Injury Prevention

As in any sport, rock climbers will inevitably suffer from their fair share of bumps and bruises but many common injuries like muscle strains and tears etc could be prevented if certain procedures were followed. Warming up before climbing, using ice and other means to treat injuries as soon as they occur are two of the easiest things to do with regards to climbing activity so here’s a rundown on the kinds of things you should be thinking of if you want to prevent typical injuries occurring in the first place and minor injuries becoming more severe.

Warming Up

Warming up before exerting your muscles in any form of physical exercise serves two main purposes. Firstly, it will protect your body from injury and it will also improve your physical performance by increasing body temperature. This prepares your muscular and cardiovascular systems in readiness for more vigorous exercise. There are several ways you can warm up. Aerobic activity, such as stretching exercises or light jogging will create an increase in your body’s core temperature or you may choose to warm up passively by taking a sauna or a hot bath. Although climbers will use their full range of muscles, they’ll also be in tune with which areas they’ve been prone to suffering from injury in the past due to lack of preparation so it’s likely that they’ll concentrate a bit more on ensuring that these specific muscle areas are fully warmed up.

Typical Warm Up Exercises For Climbers

These can include:

  • Light jogging or even jogging on the spot
  • Shoulder, hip, ankle and wrist circles
  • Fist clenches and finger stretches
  • Side and neck bends and leg swings
  • Lower body stretches especially aimed at hamstring areas, inside thighs, calves and quads

Reducing Impact Of An Injury

If you’ve already a suffered certain type of injury, there are ways you can minimise the damage and prevent it from becoming worse. Many climbers and other athletes are well versed in the use of the acronym known as ‘RICE’.

Rest – rest the affected area so that you do not cause further damage to it

Ice – apply ice to the injury using whatever cold items you can lay your hands on, e.g. a bag of frozen peas or ice cubes (but make sure any ice is wrapped in a tea towel or similar because it will cause ice burns if you apply it directly to the skin, a towel soaked in cold water also works

Compression – compress the injury by applying a bandage which helps to reduce swelling but don’t tie it too tight as that would restrict blood flow

Elevation – raise the injured limb above the height of your heart, which will mean lying down for a while if it’s your lower limb area which is affected. This will also help to keep swelling to a minimum.

These tips will help to prevent injuries occurring or, if they have occurred already, will lessen the problems caused by injury and aid the speeding up process of rehabilitation. If, however, you feel certain pains and twinges as you begin your series of warm up exercises, it’s likely that your body is telling you that it has suffered an injury or has still yet to recover from a previous one so, if that happens to you, you should put off any further climbing until those signs have disappeared. Rushing back into an activity from an injury too soon can cause further prolonged damage and if you’ve just noticed a certain pain or twinge, you should seek further medical advice from your GP.