Effect of hold depth and grip technique on maximal finger forces in rock climbing

J Sports Sci. 2012;30(7):669-77. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2012.658845. Epub 2012 Feb 17.


The aim of this study was to understand how the commonly used climbing-specific grip techniques and hold depths influence the finger force capacities. Ten advanced climbers performed maximal voluntary force on four different hold depths (from 1 to 4 cm) and in two force directions (antero-posterior and vertical) using three grip techniques (slope, half crimp and full crimp). A specially designed platform instrumented with a 6-degrees-of-freedom (DoF) force/torque sensor was used to record force values. Results showed that the maximal vertical forces differed significantly according to the hold depth and the grip technique (ranged from 350.8 N to 575.7 N). The maximal vertical forces increased according to the hold depth but the form of this increase differed depending on grip technique. These results seemed to be more associated with finger-hold contact/interaction than with internal biomechanical factors. Similar results were revealed for antero-posterior forces (ranged from 69.9 N to 138.0 N) but, it was additionally noted that climbers have different hand-forearm posture strategies with slope and crimp grip techniques when applying antero-posterior forces. This point is important as it could influence the body position adopted during climbing according to the chosen grip technique. For trainers and designers, a polynomial regression model was proposed in order to predict the mean maximal force based on hold depth and adopted grip technique.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Fingers / physiology*
  • Forearm
  • Hand
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Posture*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Young Adult