18 February 2010
A lot of climbers get in touch asking about using Lewis reaction icing on other injuries besides finger pullies. The goal of the treatment is to increase blood flow, which if done well it seems to do very effectively. I’ve written recently about using it on elbows with the aid of a nearby bathroom wash basin. But what about tendon strains?
It seems nearly all tendon strains in climbers happen in the ring finger when using an openhanded three or two finger pocket grip with the little finger not used. The pain is a highly unpleasant twang that runs variously through the finger, palm and forearm right back to the flexor muscle belly. Can you assist healing this whole structure with Lewis reaction icing? The short answer is I don’t know. I’ve not seen reports from other climbers of it’s successful use. The last time I had a flexor unit strain myself was about 9 years ago and I was doing Lewis icing on the same hand at the time for a separate pulley injury. I couldn’t really say how much the icing helped. Possibly not that much, evidenced by lack of responsiveness of the pain level to adhering or skipping the treatment and the fact that the pulley had healed in around three months and the flexor unit strain took over a year to heal.
The tendon seemed to respond more to frequent stretching and long gentle warm-ups. And it didn’t slow my climbing down to much by strict adherence to using four fingers only on holds, either crimping, or with four finger openhanded grip. I’m researching this in detail right now for my book and will hopefully have more on this soon.