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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How do you prevent finger injuries? Not crashing is at the top of my list (I've been focusing on technique instead of speed), but I am going to buy elbow pads, now that I am trying to have them take the brunt of falls, after my finger fracture 8 months ago. Maybe some finger strengthening exercises?

I broke the tip of my right pinky 8 months ago, and was off the bike for 5 months. Last weekend I crashed on it twice and it seems to be sprained, according to x-rays not showing any major fracture. All crashes were due to front tire washout while descending on dust over hardpack. My weight was probably not enough forward in two of the cases (1. off camber slight slope down, going too fast 2.big slope down with lots of loose rocks, did not commit body forward enough). I am not sure about the third case, it was a somewhat flat turn on a gradual descent, and I think I may have tried to lean the bike too much for the lack of grip, and maybe my weight was too off center, I wasn't going very fast.
 

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How do you prevent finger injuries? Not crashing is at the top of my list (I've been focusing on technique instead of speed), but I am going to buy elbow pads, now that I am trying to have them take the brunt of falls, after my finger fracture 8 months ago. Maybe some finger strengthening exercises?

I broke the tip of my right pinky 8 months ago, and was off the bike for 5 months. Last weekend I crashed on it twice and it seems to be sprained, according to x-rays not showing any major fracture. All crashes were due to front tire washout while descending on dust over hardpack. My weight was probably not enough forward in two of the cases (1. off camber slight slope down, going too fast 2.big slope down with lots of loose rocks, did not commit body forward enough). I am not sure about the third case, it was a somewhat flat turn on a gradual descent, and I think I may have tried to lean the bike too much for the lack of grip, and maybe my weight was too off center, I wasn't going very fast.
I know this isn't that helpful but I did gymnastics as a kid and have found that even many decades later I still shoulder roll when crashing, tucking my arm under and leading with a shoulder roll whenever possible. That said the worst finger injury I have had from crashing directly was CX racing and hitting a patch of sidewalk that was under mud in a corner. I hit the ground so fast that barely got my hand off the bar and caught my thumb on something as I hit the ground. This might be similar to the washing out crash that you had, where you have no opportunity to do anything but hit the ground.

I do recall that things people should do is practice crashing, so that when you do, you have the mental picture of how to land. Obviously practicing on grass or in a park but work on what to do in various situations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I know this isn't that helpful but I did gymnastics as a kid and have found that even many decades later I still shoulder roll when crashing, tucking my arm under and leading with a shoulder roll whenever possible. That said the worst finger injury I have had from crashing directly was CX racing and hitting a patch of sidewalk that was under mud in a corner. I hit the ground so fast that barely got my hand off the bar and caught my thumb on something as I hit the ground. This might be similar to the washing out crash that you had, where you have no opportunity to do anything but hit the ground.

I do recall that things people should do is practice crashing, so that when you do, you have the mental picture of how to land. Obviously practicing on grass or in a park but work on what to do in various situations.
Yes, I should sign my kid up for gymnastics/martial arts and learn with them how to fall, before I'm too old to practice.

I've seen the advice to practice sharp turns on a soft surface, to better understand limits of traction with different front/back wheel distributions, and that would probably be a good setup for practicing crashing too. Now I just need to find a grass field or something where no one will mind me skidding and wiping out over and over again. I've had trouble motivating to do off trail drills like this, but they do sound helpful.
 

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"Tuck and roll: it's a skill too."

(When possible of course)

I lost the front tire on a steep drop-in two winters ago on the fatbike. Pretty much put me on my face with arms out. While using my face as a snow plow (this all happened in the blink of an eye) I had my arms out in front and my left index finger got jammed on a rock while I was sliding. Pretty hard slam.

I stood up (wearing gloves) and it was quite obvious my finger was dislocated. I grabbed it and pulled hard. "POP" back it goes. 6 days later and it still didn't feel right so went to urgent care and sure enough it was broken too. Months and months and months of rehab, it was/is a stubborn bugger! Probably didn't help that I was riding the whole time it was trying to heal but it will never be the same again.

It still bothers me today (pain, mobility) but at least I can use it for the front brake lever again. I was using my middle finger for a long time.

Not sure how to prevent finger damage? But I can confirm it SUCKS!
 

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"Tuck and roll: it's a skill too."

(When possible of course)

I lost the front tire on a steep drop-in two winters ago on the fatbike. Pretty much put me on my face with arms out. While using my face as a snow plow (this all happened in the blink of an eye) I had my arms out in front and my left index finger got jammed on a rock while I was sliding. Pretty hard slam.

I stood up (wearing gloves) and it was quite obvious my finger was dislocated. I grabbed it and pulled hard. "POP" back it goes. 6 days later and it still didn't feel right so went to urgent care and sure enough it was broken too. Months and months and months of rehab, it was/is a stubborn bugger! Probably didn't help that I was riding the whole time it was trying to heal but it will never be the same again.

It still bothers me today (pain, mobility) but at least I can use it for the front brake lever again. I was using my middle finger for a long time.

Not sure how to prevent finger damage? But I can confirm it SUCKS!
I got hit by a car commuting and it pushed me into a parked food truck and my pinky stopped most of my weight in a grill on the truck. I ended up with a hammer finger, which is what it is called when you tear the tendon off the distal bone of the finger. It makes your finger droop involuntarily. Aside from a bunch of joint damage this was the major damage for me. Recovery for me included 3 months with a splint on the finger. Bending the finger joint at all restarted the clock so if I removed the splint I needed to ensure my finger stayed straight. I rarely took it off, except to clean my finger with alcohol, and after 4 months, the upper limit of how long they suggested to leave it on, I removed the splint for short durations. After a week I finally put it in a drawer and began using my finger again. It has taken more than a year for pain to subside, the joint is crunchy feeling, the finger tip is no longer straight, and I get pain if I have to carry something that bears on that finger and this was just my pinky. Finger injuries suck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
"Tuck and roll: it's a skill too."

(When possible of course)

I lost the front tire on a steep drop-in two winters ago on the fatbike. Pretty much put me on my face with arms out. While using my face as a snow plow (this all happened in the blink of an eye) I had my arms out in front and my left index finger got jammed on a rock while I was sliding. Pretty hard slam.

I stood up (wearing gloves) and it was quite obvious my finger was dislocated. I grabbed it and pulled hard. "POP" back it goes. 6 days later and it still didn't feel right so went to urgent care and sure enough it was broken too. Months and months and months of rehab, it was/is a stubborn bugger! Probably didn't help that I was riding the whole time it was trying to heal but it will never be the same again.

It still bothers me today (pain, mobility) but at least I can use it for the front brake lever again. I was using my middle finger for a long time.

Not sure how to prevent finger damage? But I can confirm it SUCKS!
Ouch! And I thought I would try snow fat biking some time for a refreshing taste of mountain biking with soft cushy crash landings.

I rode with the fractured finger for a week also, and I kept wondering, why does it still hurt when it gets jostled on the downhill? When I finally sought treatment, I opted to just go with a splint instead of having a pin sticking out of my finger while it healed. I was back on the bike faster that way, (and I could take showers for the job interviews I was going through!) and the pinky seems functional, but it looks weird and probably needs some strengthening. Maybe I should get one of those squeezy hand exercisers?
 

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I ended up with a hammer finger,
I went OTB and got that on my right ring finger, no idea how it happened during the crash. Pretty much had a similar experience with the splint. I ended up making my own splint out of a 1/2"x2" slice of the side of a plastic pill container and cloth tape. I heated it up with a lighter and put some bends in it to conform to my finger, and it was actually pretty comfy, even drilled vent holes in it with a dremel. There was no way I was going to wear a big aluminum and foam deal for 6 weeks. I got lucky and it straightens out all the way, it might ache a bit sometimes, but that's it.
 

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I went OTB and got that on my right ring finger, no idea how it happened during the crash. Pretty much had a similar experience with the splint. I ended up making my own splint out of a 1/2"x2" slice of the side of a plastic pill container and cloth tape. I heated it up with a lighter and put some bends in it to conform to my finger, and it was actually pretty comfy, even drilled vent holes in it with a dremel. There was no way I was going to wear a big aluminum and foam deal for 6 weeks. I got lucky and it straightens out all the way, it might ache a bit sometimes, but that's it.
I went to an orthopedic clinic at the University of WA and they have the material that is similar to what you did. It is heat formed and can be cut with scissors. Never broke it and it was small enough to fit under full fingered gloves which let me keep commuting.
 

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Ouch! And I thought I would try snow fat biking some time for a refreshing taste of mountain biking with soft cushy crash landings.
To be fair I had NO business trying to drop in on that trail with 5" of fresh powder. It was too deep to get traction. It was towards the end of winter and I had made that drop-in every time but one through the winter, I was too confident and reckless.

Most (normal) people ride much more mild terrain in the snow. You generally just don't have the traction to do anything too steep.

Worst part is that it pretty much ended my season before it even started. It still annoys me that one little finger could wreck your season.

I had major joint issues. They told me the swelling has nowhere to go since a finger is a dead end. I received many Cortisone shots for about a year, maybe more until they wouldn't let me have any more. The bone healed fine but my finger is still twisted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Those heat formed splints sound comfortable, aside from your skin getting all white and puffy if it gets wet. I used an Oval-8 minimal splint when my pinky was broken, and then when I sprained it, and it avoids the moisture trap issue mostly, but since it isn't custom, it is a little uncomfortable, now that my finger healed a little crooked in two axes.

I ordered some gloves with knuckle protection, some elbow pads, and zero rise handle bar and new stem to see if I can get a little more weight on my front wheel in flat corners and shallow descents (my bike has an unusually tall headtube). I might get a DHF MaxGrip next time for my front tire, instead of MaxTerra too, and I guess I will go sub 20 PSI for now.

I still need to practice falling safely, and just focus on weight distribution in attack position. Those are probably the main things that should help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, I fractured that pinky again. Luckily it was just the tip this time.
I landed on it pushing too fast on a shallow right turn in 2-3 inches of sand. I was wearing some new gloves with outer hand protection down to the last knuckle in my pinky.

There was a split second where I felt my pinky sticking out and I tried to pull it in, but too late. Too bad I hadn't been practicing falls.

I thought about my technique a lot after that last crash, and can see that my right turn technique is much worse than my left, I could even see that my left front cornering knobs were worn much more than my right, when I changed the DHF out for an XR4 after the crash, to try out intermediate knobs (I rode a couple more times before I decided to get an x-ray)
 

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Crashing sux...I hope you guys heal up fast and get out there soon. I've had many in 30 years of riding. Concussions, separated shoulders, bone bruises, strains, sprains, nasty cuts, bruises and scrapes galore. Somehow I never broke anything or had any injuries to hands or fingers. Is it my supreme crashing technique? Possibly but I think there's a good bit of dumb luck and chance.

It does sound like OP is having more than his fair share of similar 'washout' crashes causing all these hand injuries so there's gotta be something technique-wise that can be improved. Keep working at it but for chris-sake...STOP CRASHING!

Experiencing a few 'epic' crashes and injuries eventually changes how most people ride. I wasn't a real quick learner in that regard but at 59 it's been 2 years since I had x-rays or MRI's so maybe I'm finally catching on.
 
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