What do you get when you take time off from climbing on rocks or plastic? If you move too quickly, a nice flapper. What is a flapper? It is when a portion of your skin just seems to tear off while gripping a hold when it is lacking skin toughness.
I am in the danger zone for getting a flapper as I will begin my training for the fall without proper skin conditioning. I have not been climbing in about 3 weeks (and I have been in a pool for most of those days) other than about 4 routes worth. So patience is key when coming back to climbing without your normal skin toughness.
My nephew, who just visited for a week took time off from his normal 4 hour gymnastic training days only to begin again and during the first session back tore open his palms and fingers due to soft skin. Also, if you spend time doing deep or my preference shallow water bouldering you are at a great risk for tearing large and inconvenient flappers.
Photo from climberharry.BlogSpot.com
So what is the solution? Here are a few things to remember:
- Don’t push hard to get back into your “normal” climbing routing. As badly as you may want to just cut back the volume and relax.
- Climb on a great variety of hold shapes and sizes. This will not overwork easily torn areas.
- No laps on boulders or routes. This will quickly tear your precious skin apart.
- Use wooden holds if your gym has them. These are the BEST for training on anyway and do the least damage.
- Climb a few grades under your ability so that you are not putting undo stress on your skin.
- Stay off the steep stuff even if you are climbing on large holds. These are typically the ones that do the most damage.
- Try to use less or no chalk at the beginning because creating an extremely dry hand environment just speeds up the likelihood of a flapper.
- Taping only prevents you from rebuilding your strong callused skin; so don’t.
- Stay away from hard finger cracks. I got worked by trying a hard finger crack without having skin toughness and it was painful and ugly!
So be patient and don’t rush back. I am wanting to train today but must wait due to not having time for a setback.
Get outside and have an adventure!
piz : )