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Injury Advice for Tightness in Hand and Forearm
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By Logan Schiff
From NY, NY
Feb 13, 2013

Recently I have been experiencing a somewhat unpleasant sensation in my right hand and forearm when typing or using my ergonomic mouse at work. Basically my forearm and the right side of my hand, especially my pinky, start to feel really tight/stiff. It's more an unpleasant sensation than painful, but is definitely affecting my productivity at work. Sadly, I have a desk job and am at the computer constantly. The tightness briefly subsides when I do pronator exercises with a hammer.

So how, if at all, does this relate to climbing? During the winter I've been climbing 2-3 times a week at the gym to stay in shape and have been doing some exercises 1-2 times a week on rock rings at home. I haven't done anything too out of the ordinary recently other than maybe focusing a bit more on endurance training and doing more frenchies at home. My arm feels pretty good when climbing so I am reluctant to take time off, but the tightness at work has continued for about a week now. I also noticed a slight bit of pain in my forearm when shaking hands with someone right after typing for a while today.

Any thoughts/suggestions are much appreciated. Quitting the desk job is unfortunately not an option at this point. I've been climbing for 3 years, roughly 2-3 times per week outside and/or at the gym.


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By D Argyle
From Englewood, CO
Feb 13, 2013
Me

Any tingling in your fingers? I have compressed ulnar nerves in both arms, a result of 13 years of climbing and 5 years working as a drafter (lots of mouse and keyboard work). I get a tightening feeling that sounds like what you're describing combined with tingling sensations in my ring and pinky fingers.

I haven't done much for the issue. Doc said there is a surgical procedure that entails a slice somewhere near the elbow, meant to relieve pressure on the nerve. I'm not too stoked on that. I do get relief from RICE, exercises, and by ensuring that I practice good ergonomics, whether when climbing (being conscious of overgripping, keeping my arms straight, reducing the number of crimpy/fingery routes/problems I do, etc.) or when sitting at my desk.

Might want to consult a doc or physical therapist to get it checked out. If it's ulnar nerve compression it can become a chronic condition (like mine) which will definitely impact your climbing and work.


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By Logan Schiff
From NY, NY
Feb 13, 2013

D Argyle wrote:
Any tingling in your fingers? I have compressed ulnar nerves in both arms, a result of 13 years of climbing and 5 years working as a drafter (lots of mouse and keyboard work). I get a tightening feeling that sounds like what you're describing combined with tingling sensations in my ring and pinky fingers. I haven't done much for the issue. Doc said there is a surgical procedure that entails a slice somewhere near the elbow, meant to relieve pressure on the nerve. I'm not too stoked on that. I do get relief from RICE, exercises, and by ensuring that I practice good ergonomics, whether when climbing (being conscious of overgripping, keeping my arms straight, reducing the number of crimpy/fingery routes/problems I do, etc.) or when sitting at my desk. Might want to consult a doc or physical therapist to get it checked out. If it's ulnar nerve compression it can become a chronic condition (like mine) which will definitely impact your climbing and work.


Thanks for the detailed reply! My fingers feel more stiff than tingly but certainly sounds like it could be a similar issue. A bit scary. I guess I should get it checked out if it doesn't go away soon. Good luck dealing with your condition. That surgery does not sound fun.


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By frankstoneline
Feb 14, 2013

Logan Schiff wrote:
Thanks for the detailed reply! My fingers feel more stiff than tingly but certainly sounds like it could be a similar issue. A bit scary. I guess I should get it checked out if it doesn't go away soon. Good luck dealing with your condition. That surgery does not sound fun.


Could be opposing muscle imbalance, you could look into doing the rice bucket workouts (google or a search of the forums should set you in the right direction) or work with the gripmaster (i think) ball thingy. I got mine through metolius and it has helped with opposing hand muscle stability it seems.


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By Allie
From the open road
Feb 14, 2013

Hi Logan,
sorry about your troubles... I KNOW how annoying these overuse injuries/imbalances can be. I too have been dealing with injuries from too much gym climbing/bouldering this winter.

I just want to say--my uneducated, yet experienced, opinion is that probably whatever is going on is all steming from the inside of your forearms growing ginormous from all the training you have been doing... If I were you I would take one week off and do a lot of wrist extension/finger extension exercises. My favorite is putting rice in a bucket and using the resistance from the rice to extend my fingers in. Also, I learned a wonderful tool lately that I only know as the "forearm smash" this really helps with tightness in your forearm. Just put your arm on the ground palm facing towards you, and use your knee to massage out your forearm.

Hope this helps a little. Don't worry--it won't be winter forever. You will climb outside again sooner than you realize ;)


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By Logan Schiff
From NY, NY
Feb 14, 2013

Allie and Frank - Thanks for the advice. I've been thinking about doing rice exercises for a while, and you've convinced me it's finally time to take the plunge. My wife will probably kill me, but I'm sure we can find some space for a 20 pound bucket of rice somewhere in our tiny apartment. Will also strongly consider taking some time off. You're probably right Allie that this is from overdoing it at the gym. I know I don't take nearly enough time off between boulder problems etc. Please let winter end soon!

PS: The forearm smash is awesome!


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