Rock Climbing Elbow injuries with Wil Seto

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Remarkable Speaking. I'm here with Wil Seto of Insync Phsyio in Vancouver. We're talking about elbow injuries today. How you doing Wil? 

Wil: I'm doing well. Thanks. Yeah. I wanna talk about elbow injuries and elbow pain with rock climbing. 

Mark: So is there something different about elbow injuries from rock climbing?

Wil: Yeah, well, I think one of the things that we need to appreciate, and our team of physios see this quite often with rock climbers that come into our clinic, is that rock climbers actually bear a lot more load in their arms when they're climbing. In terms of like the repetitiveness of it and also the power and the nature of climbing itself is quite stressful on the forearms. And so there's typically two types of overuse injuries that can occur. And they're very synonymous to the ones that are probably familiar and that are out there and basically the first one is what I like to call it climbers elbow.

And so climbers elbow is when you get like an overuse, to the inside of the forearm muscles. So those are the forearm flex. And as you can tell with climbing, there's a lot of this sort of motion where you're using those for our muscles. And it's important to identify that and I think quite often, like when we're climbing, your arms really burn right out and you really wanna attune yourself to how your arms feel at the end of each climbing session. And even the next day. Because sometimes we have hard climbing sessions where we're either training or we're just climbing for fun or whatever, but then they start to feel sore and they're like, Oh yeah, that was because I climbed really hard. But if it's still hard and usually if you just touch, then you'll start to feel the pain in there and that's not necessarily normal. 

And the other rock climbing elbow injury that you can get is basically on the outside. So that's on the extensor part. So quite commonly, the inside one is called golfers elbow, that we all know about. And then the outside one is tennis elbow. And so the reason why both of these can happen with climbers is because when you're climbing there's a lot of like, so with the gripping, but then if there's also different types of holds that you're using. So if you're using holds that are larger and there's all of the antagonists, all those opposing movements. And so that can get overused. And we see this quite a bit. 

And I think the biggest thing with rock climbers in terms of preventing these from happening is really looking at warmups, doing a proper warmup. And really not jumping back into climbing if you've taken a lot of time off. Or if you're a beginner climber, trying to pace yourself at the beginning, because we see this a lot with beginner climbers, where they jump into the sport and they climb way too much.

And then part of that too is then learning how to recover. Understanding what recovery is because and once again we see this quite a bit too. We see either beginner climbers or climbers that have taken some time off and they jump right back into it and they don't start to incorporate recovery into their training, into their climbing sessions. So recovery means looking at doing things to, you know self release, mobilize and get things moving and really like allowing it to rest as well. 

If you have a climbing session in the morning, or you do a climbing session at night and you go to do your computer job, that's a lot of repetitive strain. So that means you have to take extra care and time to focus on mobilizing and getting things working in terms of the movement and blood flow and all that stuff after your climbing session.

Mark: If you're having elbow pain from your climbing sessions, don't just ignore it. Don't just tough it out. Get in and see some experts about what's going on to see if there's help that you can get to train properly, to recover properly, to make sure that you're not getting that repetitive stress type of injury that will affect your climbing for a long time. is where you can book for either the Vancouver office or North Burnaby. You can call them at (604) 566-9716 in Vancouver or in Burnaby (604) 298-4878. Thanks Wil. 

Wil: You bet. Thanks Mark.