IFSC Climbing World Championships
By Kate Slater | 14 September 2018

From the 6th to the 16th of September, the IFSC Climbing World Championships (the biennial world championships for competition climbing) will be taking place in Innsbruck, Austria. This event determines the world champions in three disciplines of climbing: lead climbing, bouldering and speed climbing. With growing interest in this sport, we thought we would take a look at the different areas within the competition and review some of the most common injuries that these athletes face:

Types of Competition Climbing:

Lead climbing is a climbing technique used to ascend a route. This technique involves a lead climber attaching themselves to a length of elastic climbing rope and ascending a route while attaching protection to the face of the route and clipping into it. The lead climber will also have another person acting as a belayer. The belayer holds the rope in the event of a fall and pays out or takes up rope as the climber moves.

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is performed on small rock formations or artificial rock walls without the use of ropes or harnesses. While it can be done without any equipment, most climbers wear climbing shoes to secure footholds, chalk to keep their hands dry and provide a firmer grip and use bouldering mats to prevent injuries from falls.

Speed climbing is undertaken on rocks, walls and poles. Competition speed climbing, which takes place on an artificial climbing wall, is the main form of speed climbing. However, there are variations which take place outdoors. Time is everything. Climbers compete on the same route, side by side, and the first to the top wins

Climbing Injuries:

Climbers will tell you that scrapes and bruises are just part of the sport. However, you may also be surprised to know that injuries due to falls are relatively uncommon and the vast majority relate to the overuse of muscles in the fingers, arms and shoulders.

The 5 most common injuries are:

  • Subluxation
  • Rotator Cuff
  • Pulley Tears
  • Tendonitis
  • Trigger-Finger

Rotator Cuff Review:

Your rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that stabilise your shoulder joint and let you lift and rotate your arms. A partial tear is a common injury - often caused by repeating the same motion, or from a sudden jolt or trauma. It often presents as pain around the front, or across the lateral part of the shoulder. The pain often gets worse if you?re doing something where your arm is above your head.

Using Kinesio Tape can help to support the shoulder in a retracted position and make it feel more comfortable. For advice on application, we would first recommend visiting a trained Kinesio Taping therapist. Kinesio also have a shoulder pre-cut pack. Resting the muscle and physiotherapy will also improve the stability, strength and movement of the shoulder over time.


Serious rotator cuff injuries may require surgery, so ensure you visit a GP or specialist if you have continuing issues.

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