how to prolong one’s climbing life

Home Forum Training, training techniques how to prolong one’s climbing life

This topic contains 14 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Calvin 11 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #2303 Reply


    Hmm, see John’s posting: another one down with an injury.

    I’ve had my share of injuries (fingers, elbow, back) and have learned stuff. Without boring people silly, let me make it short and concise: if you are in your 20s and want to climb for the next 40 years; here is what to do:

    1. Do not crimp unless you have to (ie life threatening situation on lead, once in a while in a comp competition etc.) TRAIN ON SLOPERS, TAPE UP FOR COMPS.

    2. TAKE A BREAK OF SEVERAL WEEKS every year when you rest your fingers; eg go climb slabs. Note how footy stars and athletes train, noone hammers themselves continually.

    3. DO NOT BOULDER HARD TOO MUCH. This hammers the body excessively. Mix it up with adventure trad climbing. You may be lucky and have a body that takes a lot of abuse…or not.

    4. TRAIN OPPOSING MUSCLES, ie the muscles that don’t get used much during climbing such as triceps, rear delts, finger extensors. If you do not, your musculoskeletal system will develop in an unbalanced manner leading to misalignments – we are a long way removed from monkeys (some more than others).


    If you ignore the above: CRANK NOW – PAY LATER ! The climbing magazines often have “how to get back climbing quickly” articles but are very skinny on the debilitating effects of climbing: osteoarthritis and overuse injuries. You may tun out to have a body of HB Mattheson, but 95% chances you do not. Even John Long, who did hard 5.12 in the 70s in Yosemite and colud do one arm pullups – now can climb only 5.9 because of arthritis.

    Be careful, I hope this helps people’s longevity. Don’t take my word for it, there is information there if you look.

    #2304 Reply


    Hi Ross,

    Howd you do your back? Ive been off for the past week with upperback muscular pain and it looks like it may be another couple of weeks before i can get back into it. Though I always stretch before i climb. I realise youre not a doctor but any advice on how to avoid further back injury?

    #2305 Reply


    Hmm, backs…..whole books have been written about them (I have 2); which is a good thing as you may find that a visit to Dymocs or Angus&Robertson may pay off handsomely. I did mine in by weightlifting at uni (squats with 120 kg were a bit silly, in retrospect) and sleeping on a Thermarest for 6 months straight while rock climbing full time – I have bought a proper inflatable mattress since. That’s my theory anyway. But there are many kinds of back ailments so my back experience may have nothing to do with you. Anyway the generic key to rehab is to find a good physio – they vary from completely useless to magicians; I can recommend Chris Perkin on 146 Salvado Road WA, WEMBLEY 6014 p: 08 9387 5489. This guy got me on the road after I had lower back surgery (open surgery, not keyhole) 4 years ago. I have climbed a few 24s since, so there is hope. I have never found a good chiropractor and my experience with the 3 I saw was dismal. I hope this helps.

    #2306 Reply


    Cheers for that Ross,

    Ive been reccomended to a chiro thats apparently really good so, fingers crossed. Ive heard of that physio too, hes got a pretty good reputation. have to see how the chiro goes

    #2307 Reply

    John Knight

    Our chiro is *very* good, won lots of awards, and u always kow he’s been there! Dr. Micheal French, Applecross Chiropractic Centre,

    871 Canning Highway, Applecross.

    9316 2833

    #2308 Reply


    if by now you are still seeing a chiropractor mabey try an ostiopath ,as with doctors and chiro’s they look at the localized approach an ostiopath looks at a holistic aproach getting the reasons for the pain and helping you to change your approach,i had migraine head aches for years caused by a car accident wiplash and proberbly belay neck,went to chiro on regular basis thinking that one day the headache would stop but never did,the day i was recomended to see an ostiopath i was sceptical about what i was told about them but one visit and i have never had a migraine since.

    a good one is busselton ostiopathic clinic it is worth the drive.

    hope this is useful.


    #2309 Reply


    Hi Climbers in your 20’s (and oldies like Ross):

    I have long suspected climbing is actually quite “hard” on ones back. Climbing has a lot of twisting and shear loading of the spine. Is there a physio on the group whom would care to comment?

    I have a suggestion for climbers w.r.t. preventing / managing back injuries that I think works: consider doing Pilates to strengthen the ab’s and lower back. For my particular injury it has helped substantially.

    For the injury free, an added bonus Pilates will help you climb better.

    #2310 Reply


    The same can said for yoga. Yoga and climbing are very complementary.

    #2311 Reply


    Hi All:

    I have an experience on this topic that I would like to share.

    On the topic of finger injuries there is point worth noting: if you take a break from “regular” climbing for a significant period (ie 1 or more years) you need to take time to strengthen tendons.

    During my 20’s I climbed a lot, and trained consistently. I was basically injury free (fingers) during this entire period.

    Then, I moved to a remote location for work, and didnt climb for a couple of years.

    At the end of this period I took up climbing again and started training at a low intensity and improved quickly.

    One day shortly after I was climbing and heard a loud snapping sound – the sound of a finger tendon tearing… hand suddenly became very weak but I somehow avoided the big ride.

    I was crimping.

    To cut a long story short I would like to emphasis the need for a slow and consistent training period for those getting back into climbing.

    #2312 Reply

    John Knight

    This happened to me after only a month off on a crimper I’d used a thousand times. I’m healing up and almost ready to get back into it, but as a fellow sufferer, take his advice!

    (my finger made more of a crunch sound than a snap though)

    #2313 Reply


    Taking things slow is the way to do it, that comment was spot on. Muscles get strong easily and quickly. Tendons strengthen a lot slower than muscles. The reason is that tendons have a much worse blood supply than muscles, so repair/growth is slow. Also – use tape: it takes strain off the finger ring pulleys by providing external support. And don’t crimp, this is a completely unnatural thing to do for your hand – we never crimp in real life, our fingers were not designed to do this.

    #2314 Reply


    Drifting through the message board, found this v.relevent, being a newby ( less than a year climbing). I agree with Dinah – yoga and climbing are totally complementary. Great for strengthening the back, and overall flexibility; stretchy muscle = stronger contraction, better shock absorption. Greater body awareness too. Ross is spot on with the training opposing muscles thing. Doing rear delts, compound rowing and tricep work has definitely stabilised my shoulders and back, allowing injury-free progress. Also, lower back work to balance those hard working abs. Finger tendons do take time to match the muscles – ouch! Tape up and minimal crimping for sure.

    #2315 Reply


    Spend the money and buy a book called “One Move Too Many”, I picked it up a while back from the Petzl dealer whilst hassled by a climbing induced elbow tweak. It’s fantastic reference on how to prolong your life in climbing with tips for when you’re healthy, an injury itself and the inevitable overuse syndromes. I use it as a sobering item when I’m just a little too keen on training.

    #2316 Reply


    Does anybody know about osteoarthritis due to climbing? I suspect I might be developing this problem. My middle and ring fingers swell everytime I climb on small holds. I do not feel pain, though. I’ve noticed finger stiffness and small bony enlargements at the swollen joints. Although blood test and x-rays didn’t show a single problem, I believe my problem is somehow connected to osteoarthritis. Does anybody know how to treat it? Is it possible to come back to training after treatment?

    #2317 Reply


    The last Rock I think had a report on a study showing no correlation between arthritis and climbing. Usually they say activity is good for arthritis, and injury is bad. Where climbing lies who knows. Though injury is given as things like broken bones. There are other causes of lumps on the fingers. I had a large lump on a forefinger joint. I borrowed a medical encyclopedia and hit the lump with it, very hard. It went away completely. Who says medical knowledge isn’t useful.

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