Thursday, March 06, 2008

Study: Climbing hurts

Half of the climbers in gyms and at crags have been injured bad enough in the past year that they had to take at least one day off. One third have chronic overuse injuries such as elbow and shoulder tendonitis. Over a quarter suffer an acute injury, such as a torn A2 pulley in a middle or ring finger, from pulling harder than their body could handle. Yet only 10% of the waylaying injuries came from a fall.

That's the result of a survey of over two hundred climbers in Britain that was published last December in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Titled "The epidemiology of rock climbing injuries," the authors also found that climbers are a stubborn lot when it comes to seeking medical attention. Only 11% went to a doctor and 18% to a physical therapist for treatment while 14% asked the advice of other climbers.
While half of all climbers bashing themselves up isn't a good thing, at least we aren't as bad as dancers at abusing our bodies. Another survey in Britain found that 80% of professional dancers had suffered an injury in the previous 12 months.
The study of dancers also found that 25% have had eating problems (anorexia and/or bulemia) and 10% were underweight to the point that it threatened their health. This question wasn't tackled in the climber survey but it's quite likely that eating disorders are nearly as common in the sport climbing and bouldering communities.
This study reinforces the danger of overdoing it in any sport. Overuse injuries are the ones most likely to take you out of action. But they are also the most easily prevented by getting sufficient rest, training underdeveloped muscles, and eating properly.

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