I recently re-started to get into rock climbing but I've been having a lot of tough time with my fingers cramping up after I get off the wall. And the worst part of it is, I have to paddle down a good 30 km to get back home as I go cycling.
I have observed, it happens almost in about half an hour or so of climbing and is getting fairly painful by each passing day.
For a good minute after I get off a wall I can't extend my fingers at all unless I force them to, which again is fairly painful. I do have difficulties in cycling way back home as I have to break very often due to traffic. I've also noticed that as this starts, a few times my grip strength is greatly reduced.

Does anyone know what exactly is going on with my hands and how I can take steps to fix it?

  • Has this improved for you? How are you doing?
    – Mr.Wizard
    Dec 17, 2013 at 10:54
  • @Mr.Wizard: Sorry for replying pretty late. Had been away with work. Yes, the ans by Benedikt here, worked to some extent for me. I did change (extend) my warm-up sessions a bit, and the endurance is looking fine and gradually increasing. Its more about regularity.
    – WedaPashi
    Dec 21, 2013 at 7:24
  • 1
    I'm glad to hear you're doing better. Have fun climbing!
    – Mr.Wizard
    Dec 21, 2013 at 7:28

1 Answer 1


I have to admit that I am no health professional but to me it sounds like you are just trying to climb harder that your muscles allow after your climbing break.

The problem with restarting any physical activity after some time of being away from it is, that your brain and the memory of your motor system still know how to do things but your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints have lost strength. Therefore you are very likely to just overdo when starting an activity again. Especially with climbing there are some things where you are able to compensate a lack of strength with some bad habit techniques that are prone to give you some bad injuries.

So first of all I would think that you are maybe just climbing harder than your muscles allow at the moment. Also not warming up your fingers enough could influence your muscle performance. Maybe you have also lost some confidence in the belay gear and therefore crimp more than you would have to.

In any case I would recommend to just take it easy for the next times of climbing until you have sort of regained your strength. That means, better take some really easy routes for warming up and then increase the grade slowly. Especially if you feel that your grip strength is reduced don't try to compensate with weird hand positions or the like.

If your muscles start to cramp better stop climbing for that session or at least take some hours of break. As you have to cycle home after climbing, better stop climbing a bit earlier than at a point where you already cannot open your fist anymore.

  • I usually experience cramping every time I re-start climbing after long pauses; and it does feel to me as Benedikt is on the right track. Maybe it would also help to do more/better warm up exercises for your fingers? (you do warm up your fingers, right?)
    – Roflo
    Nov 20, 2013 at 16:00
  • @Roflo: Yes I do
    – WedaPashi
    Nov 21, 2013 at 6:27

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