/ Fingerboard & numb fingers

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J Whittaker - on 13 Sep 2017
I'm relatively new to finger strength training and have been doing it for about 3 months on & off (mainly when I'm away offshore for work and cant climb). I've been taking it steady with max 2 sessions per week following Eric Horst's beginner routine:

12 second hang, 2 minutes rest, 5 reps, 2 sets with a 5 minute rest in between sets.

Id say I've probably done between 10-15 sessions with no issues. Last week I finished up a session and my finger tips especially on my left hand felt tingly/numb and I thought nothing of it. Now at least a week later the middle two finger tips on my left hand still feel tingly/numb.

Any one else experienced this? It's slightly concerning!
Alun - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

I haven't experienced it, so can't be of specific help. What I can tell you is that you've been doing a lot of fingerboarding (15 sessions @ two a week = 7 weeks). That's a lot for anybody, but particularly for somebody who is climbing in your grade range.

My suggestion is to give the fingerboard a rest for a few weeks, focus on endurance or whatever, and come back to it later.

(Better still, ditch the fingerboard completely and go bouldering, it'll be better for your climbing anyway. Although I get that the fingerboard is more convenient).
Tomtom - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

Also, you're following a 'max hang' protocol. For finger max strength gains. 3 months of that is pretty intense.
If you're new to finger boarding, or even not a higher grade climber/climber of a good few years, take it easy, but it's understandable that you want to train when you're away.
That being the case, vary your training, use a repeaters protocol for a while, more geared to power-endure even towards the endure end of the scale.
Essentially 7 seconds on 3 seconds off - 6 reps, rest 2 min. Sets and blocks of sets vary, depending on experience. Use a variety of grips but easier ones than you'll have been doing in your max hangs.
J Whittaker - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to Alun:
I'll definitely be giving it a rest until my fingers feel normal again. When I am at home I'm either out climbing or ill go bouldering to train, it's just I cant do anything else when I'm stuck offshore except bring a portable fingerboard with me.

I didn't realize I was over doing it, I thought I was following a beginner strategy haha.

Edit: The 15 sessions are a bit more spread out as I work 3 weeks on 3 weeks off so more like 3 weeks of doing finger training (2 x per week) then 3 weeks of normal climbing at home with no specific finger training.
Post edited at 06:46
zmv - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

I had that sensation last year from repeatedly trying a route with a sharp two finger pocket. No medic here but probably some minor nerve damage. Took me a few weeks to regain full sensation but training indoors and just avoiding sharp holds for a few weeks was enough in my case.
TraverseKing - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

Take a break from the fingerboard. After about 6 months after I started climbing I started a brutal fingerboard training - 3x hour sessions / week, added weights, etc. After few weeks my whole forearms were numb (not only the fingers) and I was waking up screaming during the night because of the pain. The feeling/pain felt like I was sleeping on my arms and the blood was just getting back into them (my hands were warm each time). At the end it was so bad that I could not climb even a 6a as I could not feel the jugs. I know my fault . It took about 6 months + to get back to normal.
slab_happy on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

Tingly/numb obviously sounds like a nerve issue. My first suspicion would be that a nerve's getting pinched somewhere, but it can be tricky figuring out where -- could be carpal tunnel, could be at the elbow, could be thoracic outlet.

Take a rest from the fingerboarding, as everyone's already advised; if it doesn't recover rapidly, maybe Google around for info and the DIY physio exercises for carpal tunnel, thoracic outlet syndrome etc., see if you can find an "obvious suspect" point where a nerve might be getting compressed and if the exercises will help relieve it.

For example, the hunched/rounded-shoulder posture that a lot of climbers end up with can contribute to stuff getting compressed in the thoracic outlet, so if your shoulders tend to be dodgy, I'd try addressing that.
Alun - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

> it's just I cant do anything else when I'm stuck offshore except bring a portable fingerboard with me.

I see what you mean. Maybe you could try doing non-finger exercises when you're offshore: pullups, leg raises, stretching, core work etc. All of this will help your climbing without stressing your fingers.

> I didn't realize I was over doing it, I thought I was following a beginner strategy haha.

You were. The thing is that I don't think that fingerboards are really suitable (or necessary) for climbing in the lower grades, despite what people like Horst say. I've often tried to use them in the past and usually ended up damaging my fingers/elbows/shoulders.

(On the hand, I have started using one again this summer using a regime that I think would minimize my chances of injury, and it is definitely working, in that I am noticably stronger, and not injured. So they do work, but you have to really know your body, know what works and what doesn't, and know to read the warning signs).
beefy_legacy on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

Loads of good advice on this thread, I would only add one thing. I also started fingerboard training too early and hurt myself and ended up sacking it off for a couple of years. On thing I didn't appreciate is the importance of doing antagonist exercises. So if you do go back to it after a break I would definitely suggest getting serious about training the antagonist muscles, Horst's books have loads of exercises.

I didn't realise until recently that finger injuries could come from weak antagonist muscles further up the arm. I think it was mentioned in a recent training beta podcast with a physio.

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