Climbing Injury Prevention – Pulley Injury

Pulley Sprain Rehabilitation Program ClimbingCause

The muscles in our forearms extend into long narrow tendons as they reach into the fingers. These tendons run through sheaths and are anchored down by pulleys that keep the tendons gliding flush to the bones. There are five annular pulleys that sling around the bone and four cruciform pulleys that form a cross over the bone to secure the tendon. When excessive strain is placed on the finger tendons, the pressure exerts an outward force on the pulley which may strain or tear it. You should be aware of dangerous movements that can increase the stress on the carpal tunnel and eventually lead to pain and injury. These movements include dynamic moves to and from small edges, pulling too much with your fingers on small holds and the repetitive use of full or closed crimps.


A. Place a rubber-band around the tips of your fingers while maintaining a straight wrist.
B. Spread your fingers apart without bending your wrist.

Finger Strengthening for Climbing A

Finger Strengthening for Climbing B

Alternate Method

A: Start with a rubber-band around your thumb

Rubber-band wrap A

B. Rotate on half turn clockwise and hook over your index finger

Rubber-band wrap B

C. Rotate one half turn counter clockwise and hook over your middle finger

Rubber-band wrap C

D. Repeat this pattern until all fingers are connected

Rubber-band wrap D

What It Does

This exercise strengthens the muscles in the fingers that help support and equalize the pressure on the pulleys. Perform isometric holds at varied angles to mirror the muscle actions of the fingers while climbing.


3 sets of 15 repetitions with a 5-second isometric hold once per day.

Learn More About Rock Climbing Injuries

Looking for more information on rehabilitating climbing injuries? Check out the the self-help pulley injury protocol.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!