Bouldering Injury Prevention by: Alex Beale
1. Before Bouldering: Warm-Up Properly
A quick and easy warm-up (whether you’re climbing inside or outside) can loosen you up and help prevent sidelining injuries. Dynamic stretching of the arms, legs, and fingers and some light climbing make the foundation of a good climbing warm-up.
Here are some simple exercises you can mix and match to make your own warm-up:
- Jumping jacks
- Arm circles
- Wrist circles
- Leg swings (side-to-side, front-to-back)
- Ankle circles
- Light, controlled climbing
2. While Bouldering: Land Correctly
Believe it or not, there is some technique to landing on the pad after a fall. A poor fall can cause you to roll an ankle or worse. What’s more, if you don’t learn how to land correctly, the accumulation of thousands of landings over the course of your bouldering career can take its toll on your hips and knees.
Here are three simple tips to improve your landings:
- Ensure you have a clean landing zone. If inside, be aware of where other climbers are on the wall. If outside, be aware of where the shoddy landing zones are and try to plan your landing accordingly. Obviously, many falls are unintentional and you can’t aim for a specific location mid-fall. However, placing pads in the right places beforehand or waiting until someone else completes their problem can reduce the risk of a bad landing.
- Dissipate impact. High falls can be particularly risky, even when landing on pads. Dissipate the impact on your ankles, knees, and hips by, upon landing, rolling onto your bottom and onto your back. I recommend practicing this technique a handful of times in order to get the hang of it.
- Downclimb when possible. If possible, downclimb to a more reasonable height or traverse to a better landing zone before falling.
3. After Bouldering: Recover Properly
- Rest enough. Many climbers don’t rest enough. Bouldering is a taxing sport, and your body needs enough time to recover. Respect rest days and you’ll limit your chances of developing an overuse injury. You might hear about climbers like Adam Ondra or Alex Puccio climbing six days per week, but understand how long it took their bodies to be able to endure that kind of training schedule. It doesn’t happen overnight.
- Consider antagonist training. Bouldering mostly works the agonist, or pulling, muscles. It does little to develop the antagonist, or pushing, muscles. Overdeveloping one set of muscles relative to the other can cause your body to become imbalanced and increase your chances of injury. Even simple antagonist training such as push-ups can be a good start to developing those antagonist muscles and keeping your body in balance.
Check out 99boulders.com for more training tips!
Climb on xx