Biomechanical properties of the crimp grip position in rock climbers

J Biomech. 2001 Feb;34(2):217-23. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9290(00)00184-6.


Rock climbers are often using the unique crimp grip position to hold small ledges. Thereby the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints are flexed about 90 degrees and the distal interphalangeal joints are hyperextended maximally. During this position of the finger joints bowstringing of the flexor tendon is applying very high load to the flexor tendon pulleys and can cause injuries and overuse syndromes. The objective of this study was to investigate bowstringing and forces during crimp grip position. Two devices were built to measure the force and the distance of bowstringing and one device to measure forces at the fingertip. All measurements of 16 fingers of four subjects were made in vivo. The largest amount of bowstringing was caused by the flexor digitorum profundus tendon in the crimp grip position being less using slope grip position (PIP joint extended). During a warm-up, the distance of bowstringing over the distal edge of the A2 pulley increased by 0.6mm (30%) and was loaded about 3 times the force applied at the fingertip during crimp grip position. Load up to 116N was measured over the A2 pulley. Increase of force in one finger holds by the quadriga effect was shown using crimp and slope grip position.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Finger Injuries / etiology
  • Finger Joint / physiology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Tendons / physiology