Fingers feeling stiff and sore, just in time for good send conditions to hit? Warm up right with these finger stretches and exercises to shake off the ache and climb your best!
After a long and grueling winter spent training hard and dialing in the details, it’s finally time to get outside. All those months of cranking and waiting for the sun to return are coming to fruition.
But even though you’re probably feeling stronger than ever, it may be that you’re feeling a bit tweaky at the same time. Hard work takes a toll. As we turn the corner into spring, many climbers might find themselves right on the cusp of overtrained. Even if you’ve done everything right—rest days, progressive loading, periodization—the effort adds up.
Large muscle groups like quads and glutes have an easier time withstanding the load. But fingers don’t have the same capacity for bouncing back. By the end of a tough training cycle or projecting endeavor, your fingers are likely holding onto a lot of accumulated fatigue.
Stiff joints, pressure points, and perceived weakness at the start of the session are all signs that your fingers could use a little extra TLC. The strength you’ve worked so hard to build is still there; it’s just burrowed under a few layers of stress. The right finger warmup can help coax it out.
Finger-specific stretching increases circulation so that they’re better prepared to work at a higher intensity. It also spreads synovial fluid through the joints for lubrication. After a few minutes of full-body exercise to send blood toward your extremities, wake up your fingers with this series of stretches.
1. Finger Curls and Massage
These curls activate blood flow in your fingers. Make your hands into fists with your arms at your sides. Squeeze tight, then quickly release the hold as if flicking water from your fingertips. Fan them out wide and feel the stretch between each finger. Return to a fist and repeat, increasing the speed to a rate of one or two flicks per second. Keep it up for about 30 seconds before finishing with a brief massage along the sides of each finger and following the tendons down into the hand.
2. Finger Isolation Stretch
This stretch makes sure no finger gets left behind. Start with your index and work down your hand one at a time. Hold your hand palm up by your chest, with your fingers curled up towards you in a loose fist. With the index finger of your other hand, push into the top of the upper segment of the finger being stretched. Take the thumb of your other hand and press it into the bottom segment of that finger near the base knuckle. Use the thumb as a brace while pushing in and down on the upper segment, pinching the bent finger together and pulling it back from the others. Hold for 10-20 seconds, release, and do another rep. Repeat with each finger.
3. Finger Flexor Stretch
Proper finger care extends into the forearms too, where the muscles that control movement and grip originate. Straighten one arm, point your fingers to the side and your thumb towards your stomach, and press the pads of your fingers into your other hand. Press in and pull back slightly on all your fingers together until you feel the stretch in your forearm. Release after 10-20 seconds, then twist your arm so that the fingers are pointing back at you and your thumb out to the side. Press and pull back again for ten seconds. Repeat with the other arm.
4. Finger Extensor Stretch
You might feel the pump most often in the inside of your forearms, but the muscles and tendons on the outside play a big role in crimping positions. Because they fly under the radar, though, the extensors tend to get even tighter than their counterparts. Tame them before they flare up and trigger a bad case of tennis elbow. Straighten your arms 90% of the way and cross them, interlacing your fingers with palms together. Use one hand to pull the other back towards your wrist. You’ll feel the stretch along the outside of your wrist and forearm. Hold for 10-20 seconds, then switch hands. Repeat again on both sides.
Now that blood is flowing strong and steady down your arms and through your fingers, they’re ready for a taste of what’s to come. Hangboards are useful for more than just intense, isolated strength training; they also give your fingers a chance to ease into a climbing session. If you’re not at the gym, a portable hangboard like the Tension Flash Board or Lattice Mega (or Mini) Bar hangs easily from a tree branch or a low draw.
Instead of hopping straight on the wall—even if it’s a warmup climb—begin with a series of hangs on progressively smaller edges. Work from jugs or deep-four pockets down to one- or two-pad crimps for 10 seconds each. Be sure to keep your shoulders and elbows engaged–no loose-shoulder dangling!
By the time you pull onto your first climb, your fingers should start to remember their true strength. Combine this finger warmup with upper and lower body activations for a routine that strips away built-up fatigue fast!
Pro Tip – Consume Pre-Workout or Pre-Climbing Vitamin-C-enrinched Collagen
- Healthy, Hard-TrainingClimber – Consume one heaping scoop of Supercharged Collagen 30 to 60 minutes before targeted finger training or climbing. Alternatively or additionally, consume one scoop upon waking each morning for joint and connective tissue support. and muscle matrix recovery. Read more >>
- Achy or Injured Climber – Consume 1.5 to 2 scoops of Supercharged Collagen (on an empty stomach) 30 to 60 minutes before rehab or protective training of the achy/injured tissues. For best results, perform this nutritional and training intervention twice daily with at least 6 hours of rest in between. Details here >>
- The Perfect Warm-up Protocol for Optimal Training and Sending
- Novel Warm-up Exercise for the Forearm Extensor Muscles
- At-Home Supplementary Exercises for Climbers
- Hangboard Training Guidelines, Tips, and Research
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