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5 Most Common Climbing Injuries

5 Most Common Climbing Injuries

Table of Contents


What are the most common climbing injuries?

  1. Skin Abrasions and Cuts
  2. Tendonitis
  3. Finger Pulley Injuries
  4. Rotator Cuff Injuries
  5. Shoulder Subluxation

1. Skin Abrasions and Cuts

While this is the most common injury by far, the seriousness of it is not as such. Climbing is an extremely demanding sport for your skin. Not only as a climber are you susceptible to cuts from the rock itself, but many climbers experience flappers (when a large chunk of skin rips off from friction) and many other forms of abrasions and irritation to the skin. While all rock is hard, some rock additionally is much sharper than others and causes climbers to incur more skin injuries than normal. For crack climbers, these abrasions will usually be all over their hands and body. Letting these areas heal is the only way to rid yourself of the pain for these.

2. Tendonitis

Tendonitis, while sometimes only being very mild, is one of the most common injuries that a climber will experience. Tendonitis is caused by pulling on the same tendons and muscles repetitively which causes swelling in the area. Not only can you have this on any tendon in the body, but for climbers, there are specific muscles that get used more frequently.

These most commonly occur in climbers in the shoulders, elbows, and the forearms. Another common area is in the hand and fingers especially for climbers. Tendonitis, while being the most common, can also be one of the most serious. Without proper care, tendonitis can continue to plague a climber for a long time and can require surgery if left unattended.

3. Finger Pulley Injuries

Finger pulley injuries are not only one of the most common forms of climbing injuries, but are also very unique to climbing. A finger pulley tear happens when a climber overloads their fingers and the tendons tear. This can commonly happen while doing large, dynamic moves, or by gripping too hard. The all time most common finger pulley injury is the A2 pulley strain. This injury is commonly found in the ring or middle finger and represents the first finger segment or the one closest to the hand. These injuries can take a very long time to heal depending on the degree of the injury ranging from a few weeks to a few years without climbing.

4. Rotator Cuff Injuries

Another extremely common injury is called a rotator cuff injury. The four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis) are there to provide support for the shoulder joint and to keep it in place. When one of these is compromised, it can cause a lot of pain for the athlete. For many other injuries of this kind, the treatment can vary based on the degree and location of the tear. Some may require surgery and require a long time before returning to climbing. Climbers specifically, who spend much of their time with their shoulders above their head, are more susceptible to this issue.

5. Shoulder Subluxation

Shoulder subluxation is a very painful injury. This can happen when a climber extends the shoulder too far forward and causes a partial dislocation of the joint. This can happen to climbers specifically for beginners if they fall and try to catch themselves on another hold. The causes of this are a fall onto an outstretched arm, a direct hit to your shoulder, or having your arm forced in an awkward position. Climbers are often forcing their arms in awkward positions and that can cause serious shoulder subluxation. Similar to any climbing injury, the best thing to do is take ice and rest the affected area.