Fingers took centre stage, and feet had a supporting role, as European experts gathered in Manchester at the third BMC Climbing Injury Symposium on 15-16 November. Tom Bond, BMC Climbing Wall Committee Chair reports.
There have been many developments in this fast-moving field of study since the BMC's last symposium in 2012. So this weekend's delegation consisting of climbing experts and a wide range of medical professionals including surgeons and physiotherapists, were keen to hear the most up-to-date evidence-based research.
The weekend kicked off with leading climbing injury expert Volker Schoffl discussing climbing injury epidemiology, comparing climbing injury rates against other sports. His other lectures over the weekend were on in-depth finger injuries and their diagnosis, shoulder injuries and lower limb injuries.
Isa Schoffl discussed epiphyseal plate injuries in junior rock climbers. She reported that out of 19 young rock climbers that presented to her over a 12 month period with gradual worsening finger pain in youngsters of puberty age, 18 were found to have epiphyseal plate fractures to the finger. The important thing to take from this is the BMC's advice for under 18s of no dynamic or feet-off campus boarding, as well as to focus on variation of climbing grips and movement training for those going through puberty. Over the weekend, Isa also discussed anorexia athletica in climbing and medical supervision of high ability junior climbers as well as carrying out a taping workshop alongside Volker.
David Brunton, in the absence of Professor Bull, reported new research (by Michael Yang) on falls arrest systems regarding harnesses and their use by children. This is an area which needs much more research.
Back to fingers....we were fortunate to have Andreas Schweizer, a well renowned researcher and hand specialist surgeon, to discuss bone and soft tissue adaptations in the fingers of climbers, and the fine line between adaptation and degenerative changes.
Stewart Watson presented his specialist method of rehabilitation following finger pulley injuries with the aid of a fingerboard, and the progression of this rehab.
As at the previous symposium, we had an excellent demonstration of ultrasound imaging techniques and diagnosis of finger tendon and pulley injuries by Professor Bhatti. I think every delegate must have had at least one digit scanned over the weekend!
Alison Bloxham and Richard Clarke, Kendal Climbing Wall physiotherapists, produced new research on the assessment of shoulder stability and indications for further injury, including practical demonstration.
Audry Morrison discussed supplementary dietary needs within climbing and how we should all gain the nutrition we need through a healthy and balanced diet.
Nick Bond briefly discussed the delicate subject of climbing whilst pregnant, and explored the forces involved in a leader fall, comparing them to those exerted during a car crash.
Last, but certainly not least, the weekend concluded with the dynamic duo of Robert Bradshaw-Hilditch and Gary Gibson looking at the supporting role of the feet and foot pathologies.
On the Saturday evening, after a day digesting all this new information, we all needed a well deserved rest. So we headed over for a boulder and some food at Rock Over Climbing Wall where delegates and speakers alike shared knowledge and climbing beta! BMC Ambassador Steve McClure was on hand for masterclass advice and finished the evening with an insightful and thought-provoking talk on his progression through his climbing career
All the delegates came away from the weekend with new contacts and networks, new research ideas and enthusiasm, and most of all, having had a fun and enjoyable weekend.
A short film is available on BMC TV (see below) and a compliation of tweets from throughout the weekend is available on Storify.
Thanks go GE Healthcare who lent us an ultrasound machine for the weekend and Petzl for providing gripmasters for all delegates.
A huge thanks to all our speakers who volunteered their time for free. Without their support this event could not take place.
The symposium ran over two days with evidence-based talks and workshops on climbing injuries in adult and young climbers; given by medical surgeons and doctors (specialising in hands, feet and shoulders) and specialists in radiology, podiatry, physiotherapy and nutrition. There was also a bouldering masterclass and a Saturday evening talk by the UK's leading climber Steve McClure.
Professor Volker Schoffl; paediatrician Isabelle Schoffl; hand surgeon Professor Andreas Schweizer; radiologists Professor Waqar Bhatti & Nick Bond; physiotherapists Alison Bloxham, Richard Clarke & Stewart Watson; podiatrists Gary Gibson & Robert Bradshaw-Hilditch; professional climber Steve McClure; nutritionist Audry Morrison; and more.
Watch a short film about the climbing injury symposium on BMC TV:
Watch presentation: Differential diagnosis of finger pain in sport climbers on BMC TV:
Watch presentation: Finger injury management on BMC TV:
Watch presentation: Shoulder injuries and slap tears in rock climbers on BMC TV: