Common Rock Climbing Injuries

Rock climbers can suffer from a whole host of injuries. From falling and banging their head to ankle sprains, the wide scope of mishaps which could occur on a rock climbing trip means that many different types of injury can occur. However, when it comes down to considering the most common type of injuries sustained whilst climbing, the most frequent causes of injury are to the shoulder, arm, elbow, fingers and wrist which is hardly surprising given that it’s these parts of the body which usually suffer the most strain during this activity.


If you experience shoulder pain as a result of climbing, it’s likely that it’s an injury to either the rotator cuff or to the biceps tendon where it’s attached the shoulder. It could be either a rotator cuff strain or maybe you’ve torn it. You can also suffer from tendonitis in both your biceps tendon and rotator cuff. There are different types of pain associated with each of these conditions and the degree to which you can move your arm and the nature of the resulting pain and the area within your arms and shoulders in which it is concentrated the most, are the best indicators of the type of damage you’ve sustained.


The two most common types of pain felt in the elbows are either on the outside or the inside of the elbow but can also felt deep in the front of your elbow. The pain is more pronounced when you try to grasp a particular object such as trying to turn a doorknob or unscrewing the lid from a jar. Wherever the pain is, treatment usually consists of using ice to reduce the inflammation, massage and rest. Depending on the severity of an elbow injury, you might need to take between 2 and 6 weeks off climbing and slowly rehabilitate the injury by doing gentle stretching exercises but you should stop if you feel any kind of pain as that indicates that the injury has not healed sufficiently as yet.


Wrists are also prone to suffering from tendonitis and are one of the most common areas to suffer from injury amongst rock climbers given the immense pressure that is often put on this area. Sprains can also occur and climbers’ wrists can also result in suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Rest, ice compression and other anti-inflammatory medications are the usual responses to these types of injuries.


Finger injuries are, naturally, also very common for the same stress reasons as those placed upon the wrist. Ruptures can often occur in the tendons. These can be partial or complete and many climbers who have experienced a complete rupture of a tendon in their fingers have often commented that they could hear a pop or cracking sound as the injury occurred. Finger ligaments can also result in sprains. Fingers suffer from being a part of the body which are not that good at receiving blood flow and climbers who have injured their fingers will often administer immediate treatment by immersing their fingers in alternating bowls of iced and hot water.

Most of these more common types of injury will usually take up to between 2 and 8 weeks to get over but there are always going to be exceptions to this based on the severity of the injuries and how different people respond to the treatment. And these are just some of the more typical injuries resulting from climbing. The key thing if you suffer any kind of injury whilst climbing is to seek out the advice of an orthopaedic specialist or another kind of medical specialist if the injury is unrelated to muscles, joints and tendons etc.