Training issues and under 16s

Posted by Nick Colton on 15/06/2007
Warming up is very important

Audry Morrison (Westminster University) and Volker Schoffl (Bamberg, Germany) have published a paper in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reviewing the literature highlighting growth and development issues in young climbers.

The paper is called Review of the physiological responses to rock climbing in young climbers and was published by Br. J. Sports Med online 22 May 2007.

The paper is obviously an academic one and not easy to summarise.  However, it does draw some conclusions that the climbing world needs to take note of.  These include:

"Climbers under 16 should not undertake intensive finger strength training"

It is important to note that up to a point the international IFSC rules do already reflect this.  The full IFSC rule is:  "7.11 3 Each World Cup competition approved by the IFSC shall include categories for male and female competitors. Only competitors who are or will be at least 16 years of age in the year of the competition shall be eligible to compete in a World Cup competition".

  • The final growth spurt of a young person (generally around ages 14 - 15) is associated with an increased risk of injuries and fractures.
  • Up to age 12 the emphasis in training should be on climbing to increase volume and the diversity of climbing to improve fluency and techniques as opposed to increasing intensity.
  • Wearing excessively restrictive or unnaturally shaped climbing shoes is not recommended for growing feet (up to a minimum of 15 years) to help prevent foot injuries and deformities.
  • Growth charts (and some other sorts) should be kept (to identify growth spurts).
  • For health and performance, climbers should be educated in the importance of appropriate eating.
  • More research on young climbers is needed.

The BMC are in communication with the paper's authors and hope to be able to bring further information on these issues.

The relevant BMC committees will also be considering the conclusions and recommendations made in the paper.

Current BMC advice on these issues is contained here.  



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