Climbing is becoming more and more popular with many towns now having indoor climbing walls so even when it’s too cold or wet to climb outside you can still climb regularly throughout the year. I am a climber myself and when I first started 10 years ago I found it very exciting and challenging but it was easy to over-do things in one session at the wall and end up straining my muscles and tendons especially in my neck and shoulders and running out of strength in my fingers and forearms! Over the years I have gradually learnt better climbing technique and have built up more strength and endurance. As well as being strong in the right muscles, it is important to rest and keep in good condition so that when you do climb you minimise the risk of injuries and can climb with confidence.
A common climbing injury is shoulder impingement when you experience a deep ache in the shoulder at rest and pain at the top or behind the shoulder joint when reaching or raising the arm. Because climbing involves a lot of pulling down and in with the arms, the opposing muscles used for pressing and lifting may become relatively weak causing muscle imbalances which can lead to problems with the arm bone (humerus) not moving correctly in the shoulder socket causing tendons to get pinched by the bony archway of the shoulder blade. Painful achy muscles quickly become tense and weaker. Poor posture can also lead to shoulder impingement and rotator cuff muscle tears if the shoulders are rounded (‘chicken winging’) the chest is concave, and the upper back and neck are stiff.
Another common climbing problem is elbow tendinopathy (golfer’s or tennis elbow). Many climbers will try to climb through the pain, exacerbating the problem until they can no longer climb. If you experience elbow pain then seek the help of a Soft Tissue Therapist and take appropriate action before climbing again. Early intervention could well prevent you having to miss several months of climbing.
Finger strains are also commonplace among climbers and very inconvenient! It is easy to neglect our fingers since we use them most of the time but there are ways to exercise them for building strength and flexibility to cope with the stresses and strains of climbing.
At Shropshire Massage, Heather will assess your posture and treat any climbing ‘niggles’ or injuries and advise on a programme of exercises to address muscle imbalances and get you back in shape to maintain better form for climbing. Regular massage and advanced Soft Tissue Therapy techniques will help maintain tension-free muscles which will contract better and allow more strength just when you need it on a tricky climbing move!