5 Most Common Rock Climbing Injuries and How to Prevent Them
Updated: Jan 20
When you love to climb, you want to be ready to climb rocks at any time.
Whether it’s a climbing gym date or your solo “me” time gym climb, avoiding injury helps you have fun and climb whenever the mood strikes. Some climbing injuries are more common than others. Here are the five most common rock climbing injuries and how you can prevent them.
1. Finger Injuries
The high rate of finger injuries in rock climbing comes from how much we depend on our fingers during a climb.
Finger pulley tears are some of the most common of finger injuries. You’ll know it when it happens.
You’ll feel pain and see swelling on the palm side of your finger. You won’t be able to hang onto the rock because you’ll have difficulty forming a fist. You might also hear a pop when the injury happens.
To prevent this injury, slowly build up your finger strength. Try hang boarding or climbing at moderate difficulty levels until you know you’re ready for more.
2. Shoulder Subluxation
Shoulder aches and pains come with rock climbing. But it’s important to know the difference between an ache and an injury.
Climbers who boulder are susceptible to serious shoulder injuries. With no ropes to absorb any weight or tension during your climb, the shoulders take on a lot of stress.
When shoulder subluxation happens, you’ll feel a sharp pain in the back of your shoulder. Stop climbing immediately and seek treatment.
Try stretching before a climb to prevent this injury. Incorporate yoga into your overall fitness routine to stretch and strengthen your shoulders.
Your tendons are under tremendous strain if you’re a regular climber. Tendonitis will develop over time and with repetitive movements.
To prevent serious injury, take a break from climbing when you feel a strain on the tendons of hands, elbows, or other areas of your body.
Prevent bouts of tendonitis with regular stretching and hand strengthening exercises.
4. Feet Cracks
Those tight shoes you wear for gripping rocks during your climb are terrible for your feet. You’ll experience dryness that leads to cracks in the skin of your feet.
When not in climbing shoes, moisturize your feet to help prevent cracks.
5. Cuts and Scrapes
Gripping and moving over rocks leaves your hands and body scraped and bruised.
There’s almost no way around a few cuts and scrapes from sharp rocks when you climb outdoors. Indoor climbing offers a less abrasive solution for your skin–although scrapes and bruises still happen indoors.