Category Archives for "mountain"

How to Avoid High-Altitude Illnesses

Altitude training involves spending several weeks at a higher altitude (preferably over 2000 m or 8000 ft above sea level) to adapt the body physiologically. At elevations greater than 1200 m or 3950 ft, there is a decrease in atmospheric pressure which reduces the partial pressure of oxygen in inspired air. This causes decreased arterial oxygen levels and leads to increased ventilation and cardiac output, along with an elevation in heart rate. Performance will decrease for individuals that have not acclimatized to the change in pressure and are consequently exposed to a risk of high-altitude illnesses.


Acclimatization is the process of adapting to the decrease in oxygen concentration at a specific altitude. With acclimatization, there will be an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, bicarbonate excretion, respiratory frequency and volume along with a reduction in plasma volume. To compensate for the decreased arterial oxygen levels, erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone in the body, will trigger more red blood cell production to aid in oxygen delivery to the muscles. Training at high altitudes allow athletes to produce additional red blood cells that will provide a greater cardiovascular effect on performance at competitions held at lower elevations.

Acclimatization requires an altitude exposure of more than 1 week. Staged ascents promote gradual and partial acclimatization when an individual resides at a moderate elevation before ascending to a higher elevation to reduce the adverse consequences of rapid ascent. The first stage of ascending should be greater than 3 days at a moderate altitude. Remaining at a moderate altitude for 3 to 7 days will reduce the symptoms and risk of altitude sickness. However, a time period of 6 to 12 days will improve athletic performance.

High-Altitude Illnesses

High-altitude illnesses can occur at elevations above 2500 m. Mild altitude illness can occur between 2000 and 2500 m.

Acute mountain sickness ( is commonly experienced by individuals 6 to 12 hours after ascending to elevations above 2500 m with the prevalence and severity increasing with higher altitudes. Symptoms include: headaches, nausea, dizziness, and sleep disturbance. Some risk factors may be a lack of previous acclimatization, history of migraines, age of 46 and above, or being a female. Symptoms typically resolve within 1 to 2 days with rest or with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin. If symptoms become severe, descend immediately or use supplemental oxygen.

High-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) is a more severe form of altitude illness. Symptoms include: truncal ataxia (loss of body control), decreased consciousness, mild fever, and coma. If a headache is poorly responding to NSAIDs, then this is an indication of acute mountain sickness progressing to (HACE).

High-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) presents with a loss of stamina, dyspnea, dry cough, cyanosis (bluish skin), or pink, frothy sputum (phlegm). The risk of HAPE increases with increased altitude and faster ascents. HAPE occurs when fluid accumulates in the lungs due to rapid altitude ascent or ascent accompanied by strenuous exercise. Untreated HAPE may result in death approximately 50% of the time.


Prevention of high-altitude illnesses involve acclimatization before exposure, slow ascent, and appropriate pharmaceuticals for the corresponding illness. For mild AMS, take a rest day or descend 500 to 1000 m if there is no improvement in symptoms. For severe AMS, descend immediately and use supplemental oxygen at 2 to 4 L per minute. A hyperbaric may also be used for severe AMS. AMS may be treated with NSAIDs or acetazolamine. For severe AMS, use an appropriate dosage of dexamethasone.

Descend immediately if symptoms of HACE or HAPE are experienced. Use supplemental oxygen at 2 to 4 L per minute or a hyperbaric bag. Consider dexamethasone for HACE and nifedipine for HAPE. Consult a physician for more information on which drugs to use.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

5 Conditioning Exercises for Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is a fun, but challenging activity that requires strength, endurance, and skill. It is important to strengthen your arms and legs to move up near-vertical or overhanging rock. Having a strong core and torso will help keep the body balanced and up against the wall during the climb. Check out the following exercises below that to help condition your body before you tackle your next mountain or rock climbing wall.


1) Pull-ups 

These are an upper body, compound exercise that targets the biceps, latissimus dorsi, and upper back muscles. Use banded pull-ups if body-weight pull-ups are too difficult. Then progress to weighted pull-ups for 4 sets of 10 reps.

a. Hang from a pull-up bar and grasp the bar about shoulder-width apart with palms facing away from your face
b. Retract and adduct the scapula
c. Pull yourself up while bringing your elbows down to the floor until your chin passes the bar
d. Lower yourself all the way down, breathe, and repeat the pull-up

2) Staggered pushups

These engage your entire core as well as target your shoulder and chest muscles. Begin with regular pushups with hands side by side and slowly increase the difficulty by extending your one hand a few inches away from the other in various directions

a. Assume a prone position with your body straight, supported by your extended arms and your toes. Your hands should be outside of shoulder width but staggered, with one being higher than the other. This will be your starting position.
b. Initiate the movement by flexing the elbows, lowering your torso to the ground. Do not allow your hips to rise or to sag
c. Pause at the bottom of the motion, and then extend at the elbows to return to the starting position
d. At the completion of this set, reverse your hand position for the next round.

3) Finger hangs 

Can be performed on a door frame, rock rings, or pull-up bar simulate finger gripping on a rock climbing wall and helps to build hand and arm strength. Hang for five seconds, then rest for another five seconds. Repeat for a full minute. 

4) Weighted step ups 

These help condition your legs for power during a climb. Do 10 – 20 repetitions on each leg. Use a light to moderately heavy barbell or a dumbbell in each hand.

a. Stand facing a bench, step or plyometric box and place the ball of one foot up on the bench
b. Push up into full extension and then jump back to the floor, landing as softly as possible, returning to a squat position.

5) Cable rotations 

These target core strengthening and mobility that can help stabilize the body while moving the body in various positions across a rock wall.

a. Adjust the pulley handle to chest height. Step out and away from the weight. Feet are shoulder-width. Stand with a tight core and flat back. Push the handle out in front of you. Keep elbows slightly bent
b. Twist from the hips. Move arms across the body, achieving a full extension
c. Return to starting position
d. Once complete, do the same amount of sets/reps on the other side.

BONUS: Watch Claire (PT) from INSYNC PHYSIO demonstrate the “Ultimate Workout for Agility and Core” 
InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.