5 Common Climbing Injuries And How To Avoid Them

5 Common Climbing Injuries And How To Avoid Them

Nobody ever said that rock climbing was a completely gentle sport and if you’ve ever been out on the rocks before you’ll know that cuts and bruises are all part of the game. While we can’t exactly avoid these types of minor injuries, there are some more serious things that occur when we’re out enjoying our favorite hobby.

These climbing injuries are so common that almost every climber has experienced at least one. However, as your skills progress and you learn more about the hobby, you’ll see that although they’re common climbing injuries they don’t have to be.

With a little care and preparation, you’ll be able to avoid them altogether and get on with what you really love.

#1: Subluxation

Shoulder Subluxation

Subluxation is also known as a partial dislocation, so you can imagine the discomfort that it can cause. The most common place for subluxation to occur is in the shoulders due to the heavy load that these joints take.

During moves like bouldering, the ball joint of the shoulder extends forwards and if this extends too far then it causes the partial dislocation. When it happens, the pain will be instant and searing, and not pleasant at all.

To avoid subluxation from happening to you, you’ll need to constantly work at strengthening the shoulder. Exercises like push-ups and dips can make it stronger and careful care when climbing not to overextend.

If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer from this partial dislocation it means a long period without climbing and usually extensive therapy to fix it.

#2: Pulley Tears

The most common climbing finger injuries are pulley tears, and this occurs in the ligaments that compress our finger flexor tendons. Because we rely on our fingers and these ligaments to hold most of our weight, they constantly come under pressure and can tear easily if we’re not careful.

The most prevalent time when a tear occurs is from crimping too much or using finger pockets, which is a huge part of every climb.

To avoid pulley tears from happening in the future, you need to pay careful attention to increasing your crimp strength. Without fingers being strong enough to handle the load you’re giving them, you’re bound to end up with a pulley tear sooner or later and it can be damaging enough to stop you from climbing for a while.

#3: Tendonitis

Elbow Tendonitis

Tendonitis is a common injury among all types of active people but it’s one that plagues rock climbers quite a bit. The natural actions that occur during climbing mean that we’re pulling on our muscles to lift ourselves and not pushing on them.

This then leads to inflamed tendons which are also known as tendonitis. Tendonitis can happen in any part of the body that gets overused this way but for climbers that means elbows, shoulders, and forearms.

If you’ve already developed tendonitis, it requires quite a bit of care to treat and means you’ll have to drastically reduce your climbing schedule. Like most other sports and exercise, the key to stopping tendonitis before it occurs is stretching.

You’ll also need to work on strengthening your muscles with the right training in between climbs so you can be in peak physical conditions for things like grips and rotating.

#4: Rotator Cuff Tears

By far the most common injury for all rock climbers is a rotator cuff tear, and this is something that most of us will experience at least once. A rotator cuff tear is when you have a tear in your shoulder muscles and not a complete dislocation so while it definitely hurts, it’s not as serious as some of the other injuries.

You might feel an aching pain on the top of your shoulder if you try to stretch or put your arms above your head, and this is a sign you’ve torn your rotator cuff. To avoid these tears from occurring, you need to develop a strong stretching regime that you follow before each climb and work on strengthening your shoulder muscles in between climbs.

If you feel pain in your shoulder during climbing, stop immediately, as this can prevent the tear from getting any worse.

#5: Trigger Finger Syndrome

Trigger Finger Syndrome

Most climbers would have experienced the feeling of this syndrome before, but it’s not always bad. When you’ve finished your climb for the day you might notice your finger pops or stiffens up now and then, and it’s a pretty standard injury.

Trigger finger syndrome happens when a cyst forms in your finger tendons and makes it hard to use. Usually, it won’t be painful but more of an annoyance than anything and it can seriously impact your grip.

Sadly, if you have trigger finger syndrome you can only really wait for the cyst to disappear so it’s not something that can be easily treated. Some have found relief with acupuncture in the area, otherwise, it’s a waiting game for the cyst to move out of your body.

There’s not much you can do to prevent it either, with stretching being the best way to avoid it from happening again.

Taking Care When Climbing

If you’re passionate about climbing, and most of us are, you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure you don’t have to miss out on your favorite pastime. Injuries are common when you love a sport that’s this extreme but it doesn’t mean you have to sustain serious or long-lasting ones.

So that you can continue to enjoy rock climbing, you really need to be careful with your technique and the gear that you’re using. A little bit of care and preparation now will mean less chance of climber’s elbow or deltoid injuries, so it’s well worth it to pay attention to what you’re doing.

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