Finger / hand pain

16 years 8 months ago #845 by Birchy
Finger / hand pain was created by Birchy
Hi guys,

Has anyone come across this injury, or can you offer any insight?

I have quite bad pain in my ring finger and middle finger of both hands, extending into each hand. No problems with other fingers/thumbs/wrists/elbows etc. I believe it's tendonitis, and there is slight swelling (especially after paddling!).

I'm pretty sure it's an overuse injury from paddling about 5x 1 hour per week with too tight a grip for over a year. I've had a long rest (9 months!), then loosened my grip and reduced paddling to 2x 1 hour per week, but the injury just won't clear up. It is manageable with stretching and icing as long as I don't increase training (which obviously I want to). Local physios haven't been able to help much, and my paddling coach thinks my technique now looks good. I'm riding a spec ski with an epic wing paddle (oval shaft).

Any ideas?

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16 years 8 months ago #846 by tombeej
Replied by tombeej on topic Re: Finger / hand pain
In my first year of competitive paddling (i.e. when I actually started regular training for events) I found myself in the same situation.

What I realised was that in the pull stroke I was somehow pulling more with my middle finger instead of all the fingers together. In other words all the pressure of the pull was being taken up by 1 or 2 fingers at the most. It was tendonitis, as you say, and it became incredibly painful.

Eventually the way I cured it was to duct-tape my four fingers together, i.e. splint them together with 2 thin strips of duct tape so that my fingers could still bend round the paddle shaft. This immediately reduced the pain, and over time it trained my hand to pull with even pressure across all the fingers.

I haven't had a recurrence in 4 years.

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16 years 8 months ago #847 by pjjacob
Replied by pjjacob on topic Re: Finger / hand pain
Yep, I had the same problem off and on for a couple of years and lost almost a whole season of racing from it. I tried every goofball remedy I could think of to relieve the pain, from straps around the paddle shaft and my wrist to ease the load on my fingers, to all kinds of taping schemes. I must say I learned a lot about hand and finger anatomy trying to find a way to relieve the pain. What we were dealing with was a mild form of a climbers injury where the pulley tendons of the fingers get inflamed and very painful. I can relate to how much it hurts!

What I finally discovered was the cause was I had wrapped tennis racquet handle tape around my paddle shaft for a cushion and to be able to grip the paddle more easily. The tape worked so well and was so grippy that I could pull on the paddle using only the ends of my middle and ring fingers. Like Tom said, this put all the stress of my pull on the tendons of those two fingers only. One day in desperation I decided to take everything off my paddle to force me to wrap my whole hand around the shaft and spread the load evenly across all my fingers to see what would happen. Within a couple of weeks, almost all the pain was gone and I've never had any problems like that since. It was as simple as that.

So... you need to find a way to consistently make yourself use your whole hand when pulling and still not put a death grip on the shaft, especially on the top of your stroke during the push phase. Taping your fingers together might be a good strategy. Putting in time on flat water might help to loosen up your grip too. Good luck!

BTW, I still have a couple of rolls of new tennis racquet grip tape in case anyone wants some...

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15 years 11 months ago #848 by Birchy
Replied by Birchy on topic Re: Finger / hand pain
hi guys, thanks for the advice. It's definitely helped, and I think i'm finally getting on top of it by stopping all hard paddling for a while. No more ocean paddling, no more paddling with friends, and no more racing. I've switched to long slow river work where i can continually work on my technique and a relaxed grip using all fingers. I also open out the hands regularly on the recovery part of the stroke. As a side benefit, I'm no longer developing blisters on my hands :)

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