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The Inertia

Come day one or day one thousand and one, every climber at every level can relate to the feeling of “getting pumped.” The burn, the swelling, the tightness in the forearms that makes it harder and harder to grip. It’s the feeling in the body that’s thoroughly understood, but the biology of it much less so. Something about lactic acid buildup, you might say.

Turns out strange idiosyncrasies of the climbing life, from getting pumped to hangboard training, make for super interesting studies of human biology and physiology. For instance, did you have any idea that there are no muscles in the fingers used to grip, but instead your forearm muscles pull tendons in your fingers in a pulley/lever system? Wild, huh?

All of these factoids are demonstrated in practice by British climber Shauna Coxsey who we will undoubtedly see more of when she competes in climbing’s Olympic debut this summer.


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