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Five Injury Rehab Resources Every Climber Should Know

Two books, two YouTube channels, and one Instagram account to help you prevent and recover from climbing injuries

Climbing is taxing on the body. Unless you’re a super athlete, picking up a climbing injury every once in a while is almost guaranteed. When injuries do pop up, we need to know how to deal with them effectively and efficiently. Even better is preventing these injuries from happening in the first place by modifying or supplementing our training and climbing. To help you with this, here are five excellent resources for navigating the complicated world of injury prevention and recovery.

Of course, the best advice when injured is to consult a doctor and/or physiotherapist, ideally one knowledgeable about the unique strains climbing puts on the body. But these resources below can be a helpful supplement for understanding your injury and the journey back to climbing at your limit. They’re also a great tool for learning how to better bombproof your body from future injury.

1. Climb Injury-Free by Dr. Jared Vagy

This book by Jared Vagy, Doctor of Physical Therapy, details the best practices for rehabbing common climbing injuries in the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers. The book features the innovative “Rock Rehab Pyramid”, a step-by-step guide to gradually increasing the intensity of treatment and exercise of the injured body part. For each injury, Dr. Vagy covers unloading the injury using traction and taping, mobility exercises, strength exercises, and movement re-education.

2. Make or Break by Dave MacLeod

This book by climbing legend Dave MacLeod will change the way you think about climbing injuries. MacLeod, who has suffered many injuries himself throughout his long climbing career, helps the reader counterintuitively think of injuries as an opportunity along the road to becoming a better climber. MacLeod discusses complex concepts such as the ultimate causes of injuries, pain and how to read it, and injury psychology. He also details how to treat the causes and symptoms of common climbing injuries to the shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, and lower body.

3. Hooper’s Beta

Hooper’s Beta is one of the most comprehensive YouTube channels on climbing injury prevention and recovery. It’s run by Jason Hooper, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and features videos that make great use of visuals to explain anatomy. The channel also produces videos on strength workouts, hangboard protocols, and stretching routines. Here’s an example of one of their videos detailing the all-too-common hamstring injury:

4. The Climbing Doctor

The Climbing Doctor is a YouTube channel run by Dr. Jared Vagy, and serves as an excellent complement to his above-mentioned book, Climb Injury-Free. The channel breaks down the latest science for understanding and treating common climbing injuries. It also features an interview series where Dr. Vagy hosts conversations with prominent climbers, coaches, and physicians. Here’s an example of one of his videos showing how to rehab the dreaded pulley injury:

 

5. The Climb Clinic

The Climb Clinic is an Instagram account run by Kevin Cowell, Doctor of Physical Therapy. The account is full of short videos of Dr. Cowell demonstrating climbing-specific physiotherapy exercises. Dr. Cowell includes plenty of supplemental information in the post’s text, and he often makes innovative use of climbing gear such as stick clips and crash pads in performing many of his exercises. Here’s an example post of a lateral elbow wrist wrench demonstration: