Have you ever pulled on a hold while climbing and immediately felt a “pop” in your finger? Or maybe you’ve experienced nagging elbow pain that persisted for weeks after climbing?
Climbers experience very specific injuries due to the demands of the sport. Make sure you work with a professional who understands the sport of climbing and can help get you back to the crag! Typically climbers will deal with 3 different types of injuries:
Acute Accident-Related Injuries
These types of injuries occur when a quick unexpected movement causes increased stress to one part of the body. For example, if you are holding onto a crimp and your foot slips off the foothold, an increased amount of stress will be directed to your fingers and could potentially cause a pulley injury.
The most common injury that climbers deal with is a finger injury. Because climbing utilizes grip strength to stay on the rock wall, our fingers become our greatest tools. It becomes extremely important for any climber who sustains a finger injury to get the appropriate care. A professional who is familiar with the sport can help guide you through the recovery process and ensure you don’t cause more damage to your injury.
Perspective Physical Therapy is a proud advocate of the Isele-Method developed by Klaus Isele. Klaus Isele is a physiotherapist and osteopath who has worked with professional climbers such as Adam Ondra, Noguchi Akiyo, Alex Puccio, and more. He developed the Isele Method which is a conservative, local-osteopathic method to treat finger pain in climbers which has yielded great results.
Repetitive Overuse Injuries
These types of injuries occur when repeated movements create micro-traumas in the muscles, tendons, or joints. In climbing this can be observed in the elbows and is commonly called “Climbers Elbow.” Climbing requires use of your finger and wrist flexors for gripping. Doing this too much can irritate the tendon attachment to the elbow and turn into something called “tendinosis.” Tendinosis can come from overtraining, inadequate recovery, and muscular imbalances.
At Perspective Physical Therapy, we utilize functional movement-based exercises to help relieve your symptoms and improve your overall mobility so that specific muscles don’t become overloaded. When you are able to reduce the load on specific muscles that are utilized in climbing, you prevent tendonosis from developing and promote pain-free climbing.
Just as you can develop poor posture from sitting in a chair all day, performing the same movements over and over can also create poor posture. The repetitive pulling motions in climbing can be detrimental to your posture. Climbers can develop a hunchback from the constant pulling motions which is commonly referred to as “climbers back.” This can create limitations in movement and can even put you at an increased risk for injuries.
At Perspective Physical Therapy, we specialize in treating postural tendencies for climbers. By giving the body a more balanced starting position, we are able to prevent injuries from occurring as well as improve a climber’s performance.