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For climbers, it's important to train the antagonist muscles to our primary movers, to prevent injury. For the fingers, these are the extensors (as you're always flexing your fingers when gripping holds). How can I best train them?

Finger flexion / extension

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2 Answers 2

The power web is a popular physiotherapy tool. You put your fingers through the holes and then just spread them out. Difficulty varies depending on the strength of the material (color-coded) and finger spacing.

Regarding training extensors to balance flexion, this article suggests that it is wrist extension that is a more important focus rather than finger extension in a non-rehabilitation setting. I don't know of any evidence that suggests that training finger extension reduces the rate of injury in climbers.

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Can you give me the exact quote from that article? I can't seem to find anything stating one way or the other. I'll also try to find something on it (you're right, I wasn't basing this question on any paper). –  VPeric Dec 4 '13 at 10:20
    
Here's the quote, in the context of discussing tennis elbow: "Overuse of the less well-trained extensor muscles in climbing results because optimal power of the flexors is obtained only when the wrist is extended." That's the only discussion of under-trained upper arm extensors in the article. They devote an entire section to pathology of the hand and fingers but don't mention anything about training finger extension for injury prevention. –  Kate Dec 4 '13 at 18:34
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A cheap and effective way is to put your hand in a bucket full of rice while making a fist. Once you have done that, open your hand. The deeper you put your hand in the bucket, the harder it will be.

Alternatively, Metolius makes the Grip Saver which is a much more portable method and allows you to work both flexion and extension. This is what I use.

There is also the Gyro Exerciser. I'm not sure how well it works the extensors, but they say it does. I've only briefly used one of these, but I can tell you this, it does feel like it's working everything in your hand and arm.

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