Prevention Plan for Finger Tendon Injuries

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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 weve 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 sailors 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.

  1. Tear a 10-inch strip.
  2. Warp once around the base of the finger.
  3. Cross diagonally under the joint with the finger slightly bent.
  4. Wrap around the next bone once.
  5. Cross diagonally under the first joint from the opposite side, still bent.
  6. Wrap one last time around the base of the finger.

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.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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