Top 5 tips from the BMC Climbing Injury Symposium

Posted by Peter Burnside on 12/12/2016
Training with an open-hand grip. Photo: Alex Messenger

From fragile fingers to popping pulleys, the BMC Climbing Injury Symposium 2016 was packed full of top tips and cutting edge knowledge. Here's our pick of the event's top five learning points.

1. Climbing is relatively safe!

This is not an excuse to go and start soloing everything, but, although climbers face a broad array of injuries, the risks are small when compared to many other activities.

Indoor sport climbing, for example, results in around 0.02 injuries per 1000 climbing hours. International rugby is at the other end of the scale, with up to 262.5 injuries per 1000 hours. 

WATCH: How to lead a trad route on BMC TV:

2. Young fingers are fragile

That's right, be extremely careful about letting your kids jump on the campus board.

Adolescent climbers have a unique injury profile – growth plate injuries of the finger should not be overlooked. Fracture of the growth plate or surrounding bone accounts for up to 90% of finger injuries in adolescent climbers. 

READ: The BMC's guidance on campus boarding

Paediatrician Isa Schöffl says: "Climbing with undiagnosed finger pain is not acceptable, especially if you are under 18."

3. Protect your pulleys

Pulleys are hands down the winners in finger injuries. They account for around 60% of finger injuries in adult climbers. But, while they are unquestionably the most common, there are around 30 other possible diagnoses to consider.

Professor of musculoskeletal radiology, Waqar Bhatti, explained that the best method to diagnose a finger injury is ultrasound.

4. Wonky shoulders

It's quite common to for climbers to have imbalances in their shoulder muscles. To help even them out and maintain optimal function, it's often useful to perform direction-specific exercises. You can add these into your warm-up routines or do them with your accessory exercises.

5. Climbing injury comebacks

There's hope if you're injured! And future injuries will be better recovered from if research into injury treatments continues to grow. 

It's been shown that Injured climbers aren't limited by their injuries and current treatments may allow climbers to regain their previous performance. There are many examples of climbers than have come back even stronger than before!

But, while it's possible to reattain your former strength, we must remember that the scope for development of treatments is vast. Further research is required to ensure optimum care for the next generation of climbers.

WATCH: Hazel Findlay: from shoulder operation to sending 8c on BMC TV


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