I’ve been asked a couple of times in the gym why I tape my fingers. The simple answer is that I have sprained a single finger on both hands previously. Each time was a freak accident linked to being tired and having my grip broken (either in Judo or BJJ training. Each time they really hurt and were sore for quite a while. They also left with slightly deformed fingers. Since it happened I’ve taped both of them to protect them from further injury. So with this in mind, I thought it was time to share my thoughts on hand care.
How to Tape Your Fingers
There are various ways to tape your fingers but these are three most common ways:-
- Single joint control – This is the simplest way of taping your finger joints. Quite simply you put a ring of tape on either side of the joint. Now, the tape needs to be tight, but it shouldn’t affect your blood flow to your fingers. The aim is to support the joint but also to prevent you over gripping and fatiguing your grips.
- X Taping – X taping is a strong way of supporting your finger joints. X taping is more durable than single joint control and less likely to fall off. It’s normally done with one long piece of tape. Starting on one side of the knuckle, wrap around a couple of times, then take the tape to the other side of the knuckle. This is done by crossing over the joint on the underside (palm side) of the finger. Then, circle the finger again a few times, before crossing back over the joint, to the original starting side. Basically making a cross. It’s the most common type of taping I use along with –
- Buddy Taping – taping two side-by-side fingers together. For this, you would do the same type of taping on both fingers, as for the joint control. Then simply tape two fingers together over the existing tape. This can be useful if you keep catching your fingers in your or partner’s kimono or if you’ve had a minor finger sprain.
But if you’ve found this all a little confusing and need something more visual I’ll leave you in the hands of a grappler who’s used a lot of tape in his career – Kurt Osiander’s
What tape do I use?
For a long while tape was quite difficult to get hold of in the UK. You were left ordering over the internet or going to specialist rock climbing shops. I used to always stock up whilst on holiday in the states where it was available in most sports stores. But things are changing with a range being available on the market.
- Mueller Tape – is one of my personal favorites for training and its available in a range of colors! I just score the roll to the thicknesses that I want, so one roll does last me for ages.
- Rainha Fightwear – A comp essential as its pre-cut thicknesses and pretty. I used it out in the states last year and no matter how sweaty I got it never moved!
- Monkey Tape – I’ve not tried this but my husband loves it as it sticks to him where some of the tapes I’ve used seem just not to like his skin.
- Tatami – I haven’t tried this yet but Tatami also provides a pre-cut version
- Let’s Roll – Another new service that I haven’t tried yet but it’s a monthly tape subscription to your door!
Grip Training and Finger Stretching – Now I’ll be honest I don’t do anything specific in terms of my grip strength or finger stretching. I find that a mixture of BJJ and Judo training combined with my weights program seems to cover most things. My hubby does like using grip trainers and fat grips as part of his weight program to help though and did a review of them a while ago.
Rehabilitation – Nobody likes doing rehab as let’s be honest it’s not the most fun thing on the planet and because it means admitting you’ve injured yourself! Combined with the fact that fingers are easyish to ignore then it’s very easy to neglect finger exercises. Rosi Sexton is well known within MMA and the UK grappling scene as an athlete but she’s also an Osteopath and has fixed me a couple of times! So here is a little video on finger exercises that you might find useful if you have sore digits.
Hand Balm – Using hand balm not only will help to heal the skin but also give your hands and fingers a mini massage which helps circulation. I use Badger Balm as my hand balm of choice. It’s organic and smells of wintergreen which if I’m honest reminds me slightly of a much more subtle Thai oil! But I also have a cheap generic supermarket hand cream in my desk at work for when I come into the office straight from lifting sessions in case my hands need a little bit of love!
Fish Oil Supplements
I may blog at a later date re the supplements I use but Fish Oil is one of them. Although it’s not about the amount of fish oil but the amount of EPA and DHA. There is a mixture of research re the optimal amount of EPA and DHA ranging from a minimum of 250mg through to 6g for muscle soreness. The more you have in your diet the less you need to supplement. I don’t eat any fish so I take around 1000mg of fish oil with around 300mg of EPA/DHA. You won’t notice a drastic improvement in your fingers and joints but I’ve found that when I stop taking it aching fingers are one of the first things to return! So there might be something in it!
Hope you’ve found my tips useful but feel free to share anything you sure to look after those all important hands and fingers!
Cover Picture Credit – Liam Wandi (but it does feature my hand!)