I started indoor rock climbing 3 weeks ago. I do it 2-3 times a week. I noticed after today's climb that my pinky finger right hand skin is coming off. Also two other fingers skin is kinda loose. How can I avoid it next time? Should I cover or wrap the fingers with tape or something?
This is really common with beginner climbers. If you don't have enough time between climbs to give your skin a chance to recover, then yes, taping is possibly the simplest way to protect them. It can reduce some of your grip and sensitivity but can help, especially until your skin is strong enough to cope.
The idea is to make a second layer of skin with tape to protect your actual skin from ripping apart. Usually, you do it at the end of a long and hard climbing session when your skin is becoming raw and torn down. Using tape this way can save you from days of pain with large flapping injuries.
But they also discuss the reduction in grip, and how this slows down your ability to strengthen your hands, so they also mention improving technique. There are useful videos on that page showing correct taping technique.
This problem is mainly caused by you skin not being accustomed to the friction of the holds. Another factor contributing to skin loss is the jug nature of the holds in beginner routes. I find that a lot more abusive to my skin than medium level holds. This is especially true for bouldering which tends to have much steeper walls at beginner level than roped climbing.
However, I would only use tape when absolutely necessary as this will prevent your skin from adapting to climbing. Instead I would focus on the following solutions
- stop climbing when your skin is about to be worn through. There is absolutely nothing to gain by climbing until your skin is totally ruined!
- do not go climbing with skin that has not recovered yet
- improve your technique towards a more controlled grip. Avoid sliding around on holds
- If you get raw edges on your skin, you can sand them down (I rarely do this)
- Avoid climbing very newly set routes (1-2 days after setting). The texture of cleaned holds is a lot more aggressive
- Keep your hands dry. Consider using liquid chalk as a base layer in hot weather if your skin gets along with it
An most importantly: give your body time to adapt. Not only your skin and muscles (which respond fast) but also your tendons which take a longer time.
I would strongly discourage taping your fingers to protect against skin coming off for various reasons.
The first an most obvious is, that it doesn't really help (in my opinion). There are two causes for damaged skin. One is the slow abrasion, mostly on the fingertips where the tips start turning pink. Taping your tips isn't practical. The tape just comes of too fast and the loss of grip an feeling in your fingertips makes you climb a lot worse. The other is the large flapping pieces of skin that can come off. These are caused by the skin being squished and rolled onto itself and separating from the flesh underneath. While the tape can give some support, the whole skin/tape can still move. If the tape rolls and bulges a bit, it can even worsen the problem.
Secondly, if done incorrectly, taping can cause damage. I.e. by cutting of blood flow in your fingers or incorrectly supporting your tendons. If done correctly, taping your fingers can provide a massive support to your tendons etc. In some cases this can be extremely beneficial or help when recovering from an injury. The downside is, that it can hinder the tendons getting stronger on their own (they don't need to because of the external support). This can also mask out any issues you are having, like over-training/inflamation etc. If it hurts, take it easy. Maybe you can go on climbing when taping your fingers, but the problem will just get worse.
So finger taping can be a great quick fix when out climbing for a week or so and you really want to continue for a couple of days, but I wouldn't recommend it in your day to day routine.
Apart from that, I find taping all 10 fingers each session a bit impractical and it just looks strange ;)
What can you do to prevent it:
- Lessen the "death grip", beginners tend to try and crumple each grip. Try and hold on just as much as you need to.
- Work with your feet more. If you put more weight on your feet, your fingers have to carry less weight, which in turn is less likely to rip skin off your fingers.
- Give it time. For your skin to heal and for it to get tougher. This unfortunately takes a lot of time. Depending on your fitness 2-3 times a week may be a lot. For an average beginner I'd suggest 1-2 times a week. This will also prevent other injuries.
- Climb slow and controlled. Avoid jumps or "falling" into a hold. Make deliberate moves and place your fingers so they don't move around when you put weight on that hand.
- Avoid overhangs and routes with big jugs as holds towards the end of a session, when your skin gets weak.
- Help your skin recover. Chalk can be pretty nasty for you skin. Put on some creme or lotion. I'm personally a big fan of the "Climb On" bars. I don't have scientific proof, but I feel like they help a lot with skin recovery.