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Annual pulley tendon strain, musings
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By JesseT
From Portland, OR
Feb 9, 2013
25' drop...wheeeeee!

Yes, I do mean "annual" even though this year it also happens to be one of my annular pulleys.

Every winter I seem to strain one of my pulley tendons. This sets me back every year and I start off the season just about as weak as the season before (but with slightly better technique). I only ever seem to get injured climbing plastic. This year it was my right index finger (aka. the trigger finger).

The good news this time? I pulled it 4 days ago, and was able to climb a little today without aggravating it (in fact, I think it feels a little better). I think I'm getting better at having strained tendons. :eyeroll: Practice makes perfect, I guess.

What I did right this time:

Day of the injury:
-I immediately stopped climbing once it started hurting.
-I didn't keep poking it and messing with it to make sure the problem was what I thought it was.

Today:
-I taped my finger pretty heavily (partly to remind myself not to use it if I could help it). The method I used was a criss-cross that was comfortably loose, but tightened the more the finger bent.
-I climbed below my level (except for one which I was able to do without using the offending digit).
-I let go of the wall the instant I noticed myself relying on the finger.

Edit: I didn't crimp at all either.

I didn't use any ice or heat this time.

Now, if only I could figure out how to not get hurt in the first place...or is that asking too much?

Has anyone else out there had a similar experience?


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By kenr
Feb 9, 2013

Sorry I don't know enough to help, but maybe someone can deal with my ignorance of basic anatomy ...

Aren't these pulley things actually "ligaments" or something?


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By JesseT
From Portland, OR
Feb 10, 2013
25' drop...wheeeeee!

Pulley tendons are kinda weird things. Ligaments connect a bone to an adjacent bone and tendons extend from a muscle to connect a muscle to a bone. Pulley tendons do neither. They attach at both ends to the same bone, but provide a channel for tendons to operate through. So, they sort of connect a tendon to a bone which makes them functionally more like tendons than ligaments. This is my understanding, at least (I've had a lot of time to research this due to my extensive down time caused by my annual tendon strains...lucky me).

The main reason I posted this, though, was to maybe provide some help or guidance to those who lack my unfortunate experience on the subject.


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By Charles Kinbote
From Brooklyn, NY
Feb 10, 2013
On Waimea, 5.10d

Oh yeah, I've had my share of pulley strains, on rock and plastic. Who hasn't? Sometimes it's a little tweak and you can take a couple days off, then get right back to it...4 weeks down the road and it's a memory. Sometimes it's taken me 4-5 months to regain my previous level. I've heard horror stories about climbers who've had blowouts and can't aggressively crimp anymore. At all. Ever.

Some observations:

-When I'm mostly recovered I get in a strange situation where I can crimp moderately hard but direct pressure on the pulley from jugs f'in hurts. So, I've got to be careful even on V-stupid-easy moves at the gym. Less of an issue on rock.
-I injure my ring fingers the most frequently and they seem to take the longest time to recover. My middle fingers always bounce back quickly. Maybe it's all a coincidence.
-I've always hated wrapping injured fingers with tape. A tight wrap seems to press on the recovering tissue and aggravate it. A loose wrap doesn't do anything.
-It's been my experience that I could always climb through the injury at a reduced level. Cracks and slabs are easy on injured pulleys.


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