Sunday, March 4, 2012

H-Tape for Injured Finger Pulleys

I came across an article entitled "Impact of Taping After Finger Flexor Tendon Pulley Ruptures in Rock Climbers" a couple of months ago and decided to write up a review. The article proposes a new taping method for torn pulleys called the H-Tape and compares it to the Ring and Figure-8 methods. The authors' goal was to "evaluate whether this new taping method [could] effectively change the course of the flexor tend and therefore reduce the tendon-bone distance." Through their study they found that "[t]he new taping method decreased the tendon-bone distance in the injured finger significantly by 16%" resulting in a closer imitation of a real pulley ligament during a crimping position.

The article states "[t]he method for the application of the H-tape is as follows: A tape of length of 10cm and a width of 1.5 cm is cut in half longitudinally from both ends, leaving a bridge of 1 cm standing in the middle. After adjusting the proximal straps at the distal end of the proximal phalanx, the PIP joint is flexed and the remaining two distal straps are wrapped tightly around the proximal part of the middle phalanx."

These instructions aren't very clear unless you have taken anatomy or a medical terminology class, so here are my instructions:

The article calls for 1.5 cm wide tape, which isn't a standard size of tape, so 1" or 1.5 " (split in half) can be used.  

 Unless you plan on having a ruler with you every time you tape take the time to find a reference for 10 cm on your body. The tip of my thumb down to my palm is about 10 cm.

Isolate the injured finger as much as possible to help with tape application.

Lay the piece of tape across your finger, so your finger divides the tape 1/4 and 3/4.

Cut the tape towards your finger.

Starting with the pieces closest to your body, wrap the tape around your finger.

Slightly flex the injured finger.
Wrap the rest of the tape around your finger.

**If you squeeze the end of your finger and it doesn't fill back up with blood the tape is too tight and you will need to redo the tape job**

The authors mentioned that they "did not test the effect of a prolonged use of the tape as would occur during climbing a route or a larger boulder. Although tape is made of a rather stiff material, it will nevertheless stretch during a prolonged use and thus have less effect than what [they] measured immediately after having applied the tape. [They] therefore recommend renewing the tape after every route in order to have an optimal support of pulley system during the climb."  

I haven't suffered any finger injuries lately, so I haven't used the H-Tape for a prolonged duration. If you try out this tape method please leave a comment so we can all learn how well and for how long the H-tape works.

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