The Best Ways to Tape Your Hands for Climbing


No amount of tape is going to make up for strong, con­di­tioned mus­cles in your hands, but it can aid in recov­er­ing from or avoid­ing seri­ous injuries. There are a few dif­fer­ent ways to tape to pro­tect your fin­gers and wrist, so we thought we’d help you by lay­ing them out for you.

Pro­tect Your Fin­ger Pulleys
Your fin­ger pulleys—the lit­tle ten­dons in your fin­ger that work to pre­vent sheath col­lapse and expan­sion dur­ing motion—are the most sus­cep­ti­ble parts of your hands when climb­ing. Improp­er care of them is one of the main sources of injury so it’s impor­tant to tape them the right way.

Start your tape—only use one strand for this—around the first pha­lanx on your hand and wrap around three, maybe four times. The first pha­lanx is the one that con­nects with your hand between the first and sec­ond crease. You want the tape to be tight, but com­fort­able. Pro­ceed to cross the tape over the joint and wrap it around the sec­ond pha­lanx three times. Bring the tape back down to cross over the joint again, form­ing an X pat­tern, and wrap it back around the low­er pha­lanx to fin­ish it off.

Be care­ful not to pinch any nerves. You can use this tap­ing method on any of your fin­gers and it helps immense­ly when stick­ing your fin­gers into cracks, hand jams and tricky holds that might cause your fin­gers to bend in awk­ward positions.

The Tape Glove
A tape glove will help you avoid scratch­es and painful cuts on the back of your hands and between your fin­gers. Those things hurt like hell.

Begin­ning at your knuck­les, place three to four strips of tape across the back of your hand. Fol­low that up by bring­ing a strip of tape from the top of your wrist up and around the base of your index fin­ger tight enough for it to stay in place but not so tight it restricts move­ment. From here, you have two choic­es. Some peo­ple to repeat this process through the next two fin­gers or only include the pinky. For com­fort and flexibility’s sake, let’s skip to the pinky.

Bring the tape up from your wrist again and wrap it around the base of the pinky, cov­er­ing the space between the two fin­gers, and bring it back down to the top of the wrist. Wrap the tape around your wrist at least four times. If done prop­er­ly you’ll have cov­ered the back of your hand with­out gaps.

The Recov­ery Tape
If you’ve reached the point of no return and already jacked up your fin­ger joint you’ll need to effec­tive­ly block the A2 and A3 annu­lar pul­leys from bend­ing and tear­ing any fur­ther. You’ll still be able to climb, but crimp­ing is out of the ques­tion. Focus on prac­tic­ing your open hand skills until your fin­gers recover.

To pre­vent your pul­leys from fac­ing immi­nent destruc­tion, begin tap­ing your fin­ger halfway up the first pha­lanx. Do a few laps around until you’ve cov­ered the mid­dle joint of your fin­ger up halfway between the sec­ond and third joint. You’ll want to have over­lapped each round of tape by at least 50 per­cent. The goal here is to keep your fin­ger from bend­ing. If you can still hook it, you screwed up and the tape is too loose.

Pro­tect­ing the Flapper
We don’t whole-heart­ed­ly endorse this one since it involves putting an object between your palm and the rock, but some peo­ple are prob­a­bly fed up with flap­pers and are will­ing to give up a lit­tle grip to spare them­selves some pain. We don’t know any of these peo­ple, but they prob­a­bly exist.

If you find your­self with a flap­per and want to keep climb­ing, it’s time to go for the super glue. You should always pack some super glue. With­out rip­ping the loose skin off your hand cov­er the flap­per with the glue in a thick lay­er. Tear­ing the skin off with just make it take longer to heal.

Once the glue dries throw some tape over­top that suck­er and get back on the wall. It should only take a cou­ple of over­lap­ping strips to cov­er the flap­per. You might even try putting the tape on before the glue dries for the extra adhe­sion if you’re afraid of the tape com­ing off, but it shouldn’t be necessary.

FYI the super glue will flake off over time, so leave it on and let the flap­per heal on its own.

Wrap­ping Your Wrist
If some­one told you that you could pre­vent wrist injuries by tap­ing up, they lied to you. If you man­aged to twist it in a fun­ny direc­tion while climb­ing, how­ev­er, there are some ways to tape it to help you recover.

One of the most effec­tive meth­ods is the dor­sal cross. Begin by plac­ing a strip of tape around your palm, going up over the thumb and back around a cou­ple of times to cov­er your hand. Place anoth­er strip of tape begin­ning on your fore­arm just below the wrist and bring­ing it around and up to cov­er your wrist.

With your wrist bent slight­ly back­wards, begin a third lay­er of tape on the right-hand side of the tape you pre­vi­ous­ly start­ed below your wrist at the back of your hand. Bring that tape up and across the back of your hand, over the top of your thumb and back down over your palm to bring it full cir­cle. Repeat this process on the oth­er side, effec­tive­ly form­ing a cross over­top the back of your hand and wrist.

Con­sid­er wrap­ping anoth­er lay­er of tape around your wrist again to help keep the rest of the tape in place, and you’re set.

Keep in mind that there’s no con­clu­sive med­ical evi­dence sup­port­ing the idea that tape will help pre­vent injury dur­ing climb­ing. It can, how­ev­er, help alle­vi­ate the pain to already injured hands and keep you from sus­tain­ing some gnarly gashes.