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Help Protect Your Fingers With This Daily Six-Minute Workout

Renowned climbing coach Eric Hörst's quick and simple protocol is great for finger recovery and injury prevention

The tendons and ligaments of our fingers don’t get a lot of bloodflow. Instead, these structures get their nourishment from the synovial fluid that surrounds them, primarily during finger loading. We therefore can’t just sit back and wait for our bloodstream to deliver essential building blocks directly to these structures in order to recover after a hard session of training or climbing. We need to stress our fingers—gently—in order for tendons and ligaments to get the nutrients they need to repair and strengthen.

Acclaimed climbing coach and author Eric Hörst has built a short and easy training routine to take advantage of this biology. The aim of this protocol is to improve the health of the finger flexor and extensor tendons and the ligament pullies. It can be done daily, in addition to the regular training and climbing sessions you complete. Here’s the protocol:

(1) Dumbbell finger rolls – 30 seconds. Using a moderate weight, grip the dumbbell tightly and then slowly open your hand, letting the dumbbell roll to the tip of your fingers. Gradually reclose your fingers, bringing your hand back to a tight grip around the dumbbell. Repeat over and over again for 30 seconds. This exercise should not be very fatiguing. You should be nowhere near failure.

If you don’t have a suitable dumbbell, you could also use a grip device such as the Black Diamond Forearm Trainer rubber ring or Metolius GripSaver Plus stress ball.

(2) Finger extensions – 30 seconds. Perform continuous repetitions of finger extensions for half a minute. Aim for a speed that completes 30 repetitions over the 30-second period. You can use many different devices for this exercise including a PowerFingers ring, Lattice Training Extensor Band, Metolius GripSaver Plus, a cheap thick rubber band, or a rice bucket.

(3) Repeaters – 1 minute. Do a series of repeaters on jugs, large edges, or good slopers on your hangboard. The repeaters should be performed 10 seconds on, five seconds off. Do four reps to cover the one-minute period. You should not get pumped and you should only feel very mild fatigue. If using an edge, use an open hand or half crimp position.

After completing these three exercises, perform the whole routine again two more times. No rest time is required between exercises or sets. The whole workout therefore only takes six minutes to complete. For a video demonstration of these three exercises, check out Hörst’s video below: