need to have patience, a split can take up to a week to heal properly. Also, the injured part of the skin may be more prone to re-injury, so be careful.
When you climb for days, you might notice that your fingertips becoming a bit pink and shiny. They might have some clear fluid coming out of them. The only way to solve this issue is to let your skin re-new.
The good thing is, the skin grows fast, so even one day of rest and skincare may be enough. If you need to carry on with climbing, consider taping your tips with friction tape, and also pay attention to your finger joints. People tend to over-grip during climbing when they have their fingertips taped.
Flappers are very nasty. They need to be treated right away. You can try trimming the flap and clean it. Cleaning will hurt, just so you know.
Opt for antibiotic cream and band-aid. It’s best to rest and don’t climb until your skin is healed, but if the flap is not that bad and you decide to climb eighter way, consider putting some climbing tape over the band-aid.
Easy Skin Care Tips For Climbing
There are some skincare things to consider when you’re planning to try climbing. So, here is a short list of some essentials to bear in mind during this extreme sports activity.
This is a very popular, yet extreme type of drying agent. You can apply it at night, and that way have dry hands throughout the next day. It’s worth mentioning that it affects people differently, but can be a nice solution for climbers who have sweaty hands.
You need to start slowly with it. Try placing a light coating on your tips for a few hours. After a couple of days, you would probably see some results.
One useful option is liquid chalk. You can opt to apply it before using the loose chalk. It serves as a nice foundation and can keep your hands drier for a longer time. Basically, it’s made from alcohol and chalk.
It doesn’t matter which skin type you have, always make sure to moisturize your hands’ skin after a long day of climbing. Try using some cream with herbs and soothing oils, and place some extra layers on damaged skin spots.
For best results, put it on right before sleep time, so your skin can regenerate overnight. But, it’s very important, never apply this kind of creams right before climbing, that way you can easily lose a good grip.
Have a Healthy Diet
In order to have healthy skin, you should eat healthy food. That means avoiding greasy food, such as bacon and donuts. Instead, opt for some omega-3 fatty acids. You can find it in fish oil, or different types of fish generally.
The next time, instead of a deep-fried meal, choose a nice tuna salad and give your skin an antioxidant treat, so it can be stronger and tougher.
It’s so important to stay hydrated. There is a way to check your hydration level. If you pinch the back of your middle knuckle and the ridge of the skin stands up, you may become dehydrated.
Hydrated skin is stronger and more resilient to tears, notably in dry climates. So, your entire body needs water in order to function properly.
Climbing Skin Care Kit
Climbing is an extreme sport, so it often requires some skin and medical care. So, whenever you are starting your climbing adventure, make sure to have some skincare essentials by your side. That way, you won’t be unprepared for possible skin issues.
Sandpaper is essential in callus maintenance. You can trim down some rough spots or snags, and avoid skin flappers. With sanding, you keep the skin even. You should sand off any rough edges, loose skin, overdeveloped calluses, and hardened skin.
But, always watch out not to over-sand your skin, that way you can get more splits. Removing the skin is always easier than growing a new one, so have that one in mind.
A liquid bandage is nice because is flexible, waterproof, and commonly has antiseptic compounds. And we all know antiseptics are crucial for open wounds. It can be a great light coat to put on your hand before applying a tape.
Also, you can try using a compound tincture of benzoin. It can help bandages stick better, and toughen the skin. But, make sure it’s the right type of benzoin, regular tincture won’t have mentioned benefits.
Nail Clippers and Razor Blades
Long nails and climbing don’t go well together. So, you need to have trimmed, short nails. Clippers can also be useful for emergency loose skin trimming (flapper). Of, course, keep your clippers clean and disinfect them with at least 70% alcohol before and after every use. Keep them in a dry and closed kit. If you see rust on clippers, throw them away!
Alcohol, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Tape
Both medical alcohol and hydrogen peroxide can remove grease and dirt from your hands. You can use them as a spray on your hands and apply chalk afterward. They both stimulate circulation, so you may feel a burning-like sensation on your skin shortly after application, especially during warm weather.
Some standard white athletic tape can be handy to use before, during, or after climbing. It’s also great for injuries. If your skin is prone to split tips, try taping them with the climber’s tape. You can find various brands that provide nice tape options, some of them are Mueller and Elastoplast.
So, consider buying tape rolls, they are very useful. You should also invest in some friction tapes, they have rubber in tape and are great for covering up worn-out tips and increasing friction.
Note: Always try out a few taping methods against splits and tears.
To Sum It Up
Toughening your body, hands, and fingers for climbing is a long process. But, eventually, it really pays off. So, be sure to train regularly, but in moderation, because if you climb excessively, you can have some issues. In the end, extreme sports should give you pleasure, not torture. Therefore, practice, enjoy and stay healthy.