by Brad

September 28, 2021

Crimping Climbing Technique

Before undertaking the challenge of climbing more difficult problems, enhancing your hand placement and grip is essential.

With the correct gripping technique, you can handle and maneuver all holds you encounter in your adventure. Besides, it will come in handy in hindering injuries and slippage. 

Whenever you’re climbing a rugged crag or boulder, one of the most suitable ways to grasp onto small holds is by crimp grip.

Today, we talk more about the crimping climbing technique. Most advanced rock climbers prefer full crimp grip as it provides the most effective hand position and grasp. 

Plus, this aggressive hand placement can secure your hold on the narrow edges and hinder you from falling off. During a crimp grip, all the tension accumulates on the finger tendons and joints. For this reason, if it’s not done right, it could lead to injury. 

But, thanks to our comprehensive guide, you’ll better understand the crimping climbing technique, how and when to use it, and how to prepare for it.

Here we go! 

What Is Crimping in Rock Climbing?

What is Crimping Climbing

Crimping, also referred to as crimp climbing, is a climbing technique where the fingertips are the only ones in contact with the climbing hold. These are usually small holds that are not spacious, so they can only accommodate the fingertips. 

Typically, these sorts of holds are featured on more aggressive climbs. Besides, due to the tension on your hand and finger tendons, crimping is among the most common climbing techniques that could lead to injury. 

Nevertheless, it is also one of the most preferred rock-climbing techniques on more progressive climbs; thus, learning it is crucial. 

How to Do a Crimp While Climbing

Before we delve into how to do a crimp while climbing, it is essential that you understand that it is among the most challenging rock-climbing techniques. Therefore, it can seriously injure your finger muscles, tendons, and joints if it is not done right. 

All the same, here’s how to properly execute a crimp while climbing;

  • Position your fingertips on the hold.
  • Upon placing them on the edge of the handle, curl your fingers to trigger the second joint. 
  • To ensure your grip is secure, fold your thumb over the index fingernail and then close the crimp. 
  • Ensure you always lock your crimp since it boosts your pulling strength and makes the grasp more powerful.

Different Climbing Holds Where You Crimp

Full Crimp

Also known as a closed grip, this hold requires you to place four of your fingertips on the handle, curling your first knuckles and bending your thumb over the index fingernail. This is a completely locked position, and by placing the thumb over your fingers, you add more pressure on the hold. 

So far, this is the most aggressive crimp position. This means that it provides the most power and strength, and at the same time, it is the most high-risk position. For this reason, you shouldn’t underestimate it. 

Since this grasp puts pressure on the joints, you should use the half and open grips as often as possible. Besides, it comes with the risk of having finger injuries; thus, it should be utilized as a last resort.

What is the Crimping Climbing Technique

When to Use Full Crimps

When doing the full crimp, remember it is only ideal for the holds with narrow edges, and only the fingertips can fit. 

On the other hand, the most suitable grips are those that have square cuts and a small recess to place your fingertips, and they’re usually found on limestone cliff and granite routes. 

Half Crimp

This gripping technique is useful when you’re sticking to minor holds. It is almost the same as close crimping, though you’re not required to lock the index with the thumb upon holding the edge. 

Moreover, it is more comfortable on the joints compared to a full crimp. Nonetheless, while doing a half crimp, the grasp is not that strong; since it does not include a thumb lock for a fixed grip. 

When to Utilize Half Grip

Just like a full crimp, half crimps are ideal for use on narrow edges. This crimp is not to be utilized regularly during your climbing sessions. It would be best to use it on smaller and narrower holds. 

However, since it puts the fingers under less pressure than a complete crimp, most advanced climbers recommend utilizing it whenever possible. While you can use it often, do not overdo it to avoid injuring your fingers. 

Open Hand Grip

Lastly, we have the open hand grip, where rock climbers hold on to the holds with their fingers stretched. In this crimping method, the finger joints are curled inwards in a normal position. 

What’s more, this technique allows the climbers to stick on the surface utilizing two standard mechanisms; hooks and friction. You can use both or either approach to continue climbing, depending on the holds. 

When trying the open hand crimp, you can generate friction by positioning a considerable part of your hand on the handles. Similarly, you can achieve hooks by curling your hands in a J placement while grasping the handholds. 

Even though friction is often utilized on slopers, the hooks come in handy in getting a hold of the jugs. Because your arms bend in a natural placement, this technique is more comfortable and less demanding on your joints. Contrary to the full crimp, the open hand grip doesn’t risk finger injuries. 

Different Hand Positions when Crimping

Crimp in Rock Climbing

Half and Full Crimps

In these two positions, the fingers are curled at the first knuckle. However, you have to lock the thumb on top of the index for additional pulling power for the full crimp. 

Open Hand Grips

For the open hand grip technique, the climber holds with the fingers stretched. Also, the middle knuckle remains straight. 

It is the least stressful technique as the joints are straight. Again, it is the least powerful crimping technique.

Which Climbing Crimp Should I Use?

The most suitable kind of rock-climbing crimp will depend on multiple variables in your adventure. Besides, your grip strength and the type of hold will play a significant role in determining the ideal crimp to use. 

Even though crimping offers you plenty of power to hold on to, utilizing a full crimp frequently is not recommended. It could result in over gripping and risk getting injured when you could have simply used an open hand or half crimp. 

If you’re a beginner climber, go for the open hand grip since it’s the easiest and safest to maneuver. 

Crimp Climbing Injuries

Here are some of the injuries that come with rock climbing crimping.

Climbing injuries usually involve the bones and tendons on the hands. The overutilization of the tendons and muscles in the fingers and hands could result in injuries after some time. Learn how to tape your fingers if they are bleeding.

These injuries are known as non-traumatic, and they usually occur after overusing your hands, elbows, fingers, and wrists since these parts of your arms take on most of your weight. 

On the other hand, traumatic injuries are usually caused by falling or making big moves on a small crimp with insufficient footwork and body placement where the fingers can’t handle it. 

These injuries take time to heal; thus, you need to rest a lot to allow the injured part to gain flexibility gradually. Also, it would help if you refrained from climbing until there’s no pain left. 

Crimp Climbing Training

How to Use Crimping in Rock Climbing

Because crimping is extremely hand-intensive, some of these training suggestions are hand-strength specific. 

1) Grip Donuts

Crimp training is somewhat basic and lets you build enough strength swiftly and conveniently. You could train using grip rings made using rubber. 

Typically, grip rings feature various weight training lengths, and they’re entirely quieter than those with a squeaking spring. 

2) 2.5-Second Rule

This workout is ideal for all kinds of climbing holds, and it is particularly suitable for crimp holds since they need a lot more focus than other kinds of grips. 

3) Hang-Boarding

This is among the most common training methods utilized by climbers, though beginners should be careful. Hangboard workout is among the regimens that could risk hand injuries; therefore, be cautious if you want to try it out. 

Begin with two workouts every week with several days’ rest in between. However, when it becomes easy for you, it is alright to increase to three exercises weekly, but not more than that. 

Crimping Climbing Technique Q&A

How to Use Crimp in Rock Climbing

Should You Train Full Crimp-on a Fingerboard?

Once you decide to improve your skills, you should consider finger-strength workouts. Most climbers try fingerboard training after a year or two of constant climbing. 

Even after that time, numerous climbers continue to improve frequently from easy climbing workouts without focusing on finger strength. 

So, yes, you should train full crimp on a fingerboard, but this depends on your skill level. Thus, if you’re a beginner, this might not be suitable for you. 

Which Is More Dangerous: Full-Crimp or Half-Crimp?

A full crimp is more dangerous. If you utilize the full crimp often, you risk developing traumatic finger injuries that might never heal fully. It would be best to restrict the full crimp to circumstances where no other hand placement will work. 

Why Is It Bad to Do a Full Crimp?

While it is not necessarily bad to do a full crimp, this is quite a dangerous technique that comes with the risk of having chronic hand injuries that might never totally heal.

Generally, crimps put plenty of stress on your finger tendons and joints. For this reason, it is most suitable to rely on this climbing mechanism when necessary. This means you can avoid long-term finger injuries in the long run. 

In the worst-case scenario, you might suffer from chronic finger injuries that could mean you never climb again. If you twist your fingers when trying to crimp climb, it will help if you take a break from climbing until you recover fully. Take several days off to avoid long-term injuries. 

Can You Climb Without Crimping?

Even though it is necessary to have the finger strength to rock climb, it is not the only variable to weigh in, specifically in terms of grabbing non-crimps. You require your hand to utilize open-handed holds, though your success depends on how well you use your body. 

What to Do when Your Finger Hurts when Crimping?

The first thing to do is to stop climbing instantly. If you can’t see a doctor immediately, assess your finger for the next few days to determine how severe the injury is. In the meantime, combine cold therapy with gentle finger workouts for the finger that hurts. 

The first three days are critical in terms of icing, and you’re supposed to continue icing whenever you feel pain. Furthermore, if there is brushing or the finger joint is unstable, you should visit a doctor. 

All the same, if there is no brushing but no improvement, you should see a doctor. The physician might do an MRI to find the issue and will afterward create a treatment plan. 

When it comes to recovery periods, they will vary depending on the seriousness, though 4 to 6 weeks is the standard time. Once you heal and are okay to climb, begin with the easy problems, and progress from there. 

Where Do You Put Pressure When Crimp Climbing?

Crimping in Rock Climbing

The finger joints and tendons. Because the finger joints and tendons take all the pressure when performing crimp grips, it could result in finger injuries if it’s not done properly. Thus, it would help if you were careful when doing the crimping climbing technique. 

Is It Dangerous to Crimp Too Hard When Rock Climbing?

Yes. However, if you’re mostly doing open-hand crimp, there is no harm. Typically, crimp grasps are useful when climbing over small flakes and in-cut edges. 

Even though the hand placement feels a bit more comfortable when doing the full and half crimps, the risk of injuring your finger joints and tendons is high. Thus, if you crimp too much, it could harm your fingers. 

How Do I Get Better at Crimping?

If you are looking to improve your crimping climbing skills, here’s how;

1) Enhance Your Grasping Strength

Grasp a pull-bar with your hands facing you, and swing from it. Normally, this is an isometric workout as the joints are immobile as you hang from it. Hang for about a minute and slowly increase the amount of time. 

You can as well hold weights and walk. Increase the weight in both hands and walk for a specific distance or time. You can begin with a short walk. This workout is ideal for the arms and hands. 

Moreover, you can squeeze a tiny stress ball or a relatively deflated small ball. Utilize your fingers and hands to press it for about 30 seconds, followed by a moment of relaxation. Also, a tiny ball will do the trick. Squeeze it for 30 seconds, then switch hands and do it again. 

2) Do Hand Exercise

Do wrist curls utilizing weights. With the weights held in your hands and palms up, place your forearms on a table with your arms off the end of the table. Gradually allow the weights to drop inside into the fingers. Lastly, curl your wrists so that your fingers bend toward the arm.

Do these 10 to 13 times. 

Reverse wrist curls: Hold weights with your hands and the knuckles facing up. Rest the forearms on your thighs or table. Slowly curl your wrists to allow the knuckles to point down and then bend them back toward your forearms. 

Do these 10 to 12 times.

How to do crimping in rock climbing

Squeeze a ball with your hands flat: Keep your hands open, facing each other, and close to the elbows. Press your hands against each other and attempt changing the ball’s shape. Hold the ball for 3 to 7 seconds, then take a break. 

Do these 10 to 20 times.

3) Boost finger strength

Sand Bucket Workouts:

  1. Place your hands in a bucket with sand.
  2. Try bending your fingers gradually like you’re making a fist and then slowly open them against the pressure of the sand.
  3. Make sure you close your hand and spread them completely. 

Do these 5 to 7 times. 

Rubber Bands:

  1. Utilize rubber bands for improved finger resistance.
  2. Place two rubber bands around your fingers and wrap them around once more.
  3. Try closing and opening your palms against the band a few times. 

Do these 5 to 7 times. 

Final Thoughts on the Crimping Climbing Technique

Well, there you go; how to do crimping in rock climbing. If you’re looking to boost your rock climbing and crimping game, it is vital to master as many moves as possible. 

Crimping climbing technique is among the best grip moves in rock climbing. While it is hard to master, it is very effective during your adventure. 

On the other hand, if you are determined to learn this technique much more, you should be cautious since it comes with the risk of many injuries. If you don’t perform it correctly, you might suffer from severe finger injuries and other related injuries as well.

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About the author 

Brad

Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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