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The Raleigh Rock Climbing Meetup Message Board › Parkour, Rock Climbing, and Hanging from Walls

Parkour, Rock Climbing, and Hanging from Walls

A former member
Post #: 1
Warning! Huge post with huge pictures ahead!
I'll start off by introducing myself and what I do. I'm Daniel, and I have a passion for parkour. Parkour is the art of moving through one's environment, quickly and efficiently. A traceur (a practitioner of parkour) uses various techniques and maneuvers to overcome obstacles in the urban environment, like rails, walls, and gaps. Some call it an extreme sport, but it's not really a sport; there's no competition. Just you, and the obstacle. If you look on youtube for parkour you'll find a lot of things, very few of which are what I do. Imagine if the sport of rock climbing was only 20 years old. Lots of crazy people would be doing lots of crazy things, then justify it by calling it rock climbing. There would be much conflict on what rock climbing is, the risks involved and how to reduce them, and how to train physically and mentally. That's where parkour is today. Many traceurs attempt things their bodies aren't ready for, but don't recognize the warnings signs, and eventually get hurt. NC is very gifted to have some of the best traceurs in the country, and a very serious and dedicated community, who are in it for the long haul, not just 'til their knee's give out. However, the small group that I train with gives only one point of view on training: what they've learned from the founders and what they've discovered themselves in the relatively short time they've been training (anywhere from 1-6 or so years). We don't know what the consequences of our methods of training will be, if any, 10, 20 years down the road. So I've taken it upon myself to not limit my training to parkour only; I want to hear what other sports have to say. I've talked to physical therapists, martial artists, yogi's, and gymnasts, each of whom had their own perspective on the same questions.

What brought me to rock climbing was hands and fingers. We hang on walls...a lot. Like this, but usually with different foot placement

How one grips the wall is a spectrum: hanging by one's fingertips on one end, falsegrip on the other. Which you choose depends on the surface, and personal preference. Hanging by one's finger tips is fairly intuitive, depending on the surface. However, I'm not sure what the the consequences could be on the joints if done on a regular basis.

On the other extreme is false grip. The term is borrowed from gymnastics, when you hang by your wrists on the rings, but in parkour it refers to using one's whole hand as opposed to the finger tips. Here's my crummy false grip

I have a few problems with false grip. For one, maybe you noticed, but my wrists aren't flexible enough to get my touching the surface. Perhaps because of the flexibility issue, it seems to put a lot of pressure on one spot, making it very difficult to maintain. But there are obvious benefits. The wrist muscles seem bigger than the finger muscles, and the grip makes the transition from pulling to pushing much easier when climbing up a wall. In yoga, one's taught to use as much of the hand as possible to reduce strain on any one place, and this would be the grip, if only I could bend that far!

What I find myself using much more often is something in between. This position seems to have more padding than on the finger tips alone, but is easier and more versatile than false grip, at least for me.

With all that established (sorry I'm not one for brevity), which grip would be best, in your opinions, for hanging from, traversing, and climbing up walls, usually of brick or cement. Things to keep in mind are long term effects on the joints (arthritis, etc), abrasion on hands, strength required, and ease of transitioning in and out of.

Thus starts the relationship of parkour and rock climbing. I'm a very curious person by nature; you'll find I have lots of questions like these. Unfortunately, I get very few answers easily, something I'm learning to live with. I can't wait to go to a meet. This up coming one I won't be able to make, but I should be out there in the near future. If you're at all curious about parkour, check out http://www.ncparkour....­ I wasn't sent over as an official emissary or anything, but we love anyone and everyone to check us out and what we do. And if you've got a minute or five, I highly recommend this video. It was made by Duncan Germain, a local traceur and one of the best in the country. It's probably the best parkour video ever made, and is an excellent first look at what parkour is (the first minute or so is a response to comments from other traceurs, so it might not make sense but bear with him till it starts)


PS. at 2:30 is a perfect example of climbing up a wall. At first he catches himself with his finger tips, but then transitions to false grip.

And if you're REALLY hooked, and have time for a documentary­ (a warning: it's 90 minutes) or, the condensed important part­ (10 min)

Arlington, VA
Post #: 97
Hanging on you fingertips (something rock climbers do often), can be injure your finger tendons "pulleys" (google it). "Closed-handed" grips (crimping) are much worse than "open handed" (similar to what your 1st picture shows).

I'm guessing that #2 is very bad for your wrist. In reference to wrist muscles vs finger muscles, they are all in your foream (make a fist) and are often used simultaneously. If anything, I would guess the finger muscles are stronger. Think how hard it is to try and force someone to unclench their fist.

I'd definitely go with #3 if I had a choice.

Try here as well:­
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