Whether you enjoy indoor climbing for sport or exercise, there is most likely (at least) one thing that you’d like to master: how to prevent climbing injuries. Staying active is important, but you can’t stay active if you’re hurt. We’ve put together a handful of tips that will allow you to stay safe, as well as continue to have fun.
Staying Safe during Indoor Climbing: Know Where It Hurts
So, you’re a climber? Depending on how long you’ve been involved with this activity, you may already be familiar with various tips to prevent injury. However, when it comes to safety measures, you can never be too prepared. Bouldering is a full body workout. As such, do not neglect any part that can be injured.
- Shoulders: dislocation or rotator cuff tears. At the first hint of shoulder pain, take a break away from the climbing walls.
- Fingers: your fingers are carrying your weight. Make sure you focus on strengthening each of those precious digits.
- Elbows: not just a weak part for golfers and tennis players. Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are common injuries for climbers too.
- Legs and arms: muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint capsules are at risk of getting hurt with every climb.
Tips to prevent climbing injuries
- First and foremost, you must always properly warm up before climbing. Do not skip this preparation step (or do so at your peril).
- It’s equally as important to know your own strengths and weaknesses. You may be excited to start climbing, but you don’t want to overdo it. Don’t try to go above and beyond your capabilities, as doing so could result in a range of injuries. And if you get hurt, then you won’t be able to climb until you heal.
- It’s necessary to rest in between climbing attempts. This safety tip is particularly vital for those who are new to bouldering. Your body won’t be familiar with the various types of movements, so don’t be afraid to take breaks.
- Sticking with what’s good for your body when indoor climbing, make sure to try different styles and setups. With various courses to climb, there is no valid reason to stick with one for too long. Attempt different climbs, different angles, and different holds.
- Avoid getting blisters on your hands by using skin balm. You may not think blisters are a serious injury, not as serious as breaking a bone or getting a concussion. However, if you do get blisters, you won’t be climbing, not for a while.
- Depending on how often you climb, you may find yourself suffering from tendonitis. Repeatedly pulling on your muscles can lead to inflamed tendons, which is painful. You’ll have to take a break from climbing, but you’ll also need to apply plenty of ice to your injured muscles – at least three times a day. To minimize the risks, go back to fitness basics: stretching and warming up is essential.
- Again, if you climb often, you may develop trigger-finger syndrome. During this process, your fingers will lock up, meaning a cyst has formed inside the flexor tendons in your finger. And though this syndrome will have to work itself out on its own, you’ll still be able to climb.
Have Fun with Climbing
Indoor climbing is meant to be fun, so make sure you’re enjoying yourself. Yet, while you’re taking part in this activity, remember to be cautious. Climbing can be just as dangerous as it is thrilling. Be smart, be aware, and most of all, be patient: the only way to get better and more experienced with climbing is to keep at it and never be discouraged. Practice makes perfect!