by Jullie

October 22, 2021

Rock Climbing Hands Care

Rock climbing hands care is an essential part of being a skilled rock climber. It cannot be easy to maintain because it requires a lot of patience and time, but it’s worth the effort!

This article will provide you with everything you need to know about taking care of your skin so that you have healthy, happy hands for many years. We’ll cover preventative measures as well as injuries from falls or other accidents.

What is “Rock Climbing Hands”?

If you’re a seasoned climber, you’ve probably heard of “rock climbing hands.” If you’re new to the sport, you may be wondering what we’re on about.

Most people associate rock climbing hands with the following:

How to Take Care of Rock Climbing Hands Care

1) Blisters

Blisters are tiny bubbles that develop on the top layer of the skin and can contain blood, plasma, serum, or pus.

2) Calluses

Calluses are tiny, hardened patches of skin that are thick, rough, yellowish in color, and less sensitive to touch than other parts of the skin. Read further how to can take care of hand calluses.

3) Dryness/cracking

Most rock climbers prefer to avoid wetness, and they may use things like chalk to assist them in doing so. However, chalk can be highly drying to the skin, and long-term dryness can lead to cracks.

4) Flappers

Flappers are loose patches of skin that “flap about” and leave a raw, exposed area of skin behind (typically the consequence of a ruptured blister or callus).

5) Nail breakage

Nail breakage may not appear to be a huge problem, but if you’ve ever broken a nail while climbing, you know how unpleasant it is!

The symptoms of rock climbing hands aren’t especially significant in general. They are, nevertheless, unpleasant, and if left untreated, they may raise your risk of skin infections.

Rock Climbing Hands Care

Male climber hands

Many climbers claim that avoiding dampness is the key to having healthy skin. They use gloves when doing the dishes and even try not to get their hands wet in the shower.

We understand the strategy, but it is unsustainable. Your skin is your biggest organ, and it needs moisture and nutrients to rejuvenate.

Instead of drying your skin, properly moisturize it so that it remains elastic and can stretch. There is a narrow line of mushy tips, and grandfather skin is not acceptable.

Rock climbing hands care before climbing

1) Trimming your nails

Don’t let yourself become that person. You can tell which one because the sound of their nails scrapping on the climbing wall reverberates throughout the gym. When trimming, leave a small amount of white nail showing. If you’re still scratching the wall, you didn’t cut it close enough.

If your nails hurt after you trim them, you cut them too short. To avoid hangnails, round the edge to the side of your finger. Trimming your fingernails saves everyone’s nerves and saves you a lot of discomforts. Most gyms have nail clippers on hand – ask around!

2) Moisturize your hands

Moisturize your hands for at least 1-2 hours before climbing. Should you moisturize your hands before the session? Yup.

If you apply moisturizer at the proper time, your skin will be fully moisturized and elastic when you begin tugging on holds. Rubbery skin is less prone to fracture and split, but rock-hard “plastic” skin can tear and pop open like a grape (which is not what you want).

Rock climbing hands care during climbing

1) Take care of your skin

Look at your hands during the lesson. If you notice a split or rip forming, file it down IMMEDIATELY.

If you can’t file it right away, think about cutting your session short. It’s preferable to walk away and return the next day than to be compelled to stop climbing for a few days.

2) Use the proper chalk

FrictionLabs chalk is free of drying agents and contaminants. Clean chalk keeps your skin healthy by preventing it from drying out and breaking.

Female climber hands

Rock climbing hands care after climbing

1) Make a skin file

Everyone gets blisters when they first start climbing. It’s unavoidable; accept it for now. Your blisters will eventually turn into solid and healthy calluses. Climbers want calluses that are flat and smooth. If they aren’t, they can tear and rip. Therefore it’s critical to keep that from happening. It only takes a little skin filing.

When you see fraying or calluses on your skin, use a sandpaper file to smooth them out. The less likely your skin is to snag and rip on climbing grips, the smoother it is.

Skin files are provided at the majority of gyms. That being said, you’re not the only one who would be grossed out by the prospect of sharing a file with a hundred other individuals.

2) Wash your hands

Use soap and cold water. Climbing grips are filthy – remember the man you saw stroll into the restroom wearing his climbing shoes shortly before resuming his climb?

Different Type of Rocks Affects Your Hands Differently

Each sort of rock has a distinct effect on your skin. There are several elements at work here, including temperature and humidity, but the texture and grain of the stone play a significant role.

The more time you spend climbing in a specific location, the more the unique rock will “farm” your skin into the proper state. After a week of climbing, you’ll be in great form to meet the rigors of the area.

Skin becomes softer with sandstone, quartzite, and most limestone and considerably harder with prickly rocks like granite, volcanic tuff, monzonite, and Hueco Tanks syenite porphyry. All you have to do to get the fine-grained sandstone of Fontainebleau or the Southeast is show up and let nature do the rest.

Areas such as the Buttermilks or Hueco, on the other hand, need strategy and cultivation. Climbing at the gym as often as possible is a simple method to prepare for both.

It will help you develop friendly calluses and harden your hands for working with granite and volcanic tuff. Continue climbing at the gym to get your skin soft yet firm for sandstone, but be sure to sand off calluses and rough areas before each session, so your hands feel smooth and flexible.

Best Tips for Rock Climbing Hands Care

Good skin-tough, strong, and resilient is crucial for climbing success. It doesn’t matter whether you have Sharma-strength or Margo-technique; if the skin on your hands and fingertips can’t take the stress, you won’t get very far.

Rock Climbers Hands

Find a happy medium

The perfect climbing skin, according to Steph, is “leathery, strong skin resistant to fractures and splits.” Brette agrees with the firm skin and adds that growing calluses on your hands is especially important for outdoor climbers.

It should recover rapidly as well. It all comes down to finding your optimum combination of rigid and pliable. It takes time and effort to develop solid and supple skin. Calluses, or regions of thickened, rough skin, form due to repetitive contact, pressure, and discomfort while working out at the gym or crag.

It’s critical to protect your skin from drying out as it toughens up naturally, as this might lead to cracking or tears. Steph and Brette both apply salve at night after climbing to prepare their skin for the next day.

Take care of your calluses

Consistency is the first key to developing healthy calluses. To get such calluses, you must continuously put your hands under stress.

How do you go about doing that? There’s just one way, and that’s through climbing a lot. Scan for tiny flakes of skin and regions where the callus is becoming thicker compared to the remainder of the callus as you begin to grow decent calluses. 

Gently file down such spots using a nail file or fine sandpaper, then use a nail clipper to remove small flakes. The objective is to maintain your fingertips smooth so that a bit or edge does not snag on rock and rip (ouch).

Put a climbing balm in your kit

Apply a salve before bed if you routinely exercise or climb. You can use a hand salve almost every night after climbing. It keeps my skin moist and aids in the healing of wounds.

There are a plethora of climbing-specific formulae. Find one you like and consider it a must-have for your toolkit.

Drink and eat properly

What you eat and drink has an impact on your skin. Hydration is also essential for keeping skin soft.

On lengthy climbs, it’s easy to become dehydrated, and climbers are well aware that this affects everything from flexibility to mental acuity. 

On the other hand, Dehydration hurts the skin, both by drying it out (raising the probability of splits and tears) and by decreasing the skin’s capacity to recover.

What is Rock Climbing Hands

Keep your fingerprints clean

After your workout, whether at the gym or outside, properly wash and dry your hands. It is a good idea not just for not spreading germs and bacteria, but it also eliminates chalk, which will dry your skin out during the day.

While you’re at it, check for tiny rips and abrasions and treat any wounds with antibacterial gel or ointment and bandages before applying salve to your hands.

Heal your wounds and injuries

Split tips and flappers can occur even if you’ve attained the right combination of rough and supple (called “excellent skin”). If you start bleeding, compress a handful of chalk into the wound, and it should stop bleeding.

You can cover the wound with ointment and then bandage it with climbing tape. Here is more information about how to tape fingers. Fold a tiny portion over twice to prevent the sticky side from sticking to the injury. You may leave it covered and damp for a few hours, then open it for a few hours to dry out. Then wet and cover once more.

Another trick is to use superglue. Close the wound, glue the edges down (avoid getting glue directly in the injury), tape it up, and continue climbing if a callus was ripped off. Remember to wash your hands and apply an antibiotic ointment at the end of the day. Taking care of your rock climbing hands includes proper rock climbing stretches for your hands.

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About the author 

Jullie

Jullie is a professional indoor climber. She loves speed climbing competitions. This style makes her feel like she's flying. Maybe because her other passion is flying airplanes. Obviously, high speeds are her thing.

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