Want to improve your climbing? A healthy grip is key

Rock climbing has been quickly gaining popularity in recent years, with rock climbing gyms popping up in cities and towns all over the country and even being added as an Olympic sport as of 2020. The industry overall grew by  

  • 6.9% in 2016 
  • 10% in 2017 
  • And 11.8% in 2018, according to the Climbing Business Journal.  

Whether you’ve been wanting to try climbing for the first time, or if you’ve been climbing for a while, sooner or later you’re going to run up against your grip limits if you aren’t building your strength. While climbing is a full-body sport, it obviously relies heavily on your fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, and shoulders 

To advance in climbing, you need to be able to hang from small holds, holds that are sloped, and pull yourself up while relying on your fingers to hold you.  

Max finger strength for climbers is typically seen as being able to grab a hold and hang on for 5-10 seconds at a time. So, what do you need to work on to see improvements in your grip and in your overall climbing ability 

You’ll need to be able to strengthen individual fingers, but you also need to work on your flexor and extensor muscles and tendons – the ones that help you make a fist or open your grip, respectively. Climbing naturally relies on your flexor tendons (picture your fingers grabbing or pinching a hold), so if you don’t also work on extension to strengthen your forearms, you won’t see the progress you want. Ignoring the extension part of your grip will also set you up for elbow pain, possible elbow tendonitis, and wrist pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.  

Don’t rely just on hangboards to improve your grip for climbing  

Climbing gyms usually have hangboards set up so climbers can warm up their hands and forearms, work on holds, and challenge their fingers while building strength in positions like the full crimp, half crimp, and open hand holds. Many climbers will even install hangboards in their home for extra practice sessions!  

But there are some downsides when it comes to relying on hangboards to help you improve your finger, hand, and overall grip strength. For one, you can’t train on a hangboard anywhere you want, and it’s not always practical or possible to install one at home.  

In addition, if you aren’t performing hangs correctly with a hangboard, you could increase your risk of a finger injury. And for people who’ve had a finger injury in the past or are new to climbing, they will need to use caution when training with a hangboard and make sure they aren’t straining their fingers.   

Another challenge with hangboards is that the only way to keep progressively building strength in each finger is to train while climbing with more weight.  

You might end up hitting a plateau in your finger strength and pulling ability if your fingers and forearms aren’t trained equally. When you work on strengthening the extensors in your forearms, you’ll be able to move past the plateau and see gains in your grip strength again.  

How Dynatomy can help you improve your grip  

Dynatomy’s hand exercisers are designed with input from hand therapists to be ergonomic and comfortable but also to address the types of hand, finger, and wrist injuries they often treat.  

The VariGrip Sport Pro has adjustable resistance for each finger, so you can gradually build your strength and quickly see which fingers are weaker and need more work. Pinky finger noticeably weaker than your middle or index finger? You can work the pinky finger independently and build your strength without risking injury from increasing the load too quickly.  

VariGrip Sport Improve your climbing grip

In climbing, you often need to have a hooked grip, or even a pinched grip where you’re holding on with just your thumb and index finger. You can build up strength and reduce discomfort by practicing these moves with VariGrip 

Want to improve your ability to grip sloped or open hand holds? You’ll want to work on your extension ability, which will also help minimize wrist, forearm, and elbow pain that climbers often experience. The Constant Force X-Tend is unique in that it keeps the resistance level constant throughout the entire range of motion. Most extension exercisers use elastics to drive resistance, which makes the tension much higher at the end range of motion and can be uncomfortable for many people, particularly if their forearms or elbows are already feeling strained.  

Constant Force improve your climbing gripThe exercisers are convenient to use anytime, anywhere, so you can work on your grip while you’re watching tv or even while in Zoom meetings! The adjustable resistance levels with the VariGrip Sport or VariGrip Sport Pro means you can progress your strength, even if you’re just starting out and your grip doesn’t feel strong yet.  

Add these to your climbing training and you’ll be able to make bigger moves and work on more challenging routes before you know it!