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Context

113KG male, lifting weights 4 times a week and aerobics cardio twice a week.

Recently started bouldering so technique is in its infancy.

Setting

Indoor bouldering twice a week after a the gym. I normally successfully tackle 14-16 beginner problems in 60 mins to 75 mins. I log everything and also rack up around 4-6 failures on intermediate problems.

Problem

A dull ache inside of the elbow crease extending to the top of the forearms and also the bottom of the tricep/bicep. Made worse on overhangs but lessens on slabs. During a session it can get quite bad but is gone within a few hours of leaving the wall.

Question

I know I am pretty heavy for climbing. How do I climb in a more efficient manner to prevent injuries, particularly upper body.

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    Alas, we aren't doctors so we cannot advise on medical issues. – John Feb 3 '17 at 9:11
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    This doesn't seem to be a case of injury prevention, but rather pain alleviation. If the injury has already happened, you should see a doctor, not ask people on the internet. – Alec Feb 3 '17 at 9:53
  • Most people on here are not qualified Nutritionists or Personal Trainers and that doesn't stop people with knowledge of industry giving advice. If the standard for advice is "Most be a professional in the field" then a lot of Stack Exchange will need closed down. If YOU personally cannot answer then simply skip the question. – Venture2099 Feb 3 '17 at 13:15
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    @Venture2099 - They are following site policy. Please don't abuse people for following the rules. We cannot see your technique, and we have no knowledge of your previous injuries, current status, etc. Anything we can offer would be a guess, that could make it worse just as much as it might make it better. Your best course is to get with a more experienced climber who can actually watch you climb. – JohnP Feb 6 '17 at 16:13
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    @Venture2099 - Passive aggressive rarely works. "Who abused someone? Can you point it out?" is in the same vein as "If YOU cannot answer simply skip", i.e. "This is an important question, and if you cannot see that or answer it because you're too dumb simply move on". Your edited question still boils down to "Hey, diagnose why I'm hurting" which nobody online can do. As you will note, 5 people voted to close your question as off topic. You have an answer that you have accepted, I'm not sure what more you would like out of a reopening? – JohnP Feb 6 '17 at 20:31
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Bouldering places a lot of strain on the ligaments and tendons of the arms and fingers, moreso than weight training alone. It becomes particularly evident when you realise that you're having to hold yourself in a static position on the wall, keeping your arms locked at particular angles instead of steadily working through the full range of motion.

Yes, you are quite heavy for a climber. At my heaviest, I think I was just under 110kg and climbing / bouldering several times a week. That means that you're going to be placing a lot of stress on your joints (particularly fingers, elbows and shoulders) and since tendons take longer to strengthen than muscles, things like pulley injuries and elbow / shoulder complaints are fairly common.

Chances are, the pain you're feeling is because of unfamiliarity of the complex movements involved in bouldering, and as you yourself allude to, technique issues probably meaning you're relying on your upper body strength a fair amount, particularly on overhangs.

The answer for this is basically time and practice. Assuming you're taking care of recovery and nutrition, your body should adapt to the demands you're placing on it.

If you want more specific recommendations, then I'd try and climb on different days to when you lift, or at least leave a decent amount of time between the two (i.e. climb in the morning before work, lift after, or vice versa).

Also, use your feet more. Don't try and power up overhangs, deliberately place your feet, turn your hips into the wall, use heel hooks to take the pressure off your arms and hold yourself in the wall, don't grip the holds as tightly, watch female climbers and see how they tackle problems that you find yourself powering up, move slowly and with control instead of dynoing from hold to hold.

Stretch your forearms before and after bouldering sessions, and get yourself some soft tissue work on your forearms. I've seen tight muscles and muscle knots in the forearms cause elbow issues for climbers before.

I've made a fair amount of assumptions there, but they're all based on several years of introducing new people, male and female, into climbing and bouldering and observing the most common mistakes people make.

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  • Much appreciated Dark Hippo. That all sounds like good advice; "watch female climbers and see how they tackle problems that you find yourself powering up, move slowly and with control instead of dynoing from hold to hold" << Especially this. I am dyno'ing a lot of moves. Ego I guess. Will def schedule in some note taking/watching rest periods at the wall. – Venture2099 Feb 6 '17 at 16:39
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    @Venture2099 No worries. My climbing / bouldering really took off after spending some time climbing with a guy who was a lot better than me. Despite him being lighter and stronger than I was, he twisted his hips into the wall where I would try and power up, I started mimicking him without really understanding why, and my climbing jumped a couple of grades in a month. – Dark Hippo Feb 7 '17 at 17:44

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