Rock Climbing
Reaching New Heights

What started as a traditional form of adventure climbing has grown into a popular recreational and competitive activity. Rock climbing is the latest extreme sport to spread across America. It has been estimated that over 300,000 people in the U.S. have climbed a rock wall. However, with an increase in participation comes an increase in injuries. As a result, there has been a move to bring more awareness of the risks involved to beginning, novice, and expert climbers in the hope of preventing injuries.

The demands of rock climbing
Rock climbing is a very vigorous and physically demanding sport. You must have tremendous strength, particularly in the back, shoulders, hips, and arms. Of course, some climbers may not realize that being mentally prepared is just as important. For instance, you must have full body awareness, such as knowing where your feet and hands are before you make your next move. Also, you must be able to focus on recurring challenges while trying to maintain your balance and get into the perfect position for your next move.

Types of injuries sustained in rock climbing
Of major concern to those new to rock climbing is the risk of injury, especially to the fingers and hands. The frequency and severity of rock-climbing injuries depend on many variables, such as the experience and condition of the climber, the type of climbing, the preventive measures taken, and the treatment received after an injury. The following are the most common injuries in rock climbing:

Are these injuries preventable?
As with any sport, overuse of one body part can result in injury. Taking preventive steps, such as using climbing techniques that do not put too much pressure on one hand or finger at one time, can play a big part in avoiding injuries. Many indoor climbing facilities use large hand-holds, allowing you to maintain a good grip while putting less pressure on your fingers. Climbers should take breaks between climbs to rest and recover.

There are many technical terms and techniques associated with rock climbing that must be mastered before trying even the easiest of climbs. Beginning climbers should start off with basic climbs, such as bouldering (climbing horizontally just a few feet off the ground), and work their way to more advanced climbing, such as multipitch lead climbing (climbing on rock faces that reach up to hundreds of feet in height). A good way to master these climbs is through practice at your local indoor climbing facility. There you will find a variety of walls for different skill levels, with the hand-holds closer together on the beginning walls and spread out on the more difficult walls, offering climbers a greater challenge.

Benefits of rock climbing
Rock climbing can be done by most age groups and serves as a tremendous total body workout, involving most of the major muscle groups. It can help you build confidence, develop problem-solving skills, and sharpen your mental focus. Equipment costs for a beginning climber are around $300.00. You can learn more about this sport by contacting your local indoor climbing center or an experienced outdoor recreational guide.

Dayton Preston
Columbus, Georgia

"We just think it's an important aspect to a climber's overall understanding of the sport and what to expect when you enter into the sport."

-Kathryn Dodgen
The Challenge Rock Climbing School - Atlanta, Georgia