07 April 2015

Fritz Tips? (Tip #3) Staying Healthy

I've been getting a lot of inquiries to write about finger strengthening tips and injury prevention. I've been lucky enough to slip through my career so far without having any detrimental injuries. Of course I can't speak medically, but I can definitely write about what I do to stay healthy/recoup, and hopefully that helps!

1. Cut back on booze. Alcohol dehydrates tendons, and leaves them vulnerable and more susceptible to injury. Also, increase water intake. Even if you think you're getting enough, try to drink more. 

2. Invest in a massager... A finger massager, a forearm massager, a foam roller, etc. I have all of the above, and they work wonders.

3. Water water water. And food.  Did I say drink more water? Something that's more of a recent additions to my current training habits is diet. We need food to live. Ceasing intake of food leads to muscle deterioration and, like with too much alcohol, tendons become weak and susceptible to injury. The changes I've made have been nutritional. I still eat a TON of food, but before I was all about Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, and In-N-Out. While I still enjoy indulging in these delicious things, it's in far more moderation. I've kicked it up with the veggies and proteins, and toned it down a little with carbs. My favorites are salmon and asparagus, tuna and zucchini, and for grains it's brown rice or quinoa. When I do find myself suddenly in the In-N-Out drive-thru line having no recollection of how I got up there, I'll get my #2 animal style wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun.

4. Muscle Work and Support. Whether you think it's a placebo effect or not, I'm a big fan of kinesiology tape. The Pro-Tec kinesiology tape is my favorite, and even if I feel just the start of a minor muscle tweak, I tape. It reinforces the muscles at their insertion and origin points, and leads me to feel more confident in yarding on 'em. I also massage on a regular basis. After long approaches, it's a foam roller, and for the glutes and hammies, or I'll lay on a massage ball, like the Orb.

5. Stretch. Yoga is something I do not excel at. Actually if I'm being completely honest, I absolutely suck at yoga. I've been trying to do more of it, because as one of the tallest girls in the competitive climbing game, I find myself stuck in scrunchy positions pretty often, and the need to be more flexible is imperative. If I can't make it to 8:30am yoga with Liberty because it's too early for me, I'll sit on the floor and stretch while I watch The Walking Dead at night. Evening stretching is a good winding down process for me, with the stress of watching zombies and gore, I feel it really evens things out.

6. Strengthen. To be honest, my hangboard workout is more about strengthening to prevent injury than it is strengthening to send. I pulled a tendon in 2012 and the road to recovery was frustrating. Learning a new hangboard routine that wasn't about isolating fingers, but about strengthening them as a whole, was a big discovery for me. Now it's an almost-daily part of my life. I never do less than three fingers at a time, whether it's front three, or back three, and I do multiple different positions and hold depth. I train open-handed and bent fingers (not full crimp with thumb on top), and it has helped me significantly.

7. Recover. I rest A LOT. Some people may think I'm lazy, but obviously I know what I'm doing... haha. Seriously, though, if we push our bodies six days a week and only take one "active" rest day, it leaves us no chance for our muscles to rebuild. Climbing and working out break the myofascia in the muscles down, and if they're not given proper time to reconnect and heal, they can never get stronger. Also, even if you're skeptical of jumping on the Gnarly band-whey-gon, that stuff works wonders for my recovery. A big ole chocolate whey shake after a brutal workout and the next day I don't feel like I got hit by a train.

That's about all I have for you guys as far as my personal injury prevention/recovery goes. As always--totally feel free to write if you have questions! Seriously, though, do it. I have all the answers.


  1. Hi, thanks for this. My daughter climbs a fair amount and is having generally achey fingers when projecting harder routes, to the point that she isn't enjoying it as much. I keep pushing water, so thanks for that, and I've suggested she stop campus training (she's 13). Thoughts on that? Also, what do you recommend for a finger massager?

  2. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for the post.

    Science behind kinesio tape seem to indicate, mildly speaking, very poor record in pain reduction (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24875972).

    Do you use it to alleviate pain? Or more as a prevention?

    Personally - I'm just having troubles with distinguishing from placebo ;)

  3. Hi Alex!

    Can you go into a bit more detail about the hangboard routine that you use to prevent injury. I've had similar tendon issues and I was hoping to figure out a way to strengthen them so i stop getting tweaks. Thanks!

  4. I bought a magnet massage roller from amazon for my son. he is playing Football and his feedback about magnetic massage roller is positive with respect to normal massage roller.

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