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Best Life: New therapies being used to rehabilitate rock climbers after injuries

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 6:56 AM CST
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LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Almost ten million people lead, fist jam and free solo their way to the top of rocks, boulders and mountains. Rock climbing is seeing a surge in popularity, inspired by both an increased number of indoor gyms and young people searching for an extreme sport to challenge their bodies and minds.

Rock climbing even debuted in this year’s Olympic games. But as Ivanhoe reports, with any sport comes injuries. And now rock climbing has its own rehab.

Chase James climbs two to three times a week putting his entire body weight on his fingertips and toes.

“Just this part of my finger is on the rock,” showed James.

But with this unique sport comes unique injuries.

“All of a sudden, just bam, heard a pop. And I knew that I had popped a tendon in my hand,” continued James.

That’s one of the most common injuries for climbers.

Fellow climber and physical therapist, Jason Hooper, PT, DPT, OCS, SCS with UC San Diego Health, is using new therapies to get climbers back out on the rock wall faster.

“The rehab process traditionally can be a little too, like one dimensional, and not hit on the extreme levels of training that a climber might need,” explained Hooper.

This harness with pneumatic pressure allows injured climbers to mimic finger positions of climbers without their full body weight.

“With a push of a button, now I’ve just taken 30 pounds off. So, then when they go and hold on to that, that’s actually going to obviously make them more weightless and it’s going to take away that injury risk,” stated Hooper.

Another machine measures a person’s strength in a single joint and tracks improvement.

James spent three months rehabbing his fingers, strengthening his hands, and perfecting his form at home. Now, he’s back at it.

“This is a portable hang board. It allows you to warm up your fingers before you climb,” shared James, making sure he takes the time to warm up before heading up another wall.

We’ve seen how risky it is, but rock climbing is a great form of exercise. A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that rock climbing is as good for cardio as running an eight-minute mile. And experts say it can be an effective treatment for anxiety and depression. This is due to a heightened sense of self-esteem, accomplishment, and feeling of self-control.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.

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