Reducing Injury Risk in Training
A guide to minimizing risk of finger pulley injury while using a climbing training board.
Examples of standardized interactive climbing training boards include: MoonBoards, Tension Boards, Kilter Boards, Lattice Boards, System Boards & Grasshopper Climbing Walls.
Training Guidelines to Minimize Injury Risk
“Standardized Interactive Climbing Training Boards” (SICTBs) have become increasingly popular over the past several years, fueled by the pandemic, the popularity of indoor climbing and the desire of boulderers and climbers alike to climb harder. SICTBs help to develop strength and power in our climbing, however, the finger intensive training can lead to finger injuries and pulley tears.
Follow these guidelines to minimize your chance of injury as you boost your climbing strength:
Warm up - always!
Increase your body temperature to a light sweat. E.g.: jog, jump rope or use a Versaclimber, erg, elliptical or stationary bike.
Do some light dynamic stretching.
Climb 100 moves at a gradually increasing difficulty, (1).
For example, a V8 boulderer could do:
4 x V1 + 2 x V2 = V8, then a rest interval (~3min);
next: 1 x V2 + 2 x V3 = V8, rest;
then: 2 x V4 = V8, rest;
then: a sampling of moves (in the V5-V7 range), rest.
1. Andreas Schweizer, Biomechanical properties of the crimp grip position in rock climbers. Journal of Biomechanics 34 (2001) 217-223.
Properly warmed up, your body is ready for max effort. Take adequate rest between attempts (around 3 minutes between max or near-max efforts). Body awareness and experience are invaluable here. When you or your friends notice your technique is breaking down, end your session on the board. Transition to less finger intensive training: mellow climbing, TRX, weightlifting, peg boards, pull ups, etc.
Most climbers will need 24-48 hours before another finger intensive training day. Consider low intensity climbing (mileage day) or building opposing muscular balance, i.e., pressing strength emphasizing chest and triceps resistance training. Other ideas include strengthening your core, working on flexibility, or building aerobic fitness.
Patience with the process of getting stronger and avoiding injury will allow for the fastest progression. Too much training or “one more go” when you are tired can leave you vulnerable to a pulley injury that will take several months to heal.