The skin of the hands is surely the most differentiating element of the climbers. A thick and resistant, yet flexible skin. It must be able to adapt to the weather, the rock and the daily tasks of the day.
Despite its importance and accessibility, it is still a misunderstood organ. In fact, new studies on the function of the fascia, which is directly related to the skin, are constantly appearing.
If there is one thing I have learned over time, it is that there are several types of skin. In addition, genetics, nutrition and environment also play a role. This is why it is such a personal topic, where every master has his or her own booklet.
There are four types of skin.
Skin varies greatly from person to person. Generally speaking, four types of skin are considered:
- Normal”, eudermic or balanced skin.
- Dry skin. It produces less sebum than the previous one. This lack of moisture reduces its protective character against external threats. In addition, it will be harder to recover from your climbs, with a greater tendency to crack easily.
- Oily skin. Unlike the previous one, this skin stands out for its seborrhea or excessive sebum production. In climbers, this type of skin will make them excessively dependent on magnesium as their palms are constantly sweaty. In addition, they will also tend to lose layers of skin easily.
- Mixed skin. This is the type of skin in which there are different types of skin, depending on the area of the body.
When buying a gel or cosmetic, they always focus on one type of skin or another.
Nutrition, Environment and Hydration
Climbing in humidity is the worst thing for the skin.
Nutrition also has a big influence. A nutritionally dense diet will help your skin organ function properly, recovering better between training sessions and climbing. You are what you eat, and your body will create new cells with what you feed it.
The environment in which your climbing takes place will also be decisive. Humidity is the worst thing for climbing. The layers of skin fly. Although if you are in your first steps on the vertical, you will probably not even notice it. Advanced climbers attach a lot of importance to this factor.
A light breeze, in the right direction, can make the difference between a perfect day’s climbing and another full of climbers hanging from their ropes, and complaining about the feel.
We are 70% water. A correct hydration should not be missing. Since you’ll be so badly treated by trying that dynamic over and over again, at least give it water, my friend.
Starting to climb. Creating street
Skin care will help you minimize the damage.
When you start climbing, the strength of your forearms is the most important factor in your progress. But after a short time, another one appears that is even more painful than a “sagging” forearm: the pain of the skin on your hands.
That burning sensation, with the palms of your hands red-hot. You wonder when they’ll invent climbing gloves. Well, those gloves exist, but they don’t sell. These gloves are made of layers of skin, and there is only one way to get them. Frequency and consistency.
You will see how, after a few weeks, you are able to endure long training sessions and days of rock climbing. However, this does not exempt you from suffering certain acute illnesses or skin injuries, more or less deep. But taking care of your skin will help you to minimise that damage.
With time you will realize what you can save with the correct technical execution of your moves. Not only on an energetic level, but also on the skin of your hands.
Greater control of your movements will give you greater precision. By having to position your hands in the best possible way, you will be able to rub your skin against the surface. By constantly repeating this, you will lose layers.
Sometimes you will want to run through each prey, going quickly to the next one. Train this type of climbing in the climbing wall and you will gain a lot of fluidity. At other times you will try to hold on to the prey by applying as little force as possible. If you repeat it too much, you will end up losing your skin.
Your skin adapts to the rock and the stimuli
If you stop climbing for a couple of weeks, you’ll be amazed at how those hard-earned layers of skin start to fall off.
Once you get good skin on your hands, calloused but tough, don’t think that it’s forever. Everything in your body is constantly changing. The same goes for the skin on your hands and its soft structures. If you stop climbing for a couple of weeks, you’ll be amazed at how those hard-won layers of skin start to fall off.
Your skin will also adapt to the type of rock and climbing style you practice most. It will respond differently to the type of grip, grain and texture of the rock. If you are a sandstone climber, your skin will be softer and more sensitive. However, to support granite you will need a much harder skin.
The skin of the hands
If your skin doesn’t hold up, you won’t be able to climb what you’d like.
When I went to Patxi Usobiaga’s workshop, one of the things that struck me most was the importance he gave to skin. Certainly, you can spend 3 months training for a climbing trip that, if your skin does not resist, you will not be able to climb what you would like. On many occasions you will be forced to rest, even if you feel in good shape, to recover skin from your hands or because you have made a wound.
So whatever your skin can hold will be beyond what your muscles are capable of withstanding. That is, if you lack physical strength you can climb, even if you do not chain yourself. If your skin hurts, the very idea of climbing will cause you pain.
Also, if you are in constant pain you will not be able to get into the flow. You will miss the magic of climbing.