Climbing injuries come in all shapes and sizes, from cuts and bruises, to tendon, ligament and muscle injuries to broken bones and even death. Warming up appropriately and controlling the environment you are in are the two major preventative options. All too often you see climbers walking to the bottom of the crag and jumping straight on a hard route. Muscles need to be warmed up as does the brain. If the walk in is quite long and vigorous then all that is necessary are mobility exercises and dynamic stretching of the major muscle groups ( see blog ‘Warm-up Climbing Exercises), then start on an easy route and gradually work through the grades to your appropriate level.
Ensure you have the appropriate equipment; that ropes are the correct length for lowering off, and wear a helmet to protect from loose rock or contact with the rock in a fall.
Choose an appropriate route that is within your ability, especially on trad routes where if you get into difficulty you have to rely on your own placed gear if you fall which may be marginal or if a bold route – non existent!
Keep yourself hydrated, water is best as the body doesn’t have to waste energy trying to process it, and eat little and often – complex and simple carbohydrates – natural sugars, fruit, nuts and seeds. Eating a large lunch will slow the body down and waste much needed energy digesting everything.
Pushing yourself on well protected/bolted sport routes is a good way to get fit and strong, but if you don’t warm-up appropriately or push too hard it can lead to permanent injury. Listen to your body, you can feel when something is taking too much strain. Shoulder injuries are the most common.
Try and cool down before you leave the crag, by doing an easy climb followed by gentle static stretching.
And finally, make sure you have rest days to give your body chance to recover, muscle tears to heal and glycogen stores to recoup.
If injured you must rest and if serious seek medical attention.