Research > Research Inventory > Cognitive-Motor Learning: Grabbing

The influence of hold regularity on perceptual-motor behaviour in indoor climbing.

Authors: Button C, Orth D, Davids K, Seifert L. | Year: 2018
Summary/results: Nine participants (5.11d – 5.13d) climbed two routes; the first route consisted of 18 different hold types and shapes, whereas the second route consisted of only 2 holds. Surprisingly, the climbers found the climb with fewer hold types (regular route) more challenging – potentially due to increased technical demands. The routes were intended to be the same difficulty with similar topographical hold positioning. Beta-Angel note: this article is interesting due to its somewhat confusing findings. Why did these climbers spend longer looking at, and climbing, the regular route? Why did they perceive it as harder as well? The authors suggest a few options, including the idea that irregularity can be exploited by skilled performers, that restrictive climbing routes may be perceived as more difficult, and that these restrictive routes may require more effort to climb fluidly.
Reference: Eur J Sport Sci. 2018 Sep;18(8):1090-1099.
Cognitive-Motor Learning > Grabbing

Effect of Magnesium Carbonate Use on Repeated Open-Handed and Pinch Grip Weight-Assisted Pull-Ups.

Author: NT Bacon, GA Ryan, JE Wingo, MT Richardson, T. Pangallo, PA Bishop | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers attached climbing holds to a pull-up weight assistance machine in order to understand the effect of chalk on a pulling motion using an open-hand and pinch grip. Chalk improved both open hand and pinch grip pull-up repetitions in recreational climbers at the V1-V7 grade range. Beta Angel note: The authors attempt to synthesize previous, contradictory information regarding the effect of chalk on the coefficient of friction. While they aren’t clear on the reasons for the contradiction, they suggest it could be the differences in each study’s set-up and fall on the side of “chalk helps.” Additionally, there is some interesting writing on the relationship of the direction of grabbing with the wrist’s position and the pulling muscles which should influence future research on limb positioning.
Reference: Int J Exerc Sci. 2018 Jan 1;11(4):479-492. eCollection 2018.
Cognitive-Motor Learning > Grabbing

Physiological responses during two climbing tests with different hold types

AUTHOR: Michail L MichailovRobert RokowskiTomasz RęgwelskiRobert StaszkiewiczLee E BrownZbigniew Szygula | Year: 2017
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Investigators measured the differences in heart rate, oxygen consumption, and blood lactate (a byproduct of the body’s use of simple sugars formed in association with muscular fatigue, often associated with being “pumped”) using two different hold inclinations, or slants.  The increased “slant,” which makes a hold more difficult to grab, appears to correlate with higher spikes in peak consumption and heart rate.  Interestingly, the clearance rate of lactate between minute 3 and minute 20 in elite climber forearms was significantly correlated with outside climbing performance, and that a climber’s peak oxygen consumption during the test is important as an indicator of difficulty. Further, the authors suggest averaged values for heart rate, oxygen consumption, and lactate at 3 minutes can be used for performance evaluation but not as intensity indicators.  Beta-Angel note: We found a copy!  Thank you!  Beta Angel has their very own angel looking out for us.  UPDATED on 2/13/2019.  Oh my Goodness, the lactate clearance article!  You’re looking at a legend right here folks.
REFERENCE: International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 2017. Vol 12, Issue 2

Magnesium Carbonate (Chalk) Increases Hang-Time Until Failure in Rock Climbing

AUTHOR: MA Kilgas, SN Drum, RL Jensen, KC Phillips, PB Watts | Year: 2016
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers measured climbing time, geometric entropy from two angles, muscle electricity activity, hang time on a hold, the coefficient of friction, and the force ratio between hands and feet – all under two conditions: with chalk and without chalk. Chalk had no significant difference on any of the parameters with the exception of hang time, which was significantly longer with chalk.
REFERENCE: 3rd Rock Climbing Research Congress. Proceedings 2016, Telluride, CO

Motor Unit Activation Strategy During a Sustained Isometric Contraction of Finger Flexor Muscles in Elite Climbers

AUTHOR: Eloisa Limonta, Emiliano Cè, Massimiliano Gobbo, Arsenio Veicsteinas, Claudio Orizio and Fabio Esposito  |  Year: 2015
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Research found that climbing specific activity increased a person’s maximum voluntary contraction, endurance, force accuracy and stability during a handgrip isometric effect. Suggests adaptability of motor control system after climbing experience.
REFERENCE: Motor unit activation strategy during a sustained isometric contraction of finger flexor muscles in elite climbers. (2016). Journal Of Sports Sciences.

Reliability of Force Application to Instrumented Climbing Holds in Elite Climbers

AUTHOR: Lars Donath and Peter Wolf  | Year: 2015
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers analyzed climbers’ ability to hold onto handholds in an onsight and a redpoint bouldering format. Reliability of the data throughout trials increased during redpoint format trials.
REFERENCE: Reliability of Force Application to Instrumented Climbing Holds In Elite Climbers. JAB, 31(5), 377-382.

Expertise affects representation structure and categorical activation of grasp postures in climbing

AUTHOR: BE Blasing, I Guldenpenning, D Koester, T Schack | Year: 2014
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Blasing et al. compared both climbers and non-climbers on the visual inspection of holds as well as the groups’ potential understanding of how to grab holds. The researchers suggest that their findings are evidence that understanding and categorizing holds is influenced by a subject’s ability to, through the impact of their prior experience on both cognition and action, understand their own potential to grab a hold. Beta-Angel note: probable connection to some of the work on exploration in movement.
REFERENCE: Front Psychol. 2014 Sep 15;5:1008.

An assessment of the performance of grip enhancing agents used in sports applications AND Skin friction at the interface between hands and sports equipment

AUTHOR: R. Lewis, MJ Carre, SE Tomlinson, JW Collins | Year: 2014
SUMMARY/RESULTS: The authors sought to identify the relationship of friction and sandstone under different conditions: normal chalk, liquid chalk, and bare fingers. On sandstone, no difference in friction was identified between normal chalk, liquid chalk, and a damp chalk-free finger. However, for a dry, chalk-free finger, lower friction was found probably because fine stone particles create a “solid lubricat[ing] effect”.
REFERENCE: Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology, 226 (J7) AND Procedia Engineering 72 (2014) 611 – 617

Measurement of the Coefficient of Friction and the Centre of Pressure of a Curved Surface of a Climbing Handhold

Author: Fuss et al. | Year: 2013
Summary: No Summary Available Yet.
Reference: Procedia Engineering, 60, 2013: 491-495

The effect of chalk on the finger-hold friction coefficient in rock climbing

AUTHOR: AM Amca, L Vigouroux, S. Aritan, E. Berton | Year: 2012
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Authors tested friction on sandstone and limestone rock using 11 experienced climbers and a specially designed hang board that tilted in angle until climbers fell. Chalk was beneficial on both rock types, and sandstone had both higher friction as well as well as an increased positive effect of chalk over limestone, confirming that chalk enhances friction and that it enhances it differently based on rock-type. Beta-Angel note: This is the study that I’ve seen referenced during arguments about whether humidity and temperature impact friction coefficient. The authors specifically note that more work needs to be done to understand the effects of climate on finger friction.
REFERENCE: Sprots Biomechanics, Vol 11 (4), 2012

The importance of friction between hand and hold in rock climbing

AUTHOR: F.K. Fuss, G. Niegl | Year: 2012
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Authors review what is known about friction and rock climbing in terms of specific variables (coefficient of friction, point of impending slippage) and their relationship with performance parameters (e.g. impulse, smoothness factor). Authors state that 64% of friction cannot be explained by the influence of performance parameters, and that chalk on the hand and fingers enhances friction, whereas chalk on both hand and holds reduces it.
REFERENCE: Sports Technology, Volume 5, 2012 3-4: Climbing Technology

Effect of Object Width on Muscle and Joint Forces During Thumb–Index Finger Grasping

Authors: Vigouroux, Domalain, Berton | Year: 2011
Summary/Results: Beta-Angel note: while not a paper which even mentions rock climbing, the lead author is a climbing researcher (and strong boulderer – I climbed with him in Chamonix, France) and the experimental design using multiple-width pinch grips that exploit the fingertips is one which has obvious rock climbing implications.
Reference: Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 2011, 27, 173-180

Use of ‘chalk’ in rock climbing: sine qua non or myth?

AUTHOR: FX Li, S. Margetts, I. Fowler | Year: 2001
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers measured the ratio between the force of the hand and the force of the hold being pulled away from the hand (called the coefficient of friction) in 15 participants. The primary conclusion was that chalk decreased the coefficient of friction, possibly because it dries the skin and creates a slippery granular layer. Beta-Angel note: please note the comment regarding issues with the design of the study.
REFERENCE: J Sports Sci. 2001 Jun;19(6):427-32.

Postural constraints modify the organization of grasping movements

AUTHOR: Bourdin, Teasdale, Nougier, Bard, Fleury | Year: 1999
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers tested grasping movements using two variables: Posture (easy vs. complex) and Hold Depth (.8, 2, and 5 cm). Researchers found that the movement duration was shorter for the complex posture than for the simpler one and that hold depth did not influence the speed at which the climbers grabbed. The authors suggest that there is an ordering of priorities between posturing for the hold, and grabbing the hold, and that posturing is higher.
REFERENCE: Human Movement Science Volume 18, Issue 1, February 1999, Pages 87–102

High postural constraints affect the organization of reaching and grasping movements

AUTHOR: Bourdin C, Teasdale N, Nougier V. | Year: 1998
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Four expert climbers participated in a study measuring the vertical forces applied by the hands using a strain gauge. The climbers performed grasping moves toward both easy and difficult holds in two different postures (standing and climbing). Researchers found that while climbing, the duration of the hand for grasping a difficult hold was shorter than for grasping an easier hold. Researchers suggest that posture may matter more than accuracy in rock climbing.
Beta-Angel note: Position. Position. Position.
REFERENCE: Exp Brain Res. 1998 Oct;122(3):253-9.