Lower Body Rock Climbing Injuries

In a previous blog post, we briefly discussed the origins of rock climbing and recovery from upper body injuries. While upper body injuries are more common with climbing, lower body injuries are a risk as well.

Hamstring injuries are a concern with heel hooking. Heel hooking involves putting a heel on a rock climbing feature to anchor the body in place and then push up the wall. The hamstring can be injured depending on fatigue level and the forces and angles put on the muscle. Recovery in physical therapy includes taping, icing, dry needling, and other hands-on therapeutic techniques. Building strength is important as well as awareness of position on the rock wall. When heel hooking, the closer the heel is to the rest of the body, the less strain there is on the muscle. The load can also be taken off the hamstring and transferred to the calf muscles by extending the foot instead of flexing the foot while in a heel hook.

Knee injuries are a more common occurrence with bouldering than with other types of climbing. With bouldering, the climbing wall is shorter. Thus, a harness and rope are not utilized, but thick padding is under the climb to cushion falls. Climbers need to be aware of their position in space while falling and try to land with their knees bent. Having the knees bent allows better shock absorption and less chance of injury to the knee. Building up strength in the muscles around the knee also helps protect the knee joint and improve shock absorption.

Climbers also need to be aware of the risk of a knee injury, such as meniscal tears, when the knee is twisted to an extreme. Drop knee and high step-up movements are risky when extreme hip rotation is paired with a locked knee position. Learning to pay attention to the position of the hip in space is important as well as strengthening the muscles that help with knee stability and minimize maximal twisting. At Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy your physical therapist or personal trainer can help create a strength program to strengthen and support the lower body and abdomen.

Whether you are working on injury recovery or are focused on injury prevention, physical therapy is a great option to give you confidence on the wall and send your project. Call 616.256.8679 or reach out to any one of our clinics to schedule an appointment.  Click Here to Schedule

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Katie Thomas, DPT