Preventing climbing injuries

Preventing climbing injuries

We take our cars for M.O.T. testing and we go for our dental check ups, but we are not so good at looking after our musculoskeletal system. When things go wrong and we can't go climbing, it can have a major impact on our general well-being. The best way to avoid this is to help prevent injuries in the first place.

There are a number of actions that you can take to help prevent injuries from occurring in the first instance, or stop them from escalating into major problems.


Warm up
Arm stretchWarm up

Warm muscles are able to respond to sudden changes in load and length more readily than cold muscles, so it is advisable to develop a routine to adequately increase the temperature in the appropriate muscles prior to activity. This is most easily done by doing light exercise to the point where you are lightly sweating (a temperature increase of approx one degree Celsius). Read Amanda's article for a more in-depth look at warming up and specific warm-up exercises.

Cool down

The purpose of the cool down is to return your body back to its normal resting balance as quickly and as smoothly as possible. After strenuous or prolonged muscle work this will require slow relaxing stretches in key areas to prevent long term shortening of muscles and loss of movement e.g. fixed flexion of the fingers.

Rest  

Rest is your body's recovery time, if the tissues have been suddenly overloaded or repeatedly loaded over a long period of time beyond the capability of that tissue it will show signs of stress, and if pushed further may well become an injury. This is the time when appropriate rest to allow the tissue to recover and adapt is most valuable, listening to your body can be a significant factor in injury prevention.
 
If three days of rest or alternative activity has not had the desired effect on your niggle, make an appointment to see a sports practitioner
RICE

This regime is generally used if there is any injury; the acronym stands for the principles of rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Rest the area to prevent further damage, potentially prolonging the rehabilitation process and time out needed.
Ice the affected area. Use ice cubes in bag, proprietary cold packs, a towel soaked in very cold water or a bag of frozen peas (mark the bag accordingly and don't use the peas for food!) Note: if using ice or items straight from the freezer, wrap them in a thin tea towel to prevent ice burns on the skin. The length of time you apply the ice will be dependant on the nature of the injury and the stage of healing. Consulting a sports specialist for advice would be appropriate.
Compression of the injured area is important to help control swelling and limit tissue damage.
Elevate the injured area is important to help the return of swelling to the main trunk.
Once the acute phase is past (the first 72 hours) it is important to exercise the area as advised by your sports practitioner and not to over exert it.

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