Injuries are quite common amongst all types of climber. But most of us don’t know all about the injuries and don’t know how to prevent them. In this article we will be talking about all the types of injuries that climbers face and how to prevent them. Here are the most common places where climbing injuries occur:
- The elbow
- The fingers and hand
- The foot
- The wrist
- The knee
In order to avoid the most common climbing injuries, what can we do? Most climbing injuries can be avoided by warming up, climbing correctly, and stretching beforehand. In preparation for climbing, you should make sure every bit of your body is ready to work. Get your muscles ready by climbing on very easy grade climbs for around five or ten minutes. After that you can stretch or make use of the holds and wall. During a static stretch you should hold it for at least 20 seconds at a time. As soon as you get on the wall, you should be climbing with as much technique as possible to avoid overusing your muscles and joints. Correct climbing technique relieves strain on the limbs, reducing the probability of injury. When you climb too fast or aggressively, you may also fall off the wall and land in a bad position, causing injury.
The purpose of this article is to discuss the common climbing injuries mentioned above and how to prevent them from recurring as well as how to treat them.
Injury Commonly Involved in Climbing: Elbow
Anatomy of an elbow
It is made up of three bones: the humerus, the ulna, and the radius. It is located right in the middle of the arm. On the ends of each of the three bones that make up the elbow is cartilage, a rubbery material that helps the joints move. The elbow is made up of two major ligaments that connect the bones together. One is the medial collateral ligament. The other is the lateral collateral ligament. Lateral collaterals are located outside the elbow while medial collaterals are inside it. The ulna and humerus are connected by these ligaments. Additionally, there is a third ligament called the annular ligament, which attaches the head of the radius bone to the ulna bone. Your biceps and triceps are attached to your elbow bones, as well as your forearm muscles. Forearm tendonitis is commonly associated with forearm muscle tendons.
How does injury occur?
It is possible to injure your elbow when changing your climbing dynamic. A person who has been used to climbing steadily may begin to notice more pressure on the elbow area if they abruptly switch to climbing very aggressively. Your elbow can be injured even by changing types of climbing – going from lead climbing to bouldering places a greater strain on it and can result in an injury.
Acute elbow injuries are usually caused when the flexor muscles around the fingers and wrist suddenly contract, causing the elbow to crack. Over time, repetitive activities cause elbow injuries that cause damage to tendons and other kinds of tissue.
How to prevent climbing elbow injuries
Don’t overtrain. It can also cause chronic elbow injuries, and it isn’t good for you in general. In cases where you’ve taken a few weeks or even months off climbing, acknowledge this and understand that your elbows aren’t used to it, so climb slowly and with proper technique. Stretching and warming up before climbing are crucial. A lower grade can be used as a warm-up surface or there are simple warm-up techniques for your arms. Similarly, massaging your arms can prevent arm injuries as will massaging your upper back. It is strongly recommended that you wait some time before training your arm muscles again if you have recently worked them.
Treatment for elbow injuries
It is important to stretch the upper back, arms and shoulders regularly without causing any pain to the affected area. As needed, take a break from climbing; if you can keep training, decrease the load or grade. Ice reduces swelling, so it is great for injuries. In order to treat inflammation, you can use over-the-counter drugs (ask your doctor about them first), or you can use CBD oil. Massages may also be helpful to treat inflammation.
Climbers’ fingers: the most common injury
Anatomy of the finger
Three bones and three joints are found in a finger. Also found in the body are ligaments that attach to bones, and tendons that connect muscles to bones. A flexor tendon attaches your finger to your forearm through the finger. Our fingers bend when these muscles pull at the flexor tendons, allowing us to crimp on hold. Five annular pulleys are created by the connective tissue surrounding the tendons: A1, A2, A3, A4, and A5. An annular pulley, which keeps the bone and tendon together when the finger is bent, prevents the tendon from separating from the bone. The most common climbing injury is a finger injury.
How does an injury happen?
Overuse of the fingers or a large amount of excessive force applied to the fingers can cause finger injuries when climbing. The screw holes on an indoor rock wall are a good way to increase the chances of finger injury. Climbers are most likely to sustain an A2 pulley injury, which causes pain at the start of the finger near the palm and hurts when the finger is bent or straightened. When a finger has been injured, a clicking sound is heard, followed by swelling and pain. As the A2 pulley is primarily used for crimping, it is more likely to be injured than any other pulley. The lack of proper technique and the excessive amount of aggressive movements can result in such injuries when a dynamic move is made towards small and sharp crimps.
Prevention of climbing finger injuries
Warm up your fingers by stretching and climbing slowly for at least 10 minutes on a lower grade. Also use the warm down stretches in this article to warm up and cool down before and after a workout. Keep your balance by climbing less aggressively, using correct technique, and avoid putting your fingers in any screw holes – especially the deeper ones – as that is frowned upon and can really injure them.
The best way to treat a finger injury
Injuries to the fingers can be minor or serious. Strains, ruptures, and tears are possible.
A finger that gets sprained is not a big deal and will usually heal without requiring it to be splinted. It is a good exercise to bend your finger tightly for two or three seconds then release. Do this ten times. Now bend your finger the same way you did before, but instead of bending it you straighten it and continue to do this throughout the day.
A partial tear or rupture of the A2 or A3 pulley or a full tear of the A4 pulley will require you to wear a splint for a couple of weeks before returning to climbing. For about 3 months, once you’ve returned to climbing, you should wear finger tape to strengthen your fingers.
Splints are applied to the injured area in order to keep the pulledey immobilized for two weeks in full tears of the A2 and A3 pulleys. You should tape your fingers for between three and six months after you resume climbing.
If the annular pulley tears or ruptures, you should see a doctor, who will likely recommend surgery.
Whenever there is swelling, ice works wonders.
Foot injuries are common among climbers
Anatomy of the foot
There are three sections of the foot – the forefoot, the midfoot, and the hindfoot. The forefoot consists of five longer bones known as metatarsals as well as the toes. A few bones in the midfoot make up the foot’s arches. The hindfoot is where the heel and the ankle are. Calcaneus, also known as the heel bone, is the largest bone in the foot. A foot is made up of muscles, ligaments, and tendons that help it move and maintain balance. The Achilles tendon, which connects the calcaneus to the calf muscle, is one of the most famous tendons.
How does injury occur?
Most climbing-related foot injuries occur around the toes in the forefoot. Those feet can slip out of too small footwear or by aggressively planting their toes on holds (or both).
There’s a chance you can sprain or even break your ankle if you jump down from the top of a climb regularly, or if you land wrong on your foot as you come down.
In climbing, bunions are common, and they are usually painful only if something presses on them, such as the shoe inside or a wall.
Injuries to the foot when climbing
Wearing the appropriate shoes when climbing can prevent foot injuries. Climbers believe that their shoes should hurt when they climb. That’s nonsense. There’s a big difference between feeling discomfort and being in pain. Your body sends you pain when something is wrong with your body.
By learning how to fall correctly, you can avoid ankle sprains and breaks, especially when you have a straight leg. Bend your knees when you land if you are going to jump from the top of a climb (we all do it sometimes). This will reduce the load on your feet.
Climb correctly so that your toes/feet don’t dig into the wall or hold unduly – this is dangerous.
Treatment for foot injuries
If you have an annoying bunion, you may want to find more comfortable shoes, but you can have them surgically removed. It’s very likely, though, that a bunion will return if you continue the activity that caused it in the first place. If swelling occurs within the foot, such as in the toes or ankles, use ice and rest to treat it. Should you suspect you have sprained or broken your ankle, you should stop climbing immediately and see your doctor for further guidance.
The most common climbing injury is a wrist injury
The wrist is composed of two long bones in the arm – the ulna and the radius – as well as a number of smaller bones known as the carpus. Ulna and radius are located at the top of the wrist. There is a part of the wrist that is commonly injured in climbers called the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC). By stabilizing the radial carpal joint and the radio-ulna joint, the TFCC is designed to prevent injuries.
How does injury occur?
Climbers typically injure the TFCC when they fall from a wall and land on their hand in an inappropriate manner. Injuries can also result from overusing the wrist when climbing – overtraining can cause a variety of injuries.
Injuries to the wrist can occur when using a hold as a mantle. When the wrist is compressed on the hold it causes the wrist to rotate.
How to prevent climbing wrist injuries
Learning how to fall properly is the key to preventing wrist injury. Do not fall on outstretched hands. It’s advisable to stop climbing if your muscles and joints are feeling fatigued, since overtraining your wrists causes instability in the joint and when mantling, do not force yourself up aggressively or too quickly – use proper technique and patience. Warm up and stretch before climbing.
Taking care of a wrist injury
If your wrist has been injured acutely, it may require surgery due to large tears in the tissue. If a bone is broken, it will probably need to be immobilized with some kind of pot or splint. If there is swelling from a chronic injury, rest and ice are essential. If you need to take an anti-inflammatory drug over the counter, you should speak with your physician. You should also avoid holding your wrist or performing any movements that will aggravate your injury. You should probably avoid climbing slopers.
Knee injuries are common among climbers
Anatomy of the knee
Legs have three bones in the knee: the femur (thighbone), tibia (shinbone), and patella (kneecap). Two kinds of cartilage in the knee serve as shock absorbers between the bones and as a cushion. Meniscal cartilage and articular cartilage are the two kinds. Medial and lateral menisci are located on the inner and outer sides of the knee, respectively. Injury to the knee caused by climbing often causes a torn meniscus. ACL (or anterior cruciate ligament) is one of several ligaments found in the knee. Injuries to the ACL are common in climbing.
How does injury occur?
Meniscus tears can be caused by repetitively using a climbing technique called a drop knee. Rotating the knees downward causes torque around the knee area, causing injury to the meniscus. Using improper technique when climbing aggressively can also lead to knee injuries. A straight leg landing can cause the knee to twist or create a ‘knee bar’ which pulls the hinge joint in the wrong direction.
How to prevent knee injuries while climbing
Turn your foot the same way your knee turns when you’re doing a drop knee. Keep your technique straight and climb slowly. Learn to fall without landing on your straight leg by warming up properly before climbing.
Knee injury treatment
If you have swelling, rest and ice are always beneficial. A serious knee injury might require surgery. An ACL injury is commonly treated with surgery. Injuries to the meniscus or ACL will likely require you to use crutches until it is safe to put weight on the leg. Cycling is a very good way for some sports stars who have had ACL surgery to recover from the injury. To know how shoulders get affected by rock climbing, check out this article.
Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs ):
How can climbing injuries be prevented?
Add weight training, running, biking, and yoga to your climbing workout. Cross training develops muscles your climbing does not, ensuring a balance between your muscles. Additionally, you become a more interesting human being if you have interests outside of climbing.
How do you prevent finger injuries when climbing?
Begin bending the finger gently until it feels tight, hold it for 2 to 3 seconds, and then relax, repeating this several times each day. Now straighten the finger and repeat the same exercise. Do not push through pain.
How can mountain climbers prevent accidents?
Equip yourself with a helmet, appropriate footwear, a harness and rope, descenders, carabiners, a whistle, and a knife. You should use a rope that is twice the length of the height of the greatest descent when you enter the gorge. It is also a good idea to carry an extra rope. To know more about it check out this video.
Is Climbing bad for your wrists?
As a climber, the most common wrist injury is caused by a fracture of the triangular fibrocartilage complex. A cartilage structure is located between the wrist’s end of the forearm and the wrist’s carpal bones on the pinky side.