Passionate about preventing injuries and improving performance – What all climbers should know

    As the host site for the International Climbers’ Festival for the last 25 years, Lander sees climbers with a wide range of skills and injuries. The sport of rock climbing has grown, and despite the fact that most climbers take the necessary steps to train and prepare their bodies to perform at optimal levels, the injury rate has also grown. Even with rigorous training both over-use and trauma related injuries can occur. Once an injury does occur, and it can happen very quickly, it seems like the recovery can be long and, at times, insurmountable.

    Being based in Lander, Fremont Therapy Group works with a wide range of athletes and myriad of climbing-related injuries. As a Sports Certified Specialist and an Orthopedic Certified Specialist, Tom Davis, PT, DPT is passionate about the rehabilitation for his athletic patients and their progression to even higher pre-injury performance levels. He is also passionate about prevention, therefore he’s paired with Charlie Manganiello, SFG II at Elemental Gym to share a few injury prevention ideas and expand on the performance side of climbing, so you can continue the sport that you love without restrictions.

    In addition to being a certified strength coach, Charlie heads Elemental Gym’s strength program. Charlie works with athletes for strength and conditioning as well as climbing fitness.

    Tom recommends the following injury prevention techniques will serve the climbing population well, but they are applicable for most overhead sports.

    1. Rotator cuff muscles: These muscles help stabilize the shoulder during overhead movements which is a movement in almost every climbing move. Following two suggested exercises:
    Supine: Anterior shoulder control

    Side-lying: Posterior Cuff control

    2. Shoulder blade position: It is important for all overhead athletes to have correct mechanics of their blade while reaching high. This prevents excessive stress on the joints, muscles and ligaments.

    Side-lying scaption

    Pike push up

    3. Flexibility: While the shoulder should be strong and stable during elevated positions, it’s also essential to have enough mobility at the shoulder to move freely in all directions, so that you can reach for the next grab without putting your body at risk for injury.

    Sleeper Stretch

    Cross Body

    1. For performance improvement, Charlie Manganiello from Elemental Gym discusses a few topics that can take your climbing skills to the next level. Lifting the right weights and using the right principles not only can enhance your climbing in the short term but also helps you with your durability in the long term. Using the correct lifts helps your overall strength that is necessary for each movement, and helps the coordination between the shoulders, torso, and legs.
    2. Train the antagonist. Simply put, develop your push muscles. Most climbers do a great job with pull muscles, however most could use some strength training for their push muscles (triceps/pecs). If you develop more power in push muscles, this will help the pull muscles develop more strength as well to prevent a plateau in their function.
    3. Improve your work capacity: Specifically, this is the ability to handle more climbing and bigger days out at the crag without losing too much performance. To have more work capacity is to have the ability to climb more pitches in a day. So if you’re someone who likes long days in the alpine this will make for fun days without totally getting crushed or having to bail on the objective. The same goes for the weekend warrior who can only climb once a week and has to make the most of their one day out. Since the fingers can get taxed quickly and the skin can get sensitive after a long session, we improve work capacity through coupling a weight training session after a climbing session or the very next day. Just doing more climbing can lead to injury or poor performance.

    Visit for free articles on training and get better access to in-depth articles. If you want more, you can contact Tom at Fremont Therapy Group (332-5240) for a free consult or reach out to Charlie at the Elemental Climbing Gym (332-0480).

    We hope this information is helpful.

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