Experienced climbers have all had a few scrapes and bruises. This is a part of climbing. Some injuries are more serious and they usually happen because of faulty equipment or a miscalculation by the climber. Here are the five most common climbing injuries and how you can prevent them from happening to you.
Subluxation is the term that is used to describe a partial dislocation of a body part. For climbers, it happens the most often in the shoulders. This kind of injury is the most common during bouldering. It happens when the climber stretches the arms too far in a big move and the ball joint in the shoulder becomes extended too far. It slips partially out of place and the result is a searing pain. It can cause a bad situation if you’re in a compromising part of the climb. Imagine not being able to move your arm without pain and needing to repel downwards. This type of injury can take months of therapy to fix.
How to avoid subluxation
You need to keep a good grip to avoid unnecessary swings. Keep your fingernails trimmed. This will help you to avoid losing your grip and breaking nails backward. The second way to help prevent subluxation is to engage in full body strength training. This will help to strengthen the muscles and surrounding tissue. It will help to give you more strength when you’re in potentially damaging hanging situations.
#2- Pulley Tears
Pulley tears happen when the ligaments in your fingers become depressed. The finger flexor tendons attach to the bones in the fingers and they are vulnerable to tearing when climbing. When there is an excessive amount of weight they are carrying, crimping holds are the most dangerous for causing these injuries.
How to prevent pulley tears
The best way to prevent pulley tear injuries is to do some strength training in advance. Focus on building crimp strength for each of your fingers. Do it slowly and build up so you don’t cause such an injury in training. Whenever possible, try to give your fingers a break so you don’t overdo crimp holds when you’re climbing. Take it slow and calculate your moves. Use the open hand holds as much as you can.
#3- Rotor Cuff Tears
These are a common climbing injury and they can also be debilitating. Rotor cuff tears happen when the muscles in your shoulder tear instead of becoming dislocated. They happen the most often when the arms are placed above the shoulders and a lot of stress is placed on the tendons. Quick and dynamic moves are the most common culprit.
How to prevent rotor cuff tears
The first rule of thumb is to take breaks when you need them. This will give your body a break and help your muscles to regain some strength. You will also be less likely to throw your all into a maneuver because you feel exhausted.
#4- Rolled Ankles
Rolled ankles happen the most often when a climber gets in a hurry to descend. When you jump downwards onto the ground or onto a boulder beneath you, the impact can cause you to lose your balance and fall in a way that causes the ankle to turn or to roll. The results can be a painful sprain that is far worse than a break. It can stretch and tear muscle and tendons and give you a long recovery period. Another move that can lead to ankle rolling is jumping onto a rock ledge and landing with your full body weight instead of taking it slow and easy and using your ropes.
How to prevent rolled ankles
The best way to prevent this is to take care when descending and down climb instead of jumping to the bottom. When moving from one ledge or surface to another, take your time and don’t be in a hurry. Avoid moves that will lead to an impact on your ankle or foot. When seeking a foot grip, be slow and methodical. Practice strength training exercises in advance to build your ankle strength. When your ankles and legs are fatigued, take a break.
Another common injury that afflicts climbers is tendonitis. The muscles and tendons are often pulled instead of pushed and this causes inflammation of the tendons. When it happens too often it can result in tendonitis. It usually shows up in the forearms, elbows, and shoulders, but it can happen anywhere in the body that you have tendons.
How to prevent tendonitis
The best way to prevent tendonitis is to practice stretching exercises to get your tendons and muscles in their best possible condition. This includes not overdoing it. You need to learn how to take breaks at the appropriate times and this can be tricky when you’re trying to build your strength and flexibility. A good training program and using moderation when you’re climbing is the best way to prevent developing tendonitis.
A video sharing tips on avoiding climbing injuries:
If you are new to our blog, check our Climbing Resources:
- Rock Climbing Shoes for Wide Feet
- Climbing Shoes Care
- Climbing Rope Care
- Fitting Guide for Climbing Shoes
- Overcoming the Fear of Falling
- Full Body Strength Exercises for Rock Climbing
- Finger Strength Training for Rock Climbing