The pathologies of the young climbers

Here we are again with another article on vertical physiotherapy. In the previous articles, we have covered the various pathologies that affect many climbers. If in the scientific literature the climbing pathology is a subject that receives little attention, this issue in young climbers is a completely absent topic. The need however to build up a basic knowledge of the pathologies in young climbers is necessary given the amount of young people that are now getting involved in sport climbing. The body areas that are most involved in injuries to young people are undoubtedly similar to those of adults.

The particularity is that these areas of the body are injured in a completely different way to those of adults, in some cases making the particular damage only possible at a young age. The anatomical characteristics that make the injury unique in sport in young people is constituted by the growth plate cartilage. In fact, the weak link on the ladder of resistance to stress, is that in adults it is represented by the myotendinous junction or by the ligaments, and in young people this corresponds to the growth plate cartilage, because they are less resistant to the forces of torsion – distortion, compared to the bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles.

These injuries are certainly not debilitating, for this reason you get to both the diagnosis and the treatment late. In the presence of injury to the growth plate cartilages in the insertional areas, it is necessary to completely suspend the sporting activities, to allow the tissue to repair itself. The failure to recognise these problems can lead to significant unchangeable impairment over time. Consequently, the management and the preparation for young people must be accurate and visionary to avoid unpleasant injuries.

Overloading or exaggerating the stress on tissues undoubtedly enhances the athletic capacity in young people, but they find themselves in a position where they are much more exposed to injuries.

So, avoid, in the most absolute manner, overloading during exercises, the use of fingerboards, campus boards and instruments that work too specifically on a tissue that cannot support these loads. I find it useless, if not counterproductive, to obtain in a short period of time a considerable athletic capacity, without these factures being sustained by the same level of technical, tactical and coordinative capacity. Above all focus on these latter aspects, that protects the physical integrity of a young climber, but above all in the future it will give you the possibility to take advantage of 100 percent of your athletic physical capacity. If, in these delicate moments of growth, you are able to learn how to use your body, all the proposals for future training will be incorporated into a bag of movements that is already high developed.

We have to imagine the young athlete like a house that must be built, we cannot start work from the roof down (the physical aspect), we have to start from the foundations (the technical – coordinative capacity), if we want the house to remain standing.

Silvio Reffo