Comprehensive Guide to 7 Different Climbing Finger Grips and Injury Prevention

Comprehensive Guide to 7 Finger Grips and Injury Prevention

Rock climbing might be daunting for beginners who might not know the techniques. Beginners would often use grips that are strong, natural or easy for them to ascend the wall. 

Lady Climbing A Mountain

Climbing is not only pure strength but incorporating different techniques to climb more efficiently. 

There are several rock faces shapes that include; flat, rounded, cracks, pockets, protruding, slopers, edges, jugs and underclings. Some grips that are preferred to others at different times. Do always take care to protect your palms and fingers from some of these sharp edges of rock or cracks. One simple way is to wear long sleeve in general or also invest in a pair of crack climbing gloves.

The inability to grip the rock steadily would prevent you from progressing to be a better climber. Below are the 7 types of grip that will help you to advance to the next level and improve on climbing efficiency. 

1. Crimping

Crimping is a hold which is an area just big enough to be grasped with the tips of the fingers. There are 3 types of crimping that are commonly used.

Crimping to improve your climb

a. Open Crimp

Open hand grips are when your hold on a feature and your finger 1st section, closest to the palm (phalange) is kept straight in a relaxed manner. This is a more relaxed position for your finger joints by keeping it straight. 

Open Crimp
Open Crimp

This hold is the most relaxed on the joints and might not be the most secure grip for you. 

Open hand grips are commonly used when fingers would have more contact over a surface area in Slope edges or jug formations.

b. Closed Crimp Grip

Closed grips are similar to an open grip but it would be more tension on holding on to the wall feature. The fingers would be pulling towards the base of the palm to retain a tighter grip on the wall or feature. 

Closed Grip crimp
Closed Crimp

This grip is more secure as compared to the open crimp. There is slightly more stress on the finger joints on this grip.

Closed hand grips are commonly used on smaller surface areas where an open grip is not able to provide good control or balance point to pivot. Closed grips dig your fingers into the wall feature and contours more tightly for a hold and even being able to hang from it.

c. Full Crimp Grip 

Full crimp is when you place your thumb over your index finger. The thumb acts as a lock and an additional contact point to let you increase the pull power. 

Full Crimp Grip
Full Crimp

Full crimp is the most secure among the 3 crimps. As the thumb creates more pressure to the index joint, this creates more tension on that fingers, thus either use it sparingly or have more conditional train to prevent injury.

Full crimp grips are used on tiny cuts, incisions or ledges on the wall. 

2. Pinch Grip

Pinch grips could be used in an open or closed grip. The thumb is used to pinch the other side of the hold. Crimps can also be used when the feature is too large or uncomfortable for you to pinch.

Pinch grips are used at the ribs of a rock, when travesting side ways using side pulls.

Types of holds

3. Pocket Grip

Pocket grip uses either one or more fingers, to be placed inside the pocket hole. Our middle finger is the strongest. I would advise you to either use the middle finger and either the index or ring finger or all 3 if possible for the pocket hole. 

Pocket grips are used when there is a small pocket hole in the wall. Using either 1-3 fingers to cling into the hole as a contact point.

4. Fist lock or hand jams

How to Fist Jam

Put your hand into the crack and secure the hold by jamming or making a fist to stabilise. You would have not have any movement after wedging your hand in the opposite surface of the crack as both sides of the hand creates fiction with the wall. 

Scenarios of when to utilise, when there is a crack in the wall. You could utilise the same crack by sticking your feet inside for a secure step up.

Fist lock is one of the easiest one you would use for some routes that the grip might be awkward to hold. You would simply make your hand into a fist and jam your fist into the crack.  

5. Palming (Push on the surface) 

Palming is a good method to rest your fingers and utilise the palm area (Larger surface area of the hand) to stabilize and push yourself up. 

Push Up Grip 1

It is executed on a flat surface, imagine that is similar to a step up but with your hands. 


PRO Tip: Experience climbers would use the same rock feature to transition a handhold to a foothold using the palming method. 

When I started climbing, my forearm muscles were not developed. Relying on most secure holds like the full crimp to stabilise control & stabilisation that potentially led to injury as I would often feel my fingers carrying my body weight of 154 pounds.

Besides mastering different types of finger grips, you could read more about how to strengthen your finger grip with grip strengtheners or master other basic climbing techniques.

Preventing Injuries to Fingers and more

2 simple advice is to pace yourself in training and stretching to avoid climbing injuries as this could save you the pain of getting the 3 most common injuries for beginners (Finger, Elbow & shoulder). 

Progressive training

Beginners should create a training routine to progressively improve on their acclimatize to your hands and feet. Besides training in the gyms to strengthen your finger grip.

progressive training warm up

I would recommend that you focus on the load on your joints by practising on hangboards. Start off with a portion of your normal body weight, progress into full body weight and then subsquently added weight.

You will definitely see yourself getting stronger and toner without injuring yourself.


Stretching your joints & muscles prior, in between & post climbing would go a long way to help reducing tears, cramps, break or numbness. Getting your muscles stretched before the climb will not only improve in performance but also prevents injury. 

Stretching before and after rock climbing

Climbers usually use stretch bands to do that, to stretch out the back, shoulder, forearm and even chest muscles before starting a climb.

Cool down stretching will also assist in the recovery of fatigue joint & muscle ache.  Pick up some additional climbing workout moves to compliment it.


So I hope that you are one step closer to mastering the different climbing finger grips and techniques professional and beginner rock climbers use to improve their technique. Always be careful and practice injury prevention. The fun is the journey and the climb to the top. Stay safe climbing!!!

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