Climbing Injuries and Health

In a sport like climbing, it's not surprising that people get injured now and then. But many injuries, especially overuse injuries to tendons and muscles, can be prevented with proper training and other techniques. Our experts will show you how, along with in-depth articles on other climbing-related health topics, such as altitude sickness, nutrition, performance supplements, and more.
  • HPLowering

    Essential Skills: Safe Lowering

    Lowering a climbing partner is one of the most common situations that leads to injuries and rescues in Accidents in North American Mountaineering, the American Alpine Club’s annual analysis of climbing accidents.

  • OppAndOppHP

    Essential Skills: Opposite and Opposed

    Carabiners act as important connection points in climbing, and whether it’s between the rope and a bolt or you and the anchor, we trust our lives to these tiny pieces of metal. While non-locking biners are acceptable in many applications, certain connections are more critical (e.g., belay biners, clipping into the anchor) and require a gate that can be locked into a closed position, which keeps it from accidentally opening.

  • ProFuelHP

    Eat Like A Pro

    Food can make or break your ascent. Packing and carrying sustenance on a route is crucial, whether it’s on snow or rock. But it starts before that, too. The night before the climb, eat a nutrient-rich, carb-heavy dinner consisting of whole grains, beans, and fruits to store glycogen—your fuel source for climbing.

  • The Comeback: Recovering From Climbing Injuries

    Life would be great if we bounced back quickly to 100 percent after recovery. But the reality is that once you get back on the vertical horse, you are still in recovery. Comeback climbing takes patience and acceptance of your vulnerability. It takes stepping back to the grades you began at and working your way back up.

  • One-Legged-Pigeon-Pose-158

    Stretch and Strengthen

    Stretching is an often-overlooked aspect of the pre-climbing routine. The following stretches pull double duty; not only do they lengthen your muscles, tendons, and ligaments for the approach—therefore preventing injury—but they also provide more mobility and flexibility on the wall so you can climb smarter and stronger.

  • The Right Approach: Backcountry Preparation

    You learned to walk a long time ago. But add 60 pounds of rope, rack, food, and other gear, and you might feel like you need a refresher course. While the rewards of a long approach—soaring routes, solitude, and wildlife sightings—may offset the pain of a long slog, these posture, stretching, and packing guidelines will do more to limit your aches and fatigue. This may be just the preemptive strike you need to go a little farther.

  • survival7

    Improvise, Overcome: Survival in the Backcountry

    In the context of medical emergencies, the wilderness is defined as anywhere beyond an hour from definitive medical care. That includes nearly every climb featured in this issue. However, that doesn’t mean you need to pack an ambulance-worth of specialized equipment for an overnight trip. Bring a small first aid kit of items you can’t improvise (like an Ace bandage or ibuprofen, for example), and then learn creative ways to treat common injuries with what you’ve got. This primer is a starting point, but no replacement for wilderness–first aid training.

  • Lose Weight Safely

    As high-end sport climbing emerged in the 1980s, another climbing trend also surfaced—and no, we don’t mean the bright pink, tiger-print Lycra that littered the pages of Climbing mags of yesteryear. Body weight became a huge factor in the sport; some climbers were unhealthy about it and developed serious eating disorders. Here’s how to lose weight the right way.

  • How-to-Rappel-Clinics-660

    Rappelling: Learn the Basics of This Essential Technique

    The process of rappelling is simple in concept, but it can seem complicated in practice, especially at first. Mistakes are easy to make; accidents happen all the time—and they’re often fatal. Here’s the step-by-step process of rappelling plus some tips to prevent mistakes.

  • Climber's-Toe-Graphic-660

    Prevent Chronic Climber's Toe Pain

    Climbers are used to having sore little piggies, whether it’s from jamming them into cracks or cramming them into tight, high-performance shoes. But toe pain is more serious when it doesn’t disappear after a few hours, and it happens to a lot of climbers because of the way we use and abuse our feet. Chronic stiffness and swelling in the big toe joint is an early sign of osteoarthritis that could permanently cramp your climbing style.

  • Incorrect-Quickdraw-Setup-1

    Prevent Quickdraw Failure

    The death of 12-year-old Tito Traversa, an Italian who climbed multiple 5.14s, shocked the community in early July—not just because of the tragic loss of a young life, but also because of the almost unbelievable way it happened. While warming up at a crag in France, Traversa borrowed a set of quickdraws from another member of his group. Unbeknown to the young climber, the draws had been assembled incorrectly: On eight separate quickdraws, the biners had not been threaded through the sewn strength-rated loop in the end of the dogbone, but only through the rubber “string” used to keep clipping biners from flipping out of position. When Traversa weighted the rope, these draws failed, sending him into a ground fall that led to his death.

  • Figure 3

    Build an Anchor in Poor Rock

    Learning how to build an “anchor in-series” will not only give you a solid option for bad rock, but also offers numerous solutions if you run into any other tricky anchor scenarios.