Has anyone else noticed that their fingers have got fatter from climbing lots? I can hardly fit my rings on any more because my fingers have got so much bigger and my boyfriend's fingers are really quite big from all the climbing! I was wondering if any one knows why this is?
There aren't any muscles in our fingers (the muscles which move them are all located in the hand) so it can't be due to muscle growth... Could it be tendon thickening? I'm just curious as I don't understand why our fingers would increase in size due to using them lots if there aren't any muscles in them??
Well, no, they're not. But they do thicken a bit and more importantly develop more bone around their insertions. Your fingers don't hypertrophy anything like as much as the flexor muscles in your forearms but, on the other hand, I suspect that the size increase (especially the bony part) probably isn't completely reversible.
Donnie on 28 Feb 2014 - cpc7-sgyl34-2-0-cust116.sgyl.cable.virginm.net
Fingers/hands tend to get swollen during the cold weather when I'm out on the hills or walking the dog on the sea wall during the winter. Not sure its anything to do with climbing unless yours are swelling during summer climbs as well.
I think its due to blood flow to the extremities in cold weather but no doubt someone will be along to tell you definitively!!
> (In reply to EmSB)
> Fingers/hands tend to get swollen during the cold weather when I'm out on the hills or walking the dog on the sea wall during the winter. Not sure its anything to do with climbing unless yours are swelling during summer climbs as well.
Actually, I think that inflammation has a lot to do with it, especially if it's after climbing intensively as the OP says.
Any long term increase in the width of your fingers is likely to be very small - tendons don't gain bulk anywhere near as much as much muscles do.
However one likely cause for fatter fingers is short term swelling. After a heavy climbing session, all the tissues of the finger (including the skin) are a bit trashed, and hence can swell quite a bit. The effect is particularly noticeable in beginners, or people who come back to climbing after a long break. For regular climbers its still noticable, but less so.
I find that after a heavy session of bouldering my wedding ring is a bit trickier to push on, but the next day it's all back to normal. In contrast, when I started climbing again a few months ago (after a year's break) my hands were swollen for several days afterwards!
Over the (almost) 50 years I've been climbing. I'd estimate that my second (PIP) finger joints are now 50 percent wider. Certainly my wedding ring has had to be enlarged substantially in the last decade. And I tend to avoid finger-jamming cracks these days! My feeling is that it is bone growth as an adaptation to the additional stresses of climbing several times a week. Apart from a few aches if I train every day, they are (relatively) pain-free despite their unattractive appearance!
The forces of the ligaments and pulleys on the bone causes both the bone and the soft tissue to adapt by growing thicker and stronger. This makes the fingers thicker, especially around the joints. If you stop climbing, over time, the adaptations will gradually revert.
I am sure there is a significant element of inflammation but it can't be just that as my wedding ring still doesn't fit anymore even when I don't climb for a long time. Or maybe It's because I've put on a stone last year