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Indoor climbing considered safer than soccer

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A recent study found that indoor rock climbing has a low risk of injury and is 10 times safer than soccer. The study was published by the quarterly medical journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine (PDF) by the Wilderness Medical Society.

From the scotsman.com,

The study by German researchers was based on the rates and types of injury at the 2005 World Championships in rock climbing in Munich, Germany, which involved almost 500 climbers from 55 countries.

The championships had an injury rate of 3.1 per 1,000 hours compared to adult male national soccer competitions where players face an injury rate of 30.3 per 1,000 hours.

Over the course of the competition’s events that totaled 520 climbing days, only three of 18 medical problems were treated as significant injuries, including a broken ankle, back sprain and knee sprain, while the majority of the problems were just bruises.

An interesting study for the average person who thinks climbing is more risky than other sports, but what I would be more interested in reading is a study that compares the injury rate within the various climbing disciplines. Personally, I find I get more injuries when climbing indoors (especially bouldering) compared to climbing outside. With bouldering, I think the reason is obvious. If you’re bouldering outside, all the problems are spread out across more time, usually the whole day. When bouldering indoors, a climber typically compress the same amount of problems (or more) into a 2 hour session. This simply stresses the body much more.

joost.climbing.nl also has some additional reporting on this study.

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4 Comments

  1. Interesting stats as I do both, play footie and climb.

    I tend to have a range of injuries at any given time owing to the various sports I do. My current is a a strained flexor tendon which I got through bouldering at an indoor climbing gym. As for climbing outside, I’m alot more careful on trad routes than I would be indoors, where taking risks or attempting grades on the same par as indoor grades simply isnt an option.

    With football injuries have tended to be frequent and mainly consists of minor bruises. I play on astro turf so no studs here and it’s women’s 5-a-side…

    I think injuries depend on how far you are willing/or feel it’s safe to push depending on where, how and what you’re type of sport doing. Indoor gym climbing tends to offer a sense of safety that you can push yourself harder and fit more in, but I’ve seen more broken ankles at the wall than outside.

    Then don’t forget the ever persistent and crippling RSI from being in an office too much 😉

    nice blog btw.

  2. Thanks. I think the problem with this study though is “reported” and “treated” injuries. When playing organized soccer, injuries I had were regularly treated and reported. I unfortunately get injured often while climbing in indoor gyms, but they are the common finger tendon overuse injuries and tweaks. Most climbers don’t go to the doctor for these because the only remedy is rest. But for more major injuries like broken bones, soccer definitely wins. It’s an interesting report nonetheless.

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