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I just started rock climbing recently (by the way, it's awesome!). I tend to tear up my fingertips though when climbing on rough rock or for long periods of time. It takes a couple days for them to heal enough to where there's no pain when I press on them (after one day, the pain is minimal, but they re-open easily). Is there any way to help them heal faster?

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2 Answers 2

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Listening to your body is spot on. Let the finger heal completely before climbing again. This is very important, as a split tip is very likely to split in the same spot again.

Prevention is very important, and will help keep tips from splitting in the future. Start by moisturizing the skin regularly, especially after climbing. Use products like Climb On and Joshua Tree Salve: they will help the skin regenerate. This is very important in the winter when the skin is drier.

You can use an emory board to sand away dead skin; smooth skin is less likely to have a line of weakness that can split. If you have a big callus that is about to rip, file it down.

Your skin will build up calluses, but it does take time to adapt. Don't rush it, and keep things progressive. Pick climbs that don't have extremely sharp holds. When climbing, make sure your hands stay dry: use chalk to prevent soft skin that can split.

I've heard people using super glue to heal splits, but I've also heard it's a terrible idea from other people. Tape can also be used over the split, but I find the loss of sensitivity very distracting.

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Thanks for this. The other answer is great (don't worry guys, I'm taking your advice!), but this answer is more complete. –  GorrillaMcD Nov 29 '12 at 19:57

Not really. Not the answer you want, but your body is telling you something, you need to listen to it.

It's a lot of fun, but you need to take it slow to ease your body into it. Otherwise the fun is going to come to an end.

I've heard a lot of stories from people that buy things like these: http://shop.nicros.com/index.php/warrior-boardtm.html then go crazy trying as many one knuckle pullups they can before their muscles and tendons are strong enough for it, and ultimately injure themselves so bad they have to take several months or a year off of climbing. It sounds like you're on your way to doing something similar.

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Well, I'm not that far gone yet ;) I don't live near any good climbing, so when I get to go somewhere that does have it, I try to make the most of the time I have. I guess it'll just take time to build up the toughness in my fingertips. It's worth noting, this isn't muscle/tendon related. I tore up the skin on my fingertips on some rough rock. –  GorrillaMcD Nov 27 '12 at 15:59
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well, no. but you do come off as someone who's trying to ignore clear messages from his body. :) High level climbers have a nearly 100% rate of joint issues with their fingers / elbows / shoulders. If you want to climb for a long time, you need to learn how to listen to your body, and when to back off. :) –  DavidR Nov 27 '12 at 16:47
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@GorrillaMcD: right, its not a muscle/tendon issue, but the principle is the same: you can irreparably destroy your fingers. If you abuse your finger tip skin so bad, it will be replaced with scar tissue, and you'll be unable to feel with your fingertips for the rest of your life. You don't want to do that to yourself. –  whatsisname Nov 27 '12 at 17:10
    
@DavidR, I'm definitely interested in doing things the right way and taking care to avoid injury/damage. I'm taking you guys advice as well (partly because I don't live near any good climbing). I will take the time to let them heal comletely before climbing again. I didn't think about losing feeling in the fingertips. I'll be sure to take care then not to let that happen. –  GorrillaMcD Nov 27 '12 at 18:13

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