Estimation of finger muscle tendon tensions and pulley forces during specific sport-climbing grip techniques

J Biomech. 2006;39(14):2583-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2005.08.027. Epub 2005 Oct 12.


The present work displayed the first quantitative data of forces acting on tendons and pulleys during specific sport-climbing grip techniques. A three-dimensional static biomechanical model was used to estimate finger muscle tendon and pulley forces during the "slope" and the "crimp" grip. In the slope grip the finger joints are flexed, and in the crimp grip the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint is hyperextended while the other joints are flexed. The tendons of the flexor digitorum profundus and superficialis (FDP and FDS), the extensor digitorum communis (EDC), the ulnar and radial interosseus (UI and RI), the lumbrical muscle (LU) and two annular pulleys (A2 and A4) were considered in the model. For the crimp grip in equilibrium conditions, a passive moment for the DIP joint was taken into account in the biomechanical model. This moment was quantified by relating the FDP intramuscular electromyogram (EMG) to the DIP joint external moment. Its intensity was estimated at a quarter of the external moment. The involvement of this parameter in the moment equilibrium equation for the DIP joint is thus essential. The FDP-to-FDS tendon-force ratio was 1.75:1 in the crimp grip and 0.88:1 in the slope grip. This result showed that the FDP was the prime finger flexor in the crimp grip, whereas the tendon tensions were equally distributed between the FDP and FDS tendons in the slope grip. The forces acting on the pulleys were 36 times lower for A2 in the slope grip than in the crimp grip, while the forces acting on A4 were 4 times lower. This current work provides both an experimental procedure and a biomechanical model that allows estimation of tendon tensions and pulley forces crucial for the knowledge about finger injuries in sport climbing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Fingers / physiology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Mountaineering / physiology*
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle Tonus / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Tendons / physiology*