Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Am I at Risk for a Shoulder Injury from Climbing?

February 15, 2022

The best predictor of whether or not you will get an injury from rock climbing is whether or not you’ve had a climbing injury previously. Having an injury to a particular body region makes you 6 times more likely to have another injury to that region. So the best way to avoid injuries from climbing is to be able to predict who will develop pain so we can prevent these injuries before they arise.

Researchers looked to develop a test that could predict who will and will not get a future injury to their shoulder. To do this they developed the Upper Extremity Closed Kinetic Chain Test. This test is easy to set up and perform on your own and can be done almost anywhere. Try this evidence-based test for yourself to see if you are at risk of developing a shoulder injury. Then try the exercises in the video below to improve your shoulder strength and stability to help prevent your shoulder injury.

The supplies you need are: two pieces of tape, a tape measure, and a stopwatch

How to perform the test:

1.     Place two pieces of tape 36 inches apart from each other on the floor.

2.     Hold yourself in a push up position with one hand on either piece of tape. Females have the option to perform the test on their knees (this is how the test was originally designed).

3.     When the timer starts, tap one hand on top of the other back and forth as fast as possible. Count how many time you can perform this in 15 seconds. Give yourself 3 trials, separated by 90 seconds.

Researchers found that a score below 21 taps in 15 seconds was correlated with an increased risk of injury to the shoulder.

Shoulder injuries in climbers are very common, but with the ability to predict who is more likely to get a shoulder injury we can take measures to prevent these injuries before they happen. If you scored below 21 taps or you simply want to improve your shoulder strength and stability, try the exercises in the video below.

If you have further questions or want further injury prevention screening for your shoulder injury, schedule an appointment with one of the rock climbing specialists at Mend in Boulder, Colorado. Our doctors of physical therapy have over 12 years of experience treating all types of climbers.