Prevention Plan for Finger Tendon Injuries
As an avid climber I pay attention to my aches and pains. To blindly ignore them puts myself and others at risk. The same is true for sailing.
In previous issues we’ve looked at orthopedic supports for knees, (see PS July 2018, “Knee pads and braces for sailors”), and modifications that can improve onboard ergonomics to keep sailing fun and safe at any age (see PS February 2016 “The Tall Step Syndrome”).
An unsung hero in the sailor’s medical kit is cloth athletic tape, which is waterproof and easy to use. I use 1˝-inch wide tape to add arch support with a taping technique known as the Low Dye technique (you can find several videos instructions online). For hand and finger protection, I use 1-inch wide tape. When done correctly, this taping won’t interfere with line-handling, but it will prevent you from gripping lines too tightly which can often lead to injured tendons or tendon pulleys.
Do not over-tension the tape. You do not want to cut off the circulation. You can tape all fingers, but generally the middle and ring fingers are the most vulnerable to tendon damage.
Drew Frye is technical editor for Practical Sailor and author of Rigging Modern Anchors . He also blogs at www.blogspot.saildelmarva.com.