Have you ever experienced elbow pain during or after a climb? This pain is most likely your body’s way of telling you that something is off in your climbing stability and technique.
Elbow pain, in the climbing scenario, usually occurs as a result of inflammation around muscle tendons caused by overuse of forearm muscles that attach at the elbow and from an imbalance of muscle stability at the shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints. Scapular (shoulder blade) muscles are where climbers should be getting most of their stability in the upper extremity. Reasons why climbers may not be using their scapular muscles to maximum benefit include: general shoulder pain from an old injury or surgery, lack of awareness of how to properly activate and position the scapula, neglect of working out the rotator cuff muscles properly, and poor range of motion overhead, behind and across the body. With these presentations, the forearm muscles that control your climbing grip will end up doing too much work trying to balance the body on difficult holds and trying to pull up too much of the body’s weight. Falling into the habit of overloading the forearm muscles may lead to a painful situation of medial or lateral epicondylitis, or more commonly referred to as “tennis elbow” or “golfer’s elbow.” Having an evaluation by a physical therapist is a great way to figure out the source of your elbow pain and be treated accordingly. Physical therapy is a good way to create a long term solution for your pain versus relying on the common quick fixes like KT tape and general massage. More often than not the muscle imbalances need to be addressed to keep your pain away, to keep climbing sessions longer and more frequent, and have quicker recovery time.
A physical therapist’s goal is to keep you participating in the activities you love or to get you back to the things you have had to stop due to pain or injury. If you are having pain, or have had to stop or modify your activity, it is probably time to have your painful body part evaluated. Head on over to a Physical Therapist who specializes in manual therapy and we will start you on a path to better climbing! Our goal is to keep you active at Sportrock while you recover. And best of all increase your climbing ability while preventing future injury as well.