Dr. Yasser El-Sheikh has been climbing for over 25 years and he’s also a surgeon, with a focus in hand, wrist and peripheral nerve surgery, cosmetic surgery, and sport climbing medicine. Over the years, he has witnessed the rapid growth and change in demographic of the climbing scene, along with a heightened interest in training, changes to “the injury landscape,” treatments and preventative knowledge required.

From this unique vantage point, El-Sheikh saw the importance of a collaboration between the climbing and medical communities, as well as a personal opportunity to give back to a community that he loves: “There is a growing need for education in the fields of climbing performance and health, both for lay climbers and climbing health professionals,” says El-Sheikh.

El-Sheikh thus established Climbing Medicine Canada and became the founder and director of The Canadian Climbing Medicine Symposium, first held in 2017 in Toronto, ON. In light of the success of the inaugural event, as well as the increasing interest in this field, Canada’s Climbing Medicine Symposium is happening again, this time on the west coast, in Squamish, BC, August 12-14, 2019. To register, go to www.climbingmedicine.com

Group photo from the first Canadian Climbing Medicine Symposium in Toronto, 2017. Photo by Will Johnson

The symposium takes place over three days and includes talks by experts in the field, hands-on workshops, discussions and outdoor activities (in the outdoor recreation capitol of Canada). The Keynote speakers are: Dr. Yasser El-Sheikh, Eric Hörst, Dr. Isabelle Schoeffl, Dr. Volker Schoeffl, and Dr. Herb Von Schroeder. Tickets include daily breakfast, lunch and refreshments, your choice of two books from the speakers, an event T-shirt and closing dinner.

To be clear, you do not have to be in the medical field to attend the symposium. This event will be of interest to a wide variety of people – climbers, coaches, researchers, health professionals, and more – with a broad range of topics covered, from treatment and prevention of sport climbing injuries, psychosocial and cultural aspects of sport climbing to training for climbing and climbing performance.

The goal of our symposium is to bring together the world’s leading experts in climbing medicine, health and performance, in order to share our knowledge with the climbing community at large. We will be providing a forum for education, collaboration and networking amongst all participants in the climbing community. – Dr. Yasser El-Sheikh

Workshop at the first Symposium in Toronto, 2017. Photo by Will Johnson

An Interview with Dr. Yasser “Rock Doc” El-Sheikh

1. The first Canadian climbing medicine symposium was in 2017 in Toronto. What signalled the need for this event?

YE: Climbing has seen an explosion in popularity in recent years. The sport is far more accessible now, particularly due to the prevalence of climbing gyms in large urban centres. With more people entering the sport, and with people starting younger and continuing into older age, the incidence and breadth of climbing-related injuries is increasing.

YE: […] Before our inaugural symposium in 2017, there had never been a conference in North America dedicated to climbing medicine and performance. We were excited to be the first to offer such a unique and much needed conference, and look forward to our second symposium, scheduled for this August 2019 in Squamish, BC.

2. Have you made any changes to the structure or content of this year’s symposium?

YE: Yes, definitely. We’ve made a few changes based on feedback and what we learned from our inaugural symposium in 2017. Firstly, we made sure to find a venue that is big enough to accommodate our growing audience. We unfortunately had to turn many people away last time because we reached capacity of our venue very early in the registration period. This summer we hope to have room to host everyone who is interested in joining us.

3. Who are the intended attendees of this event? Is it primarily for health care practitioners?

YE: The symposium is multidisciplinary by design, and open to anyone interested in climbing medicine, health and performance. Climbing health professionals, researchers, trainers, coaches, climbing industry workers, climbers and parents are all welcome to attend.

4. Do participants generally attend all the talks, discussions and practical sessions or choose those of interest/relevance to them (like at an academic conference)?

YE: Registration is for the full three days of the symposium, and people generally attend most or all of the talks. We avoided scheduling concurrent sessions, so that all participants can attend every lecture and workshop in the program.

5. Are there presenters other than the keynote speakers?

YE: Yes, in addition to our keynote speakers, there will be other participants presenting on various topics related to climbing medicine. We will be promoting our speakers on our website and on social media in the months to come.

YE: We are currently accepting applications for speakers, and will choose from these before finalizing the program. If you are interested in speaking at the symposium, you can send me a proposal (250 words or less) to info@climbingmedicine.com.

Details in the Call for Abstracts. (N.B. the application deadline is April 30, 2019)

6. What are some of the topics that will be covered this year?

YE: We have once again invited a panel of world-renowned experts in the fields of climbing medicine and exercise science, who are sure to deliver an exciting program over the planned three-day event.

Some of the scheduled topics for this year include:

  • Injury statistics in sport climbers (V. Schoeffl)
  • Differential Diagnosis of Finger Pain (V. Schoeffl)
  • Shoulder injuries in climbers (V. Schoeffl)
  • Lower Extremity Injuries in Climbers (V. Schoeffl)
  • How to Examine and Treat a Climber’s Injured Wrist (H. Von Schroeder)
  • Biomechanics and Anatomy of the Finger: Differences between adults and adolescents (I. Schoeffl)
  • Climbing sports injuries of the upper and lower extremities
  • The Impact of Forearm Biomechanics on Wrist Stability (M. Buse)
  • Rehabilitation of Upper Extremity Injuries in Climbers: a Staged Approach (N. Tappin)
  • Clinical Neurodynamics: A Rock Climbing Case Study (J. Vagy)
  • The Child and Adolescent Climber: Working with athletes (I. Schoeffl)
  • Anorexia athletica: The 5.14 denial (I. Schoeffl)
  • Surgical treatment for finger epiphyseal stress fractures in adolescent climbers (Y. El-Sheikh)
  • Conceptual Model for Effective Training of Finger Strength and Rate of Force Development (E. Horst)
  • Training Modalities and Nutritional Interventions to Improve Tendon Health and Performance (E. Horst)
  • Training the Older Athlete: Strategies for Injury Prevention Trump Training for Performance (G. Banning)
  • And many more!

    The second Climbing Medicine Symposium @climbingmedicine is bound to be both enlightening and fun, and in a gorgeous part of the country to boot. Get your tickets today!

    Dr. Von Shroeder in Toronto, 2017. Photo by Will Johnson

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    Back by popular demand! @eric_horst will join us once again for the 2019 Canadian Climbing Medicine Symposium. Eric Hörst is an internationally renowned author, researcher, climbing coach and accomplished climber of 40 years. He is author of the best-selling @training4climbing which has, along with his seven other books, sold more than 360,000 copies worldwide. In December 2018, Hörst founded his latest venture PhysiVantage.com. Don't miss the opportunity to hear from Eric Hörst and get your training questions answered. Register for the Canadian Climbing Medicine Symposium today at climbingmedicine.com #climbing #trainingforclimbing #bouldering #tokyo2020 #climbingmedicine #speedclimbing #climbingtraining #climbingismypassion #erichörst #climb #outdoorclimbing #competitionclimbing

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