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Rock Climbing Chronicles: A2 Pulley Strains Suck!

A2 pulley injury

At the beginning of the month I got the most common injury that rock climbers get. It isn't a leg, arm or head injury. It's to the tiniest muscles that have to bear all of your weight: your fingers.

Specifically, I have what's called an A2 Pulley Strain. Your fingers are composed of tendons, sheaths around those tendons called "pulleys," and ligaments. When the tendons in your finger are overstressed -- which is common in rock climbing -- the pulley can develop tears or completely rupture. This can result in what is rather grossly called "bowstringing."

Bowstringing

I developed a less severe version of this in my right middle finger, I believe on March 2. It didn't immediately cause any pain or make audible "pop" which others have reported. Instead it slowly got more and more achy over time.

By the next morning, I couldn't make a fist with my right hand without it hurting quite a bit. It's been slowly getting better over the past weeks, but putting weight on it is still out of the question.

It's been quite frustrating not being able to climb. I have really enjoyed my three climbs a week. And I think that my body has generally been strengthening as a result.

But I'm also counting my blessings that it is apparently just a strain and not a complete rupture, which can take many months to fully heal.

In the meanwhile, I've been researching therapeutic techniques to speed up the healing process. These rice exercises and stretches seem quite helpful and easy to do.

I'm hoping by next weekend I can start to test out gently climbing again. Crossing fingers (except for that middle one)!

 

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