You feel a sharp pain across your finger after a long day of hanging on crimpers.  Your finger is swollen and difficult to bend.  You may have heard a snap or pop while pulling hard on a particular hold. It is likely that you strained or tore a pulley ligament in your finger.

The muscles in our forearms extend into long narrow tendons as they reach into the fingers. These tendons run through sheaths and are anchored down by pulleys that keep the tendons gliding flush to the bones. When excessive strain is placed on the finger tendons, the pressure exerts an outward force on the pulley, which may cause it to tear.  This is one of the most common climbing injuries, but lucky for you, it can be prevented with a rubber band and some targeted physical therapy exercises.

Best prevention exercise—

Finger expansions: perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions

This exercise strengthens the muscles in the hand and fingers that can help oppose pressure on the finger pulleys. 

Putting on the rubber band

A:  Start with a rubber band around your thumb.

B:  Rotate one half turn clockwise and loop it over your index finger.

C:  Rotate one half turn counter-clockwise and loop it over your middle finger.  Repeat this pattern until all fingers are connected.

The exercise

D:  Begin with your fingers flexed forward.

E:  Fully spread your fingers outwards against the resistance.

F:  This can also be performed with specialty equipment such as the TheraBand Hand Xtrainer

Mirror a climbing stance

G:  Perform the finger expansion exercise in a partial squat with both hands over your head.  Integrating the finger expansions into this stance is more effective because it closely simulates the body position while climbing.


For more strategies on how to prevent pulley injuries, view the full article in DPM's issue 29 on page 46.

Dr. Jared Vagy is a Physical Therapist and an authority on climbing related injuries.  He received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California.  He is board certified as an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist from the American Physical Therapy Association. He has over ten years of climbing experience and has climbed all over the world. Climbing and injury prevention are his passions and he is committed to combining the two.

Want to learn how to prevent injuries and take your climbing to the next level? Check out The Climbing Doctor’s new book titled “The Ultimate Climber – Prevent Injury and Peak Your Performance.” You can find it here. Use the code: "mojagear" and get 15% off!


Silfverskiold KL, May EJ. Flexor tendon repair in zone 2 with a new suture technique and an early mobilization program combining passive and active motion. J Hand Surg 1994;19A:53–60. 

Groth GN. Pyramid of progressive force exercises to the injured flexor tendon. J Hand Ther 2004;17(1): 31–42.

Cannon NM, Strickland JW. Therapy following flexor tendon surgery. Hand Clin 1985;1:147.Skirven TM. Rehabilitation after tendon injuries in the hand. Hand Surg 2002;7(1):47–59. 

Wadsworth C, ed.  Current Concepts of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. La Crosse, Wis: Orthopaedic Section, APTA Inc; 2001:10. 

Manske PR, Lesker PA. Nutrient pathways of flexor tendons in primates. J Hand Surg Am. 1982;7:436–444.

Aoki M, Kubota H, Pruitt DL, Manske PR. Biomechanical and histological characteristics of canine flexor repair using early postoperative mobilization. J Hand Surg Am. 1997;22:107–114.

Boyer MI, Goldfarb CA, Gelberman RH. Recent progress in flexor tendon healing. J Hand Ther. 2005;18:80–85.Horst, Eric.  Training for climbing. Helena, Montana: FalconGuides; 1st edition, December 1, 2002.

Traveling across the world and now North America, while living out of the luxuries of his Tacoma, professional climber Jonathan Siegrist (also know as J-Star) has been on an epic track of crushing hard climbs and spreading psych to us all. 

In a past interview with La Sportiva, Jonathan shared that some of his lifetime climbing goals were:

To make a sizable contribution to route climbing in the US, travel the world, meet and exchange stories with amazing people, gather memorable experience and live to recount it all.


A look into the process of working Spectrum (5.14c)

Well, Jonathan has certainly stuck to those ambitions. Recently turning 29, Jonathan has racked up an impressive set of achievements in his past 10 years of climbing, while consistently contributing to the cultivation of the climbing community. After stumbling into the sport in 2004—first through bouldering as a form of cross-training for downhill mountain bike racing—Jonathan has quite literally embraced the world of rock climbing.

He has climbed over 400 5.13s, some of the world's greatest and most challenging 5.14s, numerous beastly trad and big wall routes—oh and not to mention Biographie (the world's first consensus 5.15a).


See the Story behind Jonathan Siegrist's send of Biographie:

And today, Jonathan continues to climb hard, travel, and inspire stoke wherever he goes. Currently, J-Star is crushing in the Northeast. And here's a little proof:


Watch his latest send of Livin' Astro (5.14c) in Rumney, NH:

Thanks for the endless inspiration Jonathan! Keep living the dream!

Jonathan Siegrist is a professional climber, sponsored by Arc'teryx, La Sportiva, Metolius, Climb On!, Maxim Ropes, and Smith Optics. To learn more and explore his adventures, check out his blog, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

P.S. If you'd like to contribute, we'd love to share your story.

AuthorNatalie Siddique

With the spirit of all things Yosemite in the air—post-Reel Rock 9, and now, as Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson prepare to tackle the Dawn Wall again—we wanted to bring back a look into another perspective on modern day climbing in the Valley.

In On Assignment, Renan Ozturk follows Jimmy Chin as he shares his perspective on what it means to capture adventure in the remarkable place, while working on a feature story for National Geographic.

I think Yosemite climbing has a certain purity to it, because the climbers are up there battling it out, pushing through physical and mental challenges, far from the eyes of the world; there’s nobody there to see it. To be able to bring those stories back, those moments back is really inspiring for me.
— Jimmy Chin

Renan Ozturk is an expedition climber, landscape artist, and film-maker. He was National Geographic's 2013 Adventurer of the Year and co-founded the Camp 4 Collective adventure sports production company. To learn more about Renan, explore his website

P.S. If you'd like to contribute, we'd love to share your story.

Photo: Joshua Kruger

Photo: Joshua Kruger

Not all of us can boast brute strength or an impeccable ape index. So to make our way up the climbs that inspire us—we need to get creative with impeccable technique. We're personally big fans of the beached whale, throw-yourself-over-the-ledge approach to sketchy top outs in times of desperation, however, we found the beta on a few useful, but unconventional approaches to grabbing holds in times when pulling down just isn't enough.

Here are 5 unique techniques to throw into your "ninja grab bag" from Matt Samet's Crag Survival Handbook:

1. The wrist pull

If you have only one good handhold but need to generate two-handed momentum, grab your engaged arm around your wrist with your free hand, pulling on the wrist as if it were a handhold. This movement imparts a minor hydraulic boost.

2. The false grip

For big, beefy, cross-body reaches off horns or buckets, place your hand in an undercling position, and then rotate it inward 90 degrees, back toward you; hook your palm and fingers over the horn, and "beast a lever" to your target hold.

3. The thumbdercling

To stand into scoops, bowls, or depressions, or to stabilize on slabby terrain, engage an undercling with your thumb pressing up against a small downward-pointing overlap in opposition to your feet.

4. The fishhook

To use your thumb as if it were a finger, floss it into a pocket, seam, or fissure and curl or cam it; also permits you to place your fingers outside the thumbhole on deformities in the rock.

5. The slimp-to-crimp

When you go hard and high for a crimp, you can't always close the grip. Try to grab the crimper as you would a sloper (in the sloping-crimp position), and then turn on the crimp as you bring your feet up or catch a helper hold with your other hand.

While solid strength and extra length help greatly in climbing, creativity in how you adapt through technique can catch anyone up. Try these moves out next time you're on the rock or at the gym and let us know how it goes!

Photo: Ashton Martin

Photo: Ashton Martin

P.S. If you'd like to contribute, we'd love to share your story.

AuthorNatalie Siddique