Summarizing Climbing Research on Technical Performance from 2018

Acknowledgments: A collaboration between Tallie Casucci, Kyle Trettin, and Taylor Reed is responsible for this work.  Without collaboration, the Beta Angel Project would not be able to keep up with the pace of climbing research.

Just a quick note: these summaries are written with the belief that science is iterative; constantly updating and improving. See something you think is in error, don’t understand, or just want to improve, contact us.

Without further ado, below are the summaries from the 60 rock climbing performance-related research papers identified from 2018. For more on the “approach” I used to identify these papers, see Beta Angel’s search strategy. They don’t include the 88 conference papers from the 2018 International Rock Climbing Research Association’s Chamonix Conference. For a summary of the conference, see my article on Rock and Ice.

2018 Research by the numbers

A quick graphic showing how the number of research papers per category has changed since 2017. Note: injury research crushed other categories so bad I had to exclude it. You know, for scale.

Research Summaries

Hanging ability in climbing: an approach by finger hangs on adjusted depth edges in advanced and elite sport climbers
Author: P. Bergua, J. Montero-Marin, AG Bruton, JA Casajus | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers tested 40 sport climbers using three tests: (1) the amount of time on a 14mm edge; (2) the smallest edge hung for 40 seconds; and (3) maximum weight for 5 seconds of hanging on the same edge as test #2. 69% of climbing performance was explained by the third test for elite (5.13c – 5.14c) climbers, which was double that of the best explanatory test for advanced (5.12a – 5.13b) climbers (the first test). The authors suggest endurance-oriented climbing tests may be more predictive at lower levels of climbing ability, while the ability to hang on smaller edges with greater force becomes even more predictive at higher levels. Beta-Angel note: in an interesting pilot study, the authors found they could “predict” the minimum edge size for test #2 by looking at scores for test #1: if the climbers hung for 40 seconds, then a 14mm edge was used for test 2, and for every 4 seconds less or more than 40, they would either reduce or increase the size of the hold by 1mm from 14mm (e.g. 28 seconds is 17mm, or 52 seconds is 11mm). Beta-Angel note2: this paper attempts to build from work done by Bourne et al (2011).
Reference: International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport 18(3), June 2018
Biomechanics > Finger Strength

The determination of finger flexor critical force in rock climbers
Author: D. Giles, JB Chidley, N. Taylor, O. Torr, J. Hadley, T. Randall, S. Fryer | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors studied the applicability of a new measurement tool called “critical force” in 11 climbers who climb roughly 7b – 8b+ (5.12b – 5.14a). The authors used a series of three measurements taken at 80%, 60%, and 45% of each climber’s maximum force (MVC calculated on a 20mm edge for 7 seconds) using a 7 second on, 3 second rest protocol until failure. These three measurements allowed the researchers to calculate “critical force” (the threshold for being able to sustain work at “a certain intensity” – see note) and W’ (the duration of sustainable work above the threshold). Beta-Angel note: The excellence of the “critical force” concept needs some explanation. It is best described in an article by Poole et al. (2016): it basically serves as an indicator of systemic fatigue during high-intensity exercise. The two concepts (CF and W’) show how long “severe” high-intensity exercise can be sustained. “Severe” intensity exercise is defined as a second threshold separating “heavy” and “severe” intensities and sits above the typical “lactate” threshold which separates “moderate” from “heavy” intensities. During severe intensity, oxygen consumption rises continuously to its maximum level, oxygen delivery limits the ability of cells to convert energy from nutrients, energy reserves near depletion, blood lactate increases to exhaustion, as well as other indicators of fatigue.
Reference: International Journal of Sports Phsyiology and Performance, December 2018
Biomechanics > Repeaters (intermittent contractions)

Behavioral Repertoire Influences the Rate and Nature of Learning in Climbing: Implications for Individualized Learning Design in Preparation for Extreme Sports Participation.
Author: D. Orth, K. Davids, JY Chow, E. Brymer, L. Seifert | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors ran a study to see whether: (1) climbers who have more complex movement also have longer periods of being immobile while on the wall (likely in order to stabilize a third measurement: the jerkiness of the hips); and (2) the rates of the different efficiency measurements (movement complexity, immobility-to-mobility, and hip jerkiness) would plateau at different rates. The authors found that movement complexity and immobility did not necessarily go together, possibly because the climbers were too “practiced” at the route. The three indicators of efficiency did get better at different rates: hip jerkiness and movement complexity plateaued (ceased getting better) after 7 sessions, while immobility-to-mobility plateaued after 9 sessions. Beta-Angel note: the most important part of this study, however, comes from an analysis of individual variation. The authors basically contend that learning is dependent less on labels like “beginner” and more on the specific-skills identified prior to practice. In this case, whether a climber knew of the skillset to turn their hip into the wall prior to the experiment predicted whether they would find continuous improvement (knew skill) or sudden improvement (did not know skill). Arguably a landmark study in climbing synthesizing the dynamic between effectiveness (learning new movement patterns) and efficiency (becoming “better” at the patterns we know) with significant potential to inform the conversation around measuring the impact of technical interventions.
Reference: Front Psychol. 2018 Jun 12;9:949.
Cognitive-Motor Learning > Learning

ACTN3 Genotype in Professional Sport Climbers.
Author: M. Ginszt, M. Michalak-Wojnowska, P. Gawda, M. Wojcierowska-Litwin, I. Korszeń-Pilecka, M. Kusztelak, R. Muda, AA Filip, and P. Majcher1| Year: 2018
Summary/Results: This is the first genetic study on rock climbers which we’re familiar with. The study notes both a distinction between boulderers and both lead climbers and controls in having two RR alleles (a genetic sequence which helps determine a physical trait and comes in sequences of two) of the alpha-actinin-3 (ACTN3) gene. This gene is normally associated with elite sprint and power athletes. Perhaps more interesting is that there was a significant difference between “elite” and “higher elite” boulderers in terms of the prevalence of the R allele. Beta-Angel note: of particular note is that while the researchers found that the “X” allele (non-functional form of the ACTN3 gene) were higher in lead climbers, it was not statistically significant. It is postulated by the literature review that X alleles are more likely to be found in aerobic endurance athletes, but this climbing-specific research suggests that the X allele may not be as important to lead climbers as the R allele is to Boulderers. In the past, biopsies of muscle fiber tendons have helped find a better match between elite athletes and sub-disciplines. The researchers suggest that this test could practically help a climber find a good match for their own sub-discipline within climbing.
Reference: J Strength Cond Res. 2018 May;32(5):1311-1315.
Biomechanics > Power

Affordance Realization in Climbing: Learning and Transfer.
Author: L. Seifert, D. Orth, B. Mantel, J. Boulanger, R. Hérault, M. Dicks | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors of this study studied the effect of learning across three different types of hold orientations: a horizontal-edge route, a vertical-edge route, and a horizontal-with-vertical edge route, and then tested for the transfer of that learning to a route which had a mix of hold orientations. Several indicators of learning occurred, specifically less exploratory grasping and an increased perception of hold-usability, suggesting that learning did occur. However, learning and transfer appeared dependent on the complexity of the route, with improvement coming primarily on the horizontal-edge route, and did not appear to transfer particularly well on the non-horizontal hold sections. Beta-Angel note: the authors suggest that more sessions (there were four “practice” sessions) OR more variability in hold placement (they were placed in sections) than was done in their study may create better transfer of learning.
Reference: Front Psychol. 2018 Jun 12;9:949.
Cognitive-Motor Learning > Learning

Reliability and Validity of Finger Strength and Endurance Measurements in Rock Climbing.
Author: ML Michailov, J. Baláš, SK Tanev, HS Andonov, J. Kodejška, L. Brown | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers studied the effect of fixing a climber’s arm during fingerboard tests for maximal strength by “fixing” the arm in a bend, and compared it to a straight-arm deadhang in 22 climbers. Both tests showed moderate to high association with climbing performance, but while fixing the arm is considered to provide more reliable results, not fixing the arm is recommended because it relates better to climbing. Beta-Angel note: we’re glad this study was finally done. It basically shows that there is a distinction in force levels between a fixed and non-fixed arm, suggesting climbers are able to “cheat” by emphasizing muscular power from other areas of the body (e.g. the arm or shoulder). However, it could be interesting to look into the variability of the extent to which some climbers can “cheat” vs. others. This knowledge could be used to more carefully customize training.
Reference: Res Q Exerc Sport. 2018 Jun;89(2):246-254.
Biomechanics > Finger Strength

Rock Climbing, Risk, and Recognition
Author: T. Langseth, Ø. Salvesen | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors argue that it is challenging to understand climbing perception of risk without understanding how climbers perceive and recognize one another’s accomplishments – the social dynamic. Central to the author’s argument is that (1) climber’s do actually value risk in spite of what they report, and (2) they offer up a model suggesting credibility is given for an ascent when a climber’s abilities and potential risk are balanced together. Beta-Angel Note: The authors note that the model hits a tipping point where the “zone” of credibility expands. At this point the climber is considered “sanctified,” at which point you can operate within a wider sense of credibility, where less risk but more ability is provided value (usually “unnoticed”) or more risk but less ability is valued (usually considered “foolhardy”).
Reference: Front Psychol. 2018 Sep 24;9:1793. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01793. eCollection 2018
Sports Psychology > Human Interaction with the Environment

Performing pull-ups with small climbing holds influences grip and biomechanical arm action.
Author: L. Vigouroux, M. Devise, T. Cartier, C. Aubert, E. Berton | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers studied how force changes during a pull-up based on the size of the following six holds: a bar, a large climbing hold, a 22mm, 18mm, 14mm, and 10mm hold. The authors found that finger force reduces during a pull-up, and the authors noted changes in body control, finger force, force deficits and fatigue depending on the size of the hold. Beta-Angel Note: On a practical note, the authors recommend pull-ups on climbing holds in order to improve fatigue resistance. Protocol appeared to be done on an Eva Lopez hangboard.
Reference: J Sports Sci. 2018 Oct 16:1-9. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2018.1532546. [Epub ahead of print]
Biomechanics > Limbs

Effects of ten weeks dynamic or isometric core training on climbing performance among highly trained climbers
Author: AH Saeterbakken, E. Loken, S. Scott, E. Hermans, V. Vereide, V. Andersen | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Study authors sought to compare how two different classes of core workouts affect both (a) core tests, and (b) climbing-specific core tests, in 18 advanced-elite (~5.11c – 5.13c) climbers. Against expectations, study authors found that the “dynamic” core training improved performance in three isometric core tests (trunk flexion and left/right rotation), while the “isometric” core training improved performance in one climbing-specific core test with dynamic trunk and hip action. Beta-Angel Note: On a practical note, the authors first recommend caution in interpreting the results but also: dynamic core-training to increase oblique muscle strength with isometric core training to increase the “functional transfer” of gains to climbing performance.
Reference: PLoS One. 2018 Oct 10;13(10):e0203766. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203766. eCollection 2018.
Biomechanics > Trunk

Long-Term Radiographic Adaptations to Stress of High-Level and Recreational Rock Climbing in Former Adolescent Athletes: An 11-Year Prospective Longitudinal Study
Author: VR Schöffl, PM Hoffman, A. Imhoff, T. Küpper, Isabelle Schöffl, T. Hochholzer, S. Hinterwimmer | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers followed up on a 1999 study involving 19 climbers from the German National Junior Team and 18 recreational climbers in order to determine the long-term adaptations of rock climbing on the fingers. The authors found a higher prevalence of “stress reactions” in the team members (80%) than the recreational climbers (46%) and early-onset osteoarthritis (wearing down of protective tissue at the end of bone – 27% vs. 15% respectively). They also found 1999 training intensity and 1999 body weight to be associated with stress reactions, and overall training years, campus board, and climbing level to be associated with early-onset osteoarthritis. Beta Angel note: It should be noted that “stress reactions” are defined as physiological adaptations, or those which aren’t defined as osteoarthritic. We recommend reading the discussion section which highlights how this research into youth synthesizes with other research (often on adults) into the long-term impact of climbing stress on the fingers.
Reference: Orthop J Sports Med. 2018 Sep; 6(9): 2325967118792847.
Kinesiology > Injury

Physeal fracture in the wrist and hand due to stress injury in a child climber: A case report.
Author: SW Kwon, SJ Hong, JH Nho, SI Moon, KJ Jung | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Case description of 11-year old girl with a growth plate injury of the left radial bone, and (later) a growth plate injury of the right ring finger at the location of the PIP (middle joint) of the finger on the opposite hand. Conservative treatment (rest, bracing, and physical therapy) was applied in both cases, and the authors note that chronic pain should be quickly evaluated and radiographs obtained, and that “avoiding intensive power training” would mitigate the risk.
Reference: Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Aug;97(34):e11571.
Kinesiology > Injury

Self-reported chronic injuries in climbing: who gets injured when?
Author: G. Grønhaug | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The researcher used an internet survey to assess 667 active climbers (beginner to elite) for chronic injuries within the previous 6 months and differentiated climbers based on gender, level, and preference for type of climbing (e.g. indoor/outdoor, boulder/lead)). The author found that fingers, elbows, and shoulders make up a majority (80%) of chronic injuries, that there are some gender differences, such that the relative impact of shoulder injuries and foot/ankle injuries in females is higher, and that the relative impact of elbow injuries in males appears to be higher, and also found that male outdoor climbers have a higher likelihood of reporting chronic injuries.
Reference: BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2018 Jul 17;4(1):e000406.
Kinesiology > Injury

Cortisol and behavioral reaction of low and high sensation seekers differ in responding to a sport-specific stressor
Author: MO Frenkel, RB Heck, H. Plessner | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers divided 28 male beginner climbers into two groups using a scale designed to test for low- and high-sensation and then assessed cortisol levels, anxiety, heart rate, and climbing performance as measured by the duration of the climb. The authors found that high-sensation seeking seems to act as a “stress buffer”, enabling performance, and keeping cortisol levels low after researchers instructed climbers to “jump” into the rope at the end of the climb to create a reaction. However, there was no association with either heart rate or anxiety. Beta-Angel note: later in the paper, the authors seem intrigued by the potential for how self-regulation (regulation of stress, moods, thoughts, attention and impulses) could impact low-sensation seekers in stressful environments.
Reference: Anxiety Stress Coping. 2018 Sep;31(5):580-593.
Sports Psychology > The Interaction of Mind and Body

Acute Responses to Forearm Compression of Blood Lactate Accumulation, Heart Rate, Perceived Exertion, and Muscle Pain in Elite Climbers.
Author: FA Engel, B. Sperlich, U. Stöcker, P. Wolf, V. Schöffl, L. Donath | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors tested the effect of VERTICS compression sleeves and placebo compression sleeves on blood lactate concentration, heart rate, perceived exertion, and perceived pain in 7 elite (5 female, 2 male) members of the Swedish National Team. Researchers detected a very small but non-significant effect of the forearm compression sleeves on blood lactate accumulation and perceived exertion, and feel that the reduction in blood lactate levels and perceived exertion was so low as to make it non-practical for climbers. Beta-Angel note: Just a quick comment on a caveat – one hypothesis in the paper from a review of a study on clothing “feel” caused the authors to write: “both elevated skin temperature and proprioception could in fact improve climbing, especially in a cold environment or on a cold surface.”
Reference: Front Physiol. 2018 May 23;9:605.
Bioenergetics > Energy System Responses

Lean and mean? Associations of level of performance, chronic injuries and BMI in sport climbing
Author: G. Grønhaug | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Author reached 481 males and 186 females, with 49% climbing at an intermediate level (6b+-7a+), 34% at an experienced level (7b-8b), 3.5% at an elite level (8b+-8c+), and .2% at an international elite level (9a). The author found no association between climbing level, chronic injuries, training volume, and/or BMI. Beta-Angel note: this is a fascinating study which challenges some “accepted wisdom” between injuries, climbing level, and BMI. However, the author notes that although the amount of respondents was high and their climbing level mostly representative of Norway’s climbing population, the number of climbers at the international elite level taking part inf the survey (N=1) is problematic.
Reference: BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 5(1):e000437
Kinesiology > Injury

Bouldering psychotherapy reduces depressive symptoms even when general physical activity is controlled for: A randomized controlled trial.
Author: EM Stelzer, S. Books, E. Graessel, B. Hofner, J. Kornhuber, K. Luttenberger | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers compared a “Bouldering” + therapy intervention with a therapy intervention in 56 individuals using two depression-related tests (SCL-90-R and BDI-II). The bouldering therapy intervention appeared to be effective even when taking physical activity, psychology, and medication into account. Beta-Angel note: the researchers find it important to note that this bouldering program is different than a typical bouldering program at your average gym. How was it different? It’s an eight-week program where each session: (1) began with a meditative or mindfulness exercise; (2) had a topic “focused on a specific psychological process”. Topics included: building group cohesion, old habits – new ways, expectation vs. experience, self-efficacy, fear and trust, trusting yourself and others, transfer to daily life, and reflections on lessons learned, and (3) was directed by therapist trained by the “Institute for Therapeutic Rock Climbing” –
Reference: Heliyon. 2018 Mar 23;4(3):e00580. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e00580. eCollection 2018 Mar.
Kinesiology > Injury

Lumbrical muscle tear: clinical presentation, imaging findings and outcome
Author: C. Lutter, A. Schweizer, V. Schöffl, Römer, t. Bayer | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Authors analyze 60 patients and provide recommendations for diagnosis and therapy for lumbrical muscles, a series of four muscles that are primarily injured in the ring finger, occasionally middle finger, when the finger was isolated and extended and the neighboring fingers were actively flexed (think mono pocket). The authors found higher rates of injury severity with higher performance levels, recommend a stress test involving use of the non-injured finger, followed by ultrasound if the stress test is positive and additional diagnostics depending on the injury. Therapy is conservative and runs from 4 to 10 weeks (with “buddy taping” technique in most severe cases for an additional 10 weeks).
Reference: J Hand Surg Eur Vol. 2018 Sep;43(7):767-775.
Kinesiology > Injury

Effect of Magnesium Carbonate Use on Repeated Open-Handed and Pinch Grip Weight-Assisted Pull-Ups.
Author: NT Bacon, GA Ryan, JE Wingo, MT Richardson, T. Pangallo, PA Bishop | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers attached climbing holds to a pull-up weight assistance machine in order to understand the effect of chalk on a pulling motion using an open-hand and pinch grip. Chalk improved both open hand and pinch grip pull-up repetitions in recreational climbers at the V1-V7 grade range. Beta Angel note: The authors attempt to synthesize previous, contradictory information regarding the effect of chalk on the coefficient of friction. While they aren’t clear on the reasons for the contradiction, they suggest it could be the differences in each study’s set-up and fall on the side of “chalk helps.” Additionally, there is some interesting writing on the relationship of the direction of grabbing with the wrist’s position and the pulling muscles which should influence future research on limb positioning.
Reference: Int J Exerc Sci. 2018 Jan 1;11(4):479-492. eCollection 2018.
Cognitive-Motor Learning > Grabbing

Development and Initial Validation of a Rock Climbing Craving Questionnaire (RCCQ).
Author: G. Roderique-Davies, RM Hereine, S. Mellalieu, DA Shearer | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers sought to validate a measurement tool for identifying the “craving” to go rock climbing. The authors sought to validate their Rock Climbing Craving Questionnaire (RCCQ) in 407 climbers by using climbing “cues” to assess whether those cues had an impact on craving. There were small to medium effects. The authors suggest that their findings support the idea that there may be similarities between climbing and drug cravings, and consider that it may be possible to use rock climbing as a replacement for drug addiction. Beta-Angel note: the paper is worth reading specifically for its discussion of cues and positive/negative reinforcement within the context of climbing craving.
Reference: Front Psychol. 2018 Feb 22;9:204.
Sports Psychology > Human Interaction with the Environment

An uncommon location of black heels in a free climbing instructor
Author: A. Tammaro, F. Magri, E. Moliterni, FR Parisella, M. Mondello, S. Persechino | Year: 2017
Summary/Results: Researchers note a case of a climbing instructor who developed black spots on his feet. They confirmed that the case was benign, and that the atypical location of “black heels” was likely due to the configuration of climbing shoes which have a soft sole. However, they recommend consulting with a doctor to remove any doubt if others are afflicted with similar black spots. Beta-Angel note: this research will not help you heel hook, but it may cause you to check your heels regularly… no we’re not freaking out unnecessarily.
Reference: Int Wound J. 2018 Apr;15(2):313-315
Kinesiology > Injury

Surgical Management of Proximal Interphalangeal Joint Repetitive Stress Epiphyseal Fracture Nonunion in Elite Sport Climbers.
Author: Y. El-Sheikh, C. Lutter, I. Schöffl, V. Schöffl, S. Flohe | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers discuss a case study of surgery in an elite youth competition climber with a 9-month incidence of middle finger pain diagnosed as a growth-plate fracture. The surgery involved spot drilling with wire emplacements in one hand, and non-surgical “conservative” therapy in the other. At 3 months post-surgery, the climber had complete range of motion and resolution of symptoms, and was allowed to gradually return to climbing. Beta-Angel note: The authors note that in the past, chronic “non-union” left previous adolescent climbers with pain, deformity, and stiffness. As a result, they chose to attempt a surgical procedure. Please note that this was taken from a conference paper. The published version appears to include a second case study.
Reference: J Hand Surg Am. 2018 Jun;43(6):572.e1-572.e5
Kinesiology > Injury

Rock climbing related bone marrow edema of the hand: a follow-up study
Author: C. Lutter, T. Hochholzer, T. Bayer, V. Schöffl | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The researchers studied cases of hand and wrist injury in 31 climbers averaging between 5.10d and 5.14c. They found bone bruising and classified them according to the area of the wrist, primarily in the bones of the palm and the bones just above the wrist. The authors recommended avoidance of stress in all climbers, and the effects of the bone bruising lasted between 6 – 32 weeks. Most were classified with conservative treatment as having good outcomes, however 3 required surgery.
Reference: Clin J Sport Med. 2017 Jul 6.
Kinesiology > Injury

Comparative functional outcomes of patients with adhesive capsulitis receiving intra-articular versus sub-acromial steroid injections: case-control study.
Author: T. Goyal, A. Singh, P. Negi, B. Kharkwal | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers studied the effect of an injection of methylprednisolone acetate, both directly into the joint and into the tissue surrounding the shoulder, in 105 individuals with “frozen shoulder” – a disorder marked by pain, inflammation, and stiffness. The patients were divided into controls (no injection), the location of the injection (along with physical therapy), and physical therapy (which included wall climbing). Injections, regardless of location, were associated with improvement in pain relief and function. Beta-Angel note: we included this paper because the physical therapy protocol involved climbing.
Reference: Musculoskelet Surg. 2018 May 23.
Kinesiology > Injury

Determinants of optimal leg use strategy: horizontal to vertical transition in the parkour wall climb.
Author: JL Croft, RT Schroeder, JEA Bertram | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers used force plates, a camera and 7 parkour athletes to capture a typical “parkour”-style move of running toward and jumping off a wall to attain a higher surface – they then modeled the behavior to determine a more optimal jumping path for the athletes. The model started slightly faster than the athlete, was lower to the ground for longer, and had a shorter stride between the ground and the wall (contact points for both were closer), before maintaining closeness with the wall for longer. Beta-Angel note: the model “optimized” the jump of the parkour athletes by manipulating initial velocity, the location of foot contacts with both ground and wall, the path of the center of mass, and the relative timing of contact/take-off with the CoM’s location and path. Also, of note is that the model looked at leg angle at contact, but largely kept this parameter the same as the athletes, and the model did not look at slipping on the wall nor the impact of swinging legs, both of which may change optimal forces and path.
Reference: J Exp Biol. 2018 Nov 16.
Kinesiology > Studies of Human Movement

Pediatric and adolescent injury in rock climbing.
Author: V. Schöffl, C. Lutter, K. Woollings, I. Schöffl | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: This research paper is an aggregation of injury science regarding youth climbing using the following major headings: Age differentiation, anatomical location, environmental location, acute vs. chronic injuries and changing trends in injuries, injury types and severities, intrinsic (within the body) vs. extrinsic (outside of the body) risk factors, “inciting events” (reasons for the injury), injury prevention, and recommendations. A small highlight of evidence-based preventive measures is provided here: (1) dynamic belay techniques for children; (2) reasonable shoe size, (3) gender and biological age-related training, (4) neglect of campus board before closure of growth plates, and (5) no preventive finger taping. Beta-Angel note: highly recommended for youth coaches and physios.
Reference: Res Sports Med. 2018;26(sup1):91-113.
Sports Psychology > Youth Specific Studies

Knee Injuries in Rock Climbing and Bouldering – an Update
Author: C. Lutter, D. Popp, V. Schöffl | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors examined 50 climbers who had pain in their knee (with 7 reporting a “snapping” sound) while performing a heel hook. The injury deferred between different ligaments in the knee, the meniscus, and the hamstrings. The authors suggest these types of injuries will increase due to trends in modern training and competition-style setting, that MRI can provide a proper diagnosis, and that the best approach is conservative treatment. Further, they recommend a good warm-up routine, shoring up muscular imbalances, and flexibility training.
Reference: The Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 6(4)(suppl 2)
Kinesiology > Injury

Feasibility of a New Pulley Repair: A Cadaver Study.
Author: I. Schöffl, J. Meisel, C. Lutter, V. Schöffl | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors used cadaver tendons to test a new pulley repair which combines two previous methods in order to improve function without reducing strength. The authors found that the amount of force required to cause breakage in the system was comparable with previous studies of tendon strength, and that the drill tunnel did not appear to weaken the bone. Beta-Angel note: this new technique also has the potential to correct a problem with the previous surgical method which causes irritation to the extensor tendon (a tendon which extends, instead of flexes, the wrist and fingers) that lead to challenging complications in the fingers.
Reference: J Hand Surg Am. 2018 Apr;43(4):380.e1-380.e7.
Kinesiology > Injury

Autologous Conditioned Plasma Versus Placebo Injection Therapy in Lateral Epicondylitis of the Elbow: A Double Blind, Randomized Study
Author: V. Schöffl, W. Willauschus, F. Sauer, T. Küpper, I. Schöffl, C. Lutter, K. Gelse, J. Dickschas | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers tested autologous conditioned plasma (a concentrated form of blood that reacts quickly to clump and clot) to see whether it had a statistically significant effect vs. a placebo injection in 50 patients with lateral epicondylitis. Unfortunately, it had no significant effect vs. the placebo injection but the authors hypothesize that the issues may have to do with the use of a local anesthetic which recent research is showing produce an inhibitory effect on the proliferation of tendon cells. Beta-Angel note: while not technically a study of climbers, the authors chose to include this because (a) it was completed by climbing researchers, AND (b) other research has shown elbow injuries are high in climbing.
Reference: Sportverletz Sportschaden. 2017 Jan;31(1):31-36.
Kinesiology > Injury

Effects of Rock Climbing Exercise on Physical Fitness among College Students: A Review Article and Meta-analysis.
Author: L. Li, A. Ru, T. Liao, S. Zou, XH Niu, YT Wang | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers looked at Chinese and American databases to do a review of 9 studies which looked at the impact of climbing on one or more variables in climbers between the ages of 18-38. The indicators/variables included: (1) body competition (Body Fat %); (2) Body Function (Maximal Oxygen consumption, heart rate); (3) muscle power (handgrip strength, lower limb pedaling power, vertical jump); (4) muscle endurance (push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups); and one indicator of (5) flexibility (sit-and-reach). The authors found that rock climbing significantly improved oxygen consumption, handgrip strength, lower limb pedaling power, vertical jump, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and sit-and-reach. Beta-Angel note: this study is not suggesting that heart rate and body fat percentage do not impact climbing, nor is it claiming that the variables affected by climbing, if trained individually, will improve climbing.
Reference: Iran J Public Health. 2018 Oct;47(10):1440-1452.
Kinesiology > Anthropometry – Measuring the Climber

Diagnosis of A3 Pulley Injuries Using Ultrasound.
Author: I. Schöffl, J. Deeg, C. Lutter, T. Bayer, V. Schöffl | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors suggest a new approach to investigating whether an A3 pulley has been ruptured due to the distinction in origin (the volar plate: a thick ligament which limits hyperextension and provides reinforcement and stability) of the A3 pulley (a stabilizing tendon that holds a finger-pulling tendon to the finger bone) vs. the A2 and A4 pulleys. Rather than measuring the tendon-to-bone distance in the case of the A2 and A4, the authors were able to predict rupture of the A3 using a cut-off distance between the volar plate and the tendon of 0.9 mm.
Reference: Sportverletz Sportschaden. 2018 Dec;32(4):251-259.
Kinesiology > Injury

Pulley injuries in rock climbers: Hand therapy clinical application.
Author: L. Algar, M. Moschetto | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors outline how to conservatively treat rock climbing pulley (a stabilizing tendon that holds a finger-pulling tendon to the finger bone) injuries. Specifically, they summarize the two mechanisms identified to date which reduce the distance between the tendon and the bone. This effect protects the pulley tendon. They are: (1) the H-taping method developed by Schöffl and his colleagues, and (2) the pulley protection orthosis (brace) developed by Schneeberger and Schweizer.
Reference: J Hand Ther. 2018 Jul – Sep;31(3):416-420.
Kinesiology > Injury

MRI sport-specific pulley imaging.
Author: MN Hoff, TD Greenberg | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The researchers tested a novel climbing-specific crimp position using an MRI in a single individual in order to determine the MRI’s efficacy in measuring the bone to tendon distance (BTD), a traditional measure associated with diagnosing pulley (a stabilizing tendon that holds a finger-pulling tendon to the finger bone) injury injuries. The technique identified the BTD as 1.5 mm (which is less than 2 mm – the distance used to indicate a weakened pulley) across 3 images; one image of a relaxed crimp and two images of a stress crimped position. The authors note a wide range of benefits (e.g. outcome of surgery; rehab, etc.) to using a climbing-specific grip position using a relaxed and stressed method.
Reference: Skeletal Radiol. 2018 Jul;47(7):989-992.
Kinesiology > Injury

Constraints representing a meta-stable régime facilitate exploration during practice and transfer of learning in a complex multi-articular task.
Author: D. Orth, K. Davids, L. Seifert | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors were primarily interested in seeing how two indicators (hip exploration and hand exploration) of climbing efficiency were learned by lower grade level (5.9ish) and intermediate level (5.10b-ish) athletes after practice on 3 routes (horizontal edge, vertical edge, and dual-type edge). A “test” route appeared to be a valid way to test the transfer of skills after practice – lower level climbers appeared to transfer what they learned in both hip and hand exploration, while advanced climbers only appeared to transfer what they learned about hip exploration. Authors suggest this is likely due to distinctions in previous experience. Beta-Angel note: the authors suggest that giving climbers a “choice” of grabbing options may induce exploratory learning behavior which may improve hip fluency, but admit this will have to wait for future research.
Reference: Hum Mov Sci. 2018 Feb;57:291-302.
Cognitive-Motor Learning > Learning

Children’s perception of action boundaries and how it affects their climbing behavior.
Author: JL Croft, GJ Pepping, C. Button, JY Chow | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers tested 30 children for the relationship between their perception of their own ability to reach horizontally, diagonally, and vertically with their ability to do a climbing traverse. The children tended to overestimate their vertical reaching ability and underestimate or accurately estimate their horizontal and diagonal reaching ability, and horizontal reach perception appeared to accurately predict both success and better speeds of doing the traverse. Beta-Angel note: the discussion section in this paper suggests that perception is based on the potential degrees of freedom inherent in your given body position – or the location of your body, and any potential constraints on it, while considering reach in the rough direction of travel that’s being tested. Factors influencing perception could include: experience, intention to use the hold, postural control, and flexibility.
Reference: J Exp Child Psychol. 2018 Feb;166:134-146.
Sports Psychology > Youth Specific Studies

Reliability of Near-Infrared Spectroscopy for Measuring Intermittent Handgrip Contractions in Sport Climbers.
Author: J. Baláš, J. Kodejška, D. Krupková, J. Hannsmann, S. Fryer | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The researchers studied the effectiveness of using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) in order to measure forearm muscle oxygenation in 15 males and 17 females. The study used an 8-second work / 2-second rest repeater protocol (60% of max finger force) to failure over 3 sessions. The study’s authors concluded that NIRS reliably measured muscle oxygenation by using the mean “tissue saturation index” which is derived from measuring oxygenated and non-oxygenated blood around the tendons used to flex the fingers.
Reference: J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Feb;32(2):494-501.
Bioenergetics > Energy System Responses

Traumatic Urethraggia in Adolescence: Ushering in the New Age of “Extreme Sports”.
Author: I. Hodge, A. Adam, M. Chennapragada, A. Tiu, AV. Deshpande | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors present a single case report of a 14-year-old boy who fell onto a poll while participating in indoor rock climbing, sustaining a “blunt” non-penetrating trauma. The injury was considered “blunt” trauma, but nonetheless caused injury to an artery that led to blood loss. Though not a widely-known or common injury, the authors suggest these types of injuries may increase due to recent trends in extreme sports.
Reference: Urology. 2018 Apr;114:181-183.
Kinesiology > Injury

Cardiovascular and metabolic responses during indoor climbing and laboratory cycling exercise in advanced and élite climbers.
Author: E. Limonta, A. Brighenti, S. Rampichini, E. Cè, F. Schena, F. Esposito | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers tested advanced (7a+-7c) and elite (8a-8b+) climbers on two different exercises: a climbing treadwall test and a cycling test, both with step-wise speed increases and rests between steps, in order to determine distinctions between heart rate and oxygen consumption. The authors ultimately recommend that heart rate should not be used as a good climbing intensity indicator, and that peak ability to consume oxygen, and thus maximum aerobic fitness, should be reconsidered as an important indicator of climbing. Additionally, the elite climbers had greater climbing economy during comparisons at the same velocity, but the authors are unclear whether this is due to “postural control and technical optimization” or physiological adaptations. Beta-Angel note: The authors were interested in the changes in heart rate and oxygen consumption with different velocities of climbing. For low and medium velocities, the heart rate is disproportionately higher compared to oxygen consumption. The authors suggest that longer time spent in an upper-body isometric contraction has the potential to lead to a “disproportionate rise in blood pressure, cardiac output, and [heart rate].” But for faster velocities, the two measurements rise in a more equal manner and mechanical work may be higher.
Reference: Eur J Appl Physiol. 2018 Feb;118(2):371-379.
Bioenergetics > Energy System Responses

Ultrasound evaluation of stress injuries and physiological adaptations in the fingers of adolescent competitive rock climbers.
Author: K. Garcia, D. Jaramillo, E. Rubesova | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers evaluated 20 male/female climbers divided up into 3 different levels of climbing and compared them to 6 male/female non-climbers using different types of radiographic imaging, and a questionnaire. The climbers were divided up based on: (1) climbing grade, (2) use of supplemental finger exercises, (3) number of years climbing, and (4) hours per week spent climbing/training. The authors suggest that climbing results in adaptive changes (flexor tendons, volar plates, and soft tissues) in the fingers of young climbers but that these adaptive changes also involve the potential for stress injuries. The authors also suggested that there are both advantages and disadvantages in the use of MRI imaging over Ultrasound imaging.
Reference: Pediatr Radiol. 2018 Mar;48(3):366-373.
Kinesiology > Injury

Wilderness Falls: An Analysis and Comparison of Rock Climbers and Nonclimbers.
Author: M. Bernard, R. Wright, H. Anderson, A. Bernard | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: In an analysis of a level 1 trauma center’s data of 151 patients who “fell from a cliff,” 26.5% were climbers, 78.4% were male, there was no difference in severity scores between climbers and non-climbers, but climbers were younger (26.1 vs. 32.8), there was no significant difference in intoxication (23% for climbers, and 39% for non-climbers). Data for managed care insurance (higher for climbers), the time of transport (day for climbers), the use of air transport (higher for climbers), and climber transport time (lower) were significantly different. Soft tissue injuries were also higher among climbers, as were upper extremity injuries.
Reference: J Surg Res. 2019 Feb;234:149-154.
Kinesiology > Injury

UIAA Medical Commission Recommendations for Mountaineers, Hillwalkers, Trekkers, and Rock and Ice Climbers with Diabetes.
Author: D. Hillebrandt, A Gurtoo, T. Kupper, P. Richards, V. Schöffl, P. Shah, R. van der Spek, N. Wallis, J. Milledge | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors provide information and recommendations for diabetic individuals who participate in climbing, which primarily revolve around monitoring and preparation. Preparation should include knowledge of the speed of dropping blood glucose levels, back-up food and insulin, knowledge of medical conditions they may be more prone to at altitude, such as frostbite, infection and loss of sight, or with tight climbing shoes, such as small blood vessel and nerve damage, and also the preparation of equipment and medicines. The authors also recommend several management options, including treatment with and without rescue facilities in remote areas, issues for technology and the different kinds of medication, and knowledge about the primary issues including hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, and ketoacidosis. It’s clear that well-informed partners also play a role. Beta-Angel note: a practical management primer for climbers with diabetes.
Reference: High Alt Med Biol. 2018 Nov 3.
Kinesiology > Injury

Climber’s Knuckle Excoriation
Author: S. Ohmori, Y. Sawada, M. Nakamura | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Japanese dermatology researchers submitted a letter to the editor of a journal with a case study of a climber who had an infected open wound from scraping the knuckle on a climbing wall. The authors note that it’s common for this type of injury to occur when the fingers suddenly fail while on a small crimp, with the knuckles subsequently scraping the wall “vigorously.” They recommend keeping the open wound clean and to try to avoid scarring due to a potential impact on performance.
Reference: J Dermatol. 2018 Sep;45(9):e264-e265.
Kinesiology > Injury

Effect of Cold-Water Immersion on Handgrip Performance in Rock Climbers.
Author: J. Kodejška, J. Baláš, N. Draper | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers studied the effect of passive recovery and two different cold-water temperatures (8° C and 15° C) in 32 sport climbers using three 4-minute in / 2-out cycles using 60% of maximum force and an 8-seconds on / 2-seconds off intermittent “repeater” protocol to failure. The authors found that 15° C cold water immersion improved the second and third sets of the “repeaters,” but also that the effect is highly variable based on the individual, with some climbers being able to take advantage while others do not. Beta-Angel note: the authors call the effect “precooling.” Additionally, they investigated why it works for some but not others in a separate study (not yet available) finding that body fat, forearm circumference and oxygenation did not affect performance – only climbing ability and initial intermittent handgrip performance in males (but not females).
Reference: Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2018 Sep 1;13(8):1097-1099.
Bioenergetics > Recovery After Climbing

The effects of 8 weeks of two different training methods on on-sight lead climbing performance.
Author: M. Philippe, I. Filzwieser, V. Leichtfried, C. Blank, S. Haslinger, J. Fleckenstein, W. Schobersberger | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers studied the effect of two different 8-week training programs on a simulated world cup onsight format test in 23 athletes (12b-13b) and tested them on a 13b onsight route prior to the training, after the training, and 2 weeks after training ended. The two training protocols roughly followed (1) bouldering and power-based workouts with limited endurance climbing, and (2) different difficulties and volume of lead climbing. Neither group was superior to one another, but both groups showed significant improvements after training ended. Beta-Angel note: this is an enjoyable synthesis of information regarding a more bouldering-based protocol and a more endurance-based protocol for lead climbing training. The second onsight test was mirrored from the first (and 8 weeks later), and the third was the exact same as the first but 10 weeks later. The authors appear to have chosen this format of tests to provide the same level of difficulty while attempting to maintain the spirit of the onsight format.
Reference: J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2018 May 2.
Bioenergetics > Energy System Responses

Hemodynamic and Cardiorespiratory Predictors of Sport Rock Climbing Performance.
Author: SM Fryer, D. Giles, IG Palomino, A. de la O Puerta, V. España-Romero | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors measured local forearm and whole body aerobic capacity in 21 male sport climbers between the grades of 5.10c and 5.13c. The findings suggest that both the local and whole-body aerobic capacity is important for climbing, but recommend sport-specific application for the whole body (e.g. a treadwall as opposed to a treadmill, which may be helpful but not as helpful). Local forearm and whole-body each explain the same amount (36%) of variation in rock climbing ability which the authors suggest make them equally important.
Reference: J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Dec;32(12):3534-3541.
Bioenergetics > Energy System Responses

Incidence, Diagnosis, and Management of Injury in Sport Climbing and Bouldering: A Critical Review.
Author: G. Jones, V. Schöffl, MI Johnson | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Analysis of eight studies which calculate injury incidence per 1000 hours (a typical measurement for calculating injury potential) concluded that sport climbing and bouldering have an injury rate of 2.71±4.49 per 1000 hours. The authors further suggest that ensuring the correct diagnosis of finger injuries and shoulder injuries is challenging, and that early identification of growth plate injuries in children is extremely important. Beta-Angel note: the authors include a new chart which identifies diagnosis and therapy options for acute trauma in addition to chronic overuse injury for both adults and children. It’s also important to note that the wide variation in the injury rate is due to a number of large distinctions in the eight different studies, including the type of population surveyed.
Reference: Curr Sports Med Rep. 2018 Nov;17(11):396-401.
Kinesiology > Injury

Epidemiology of injuries and pain in rock climbers – A review of the literature and new epidemiological data.
Author: R. Vilella | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Author conducts a literature review of articles discussing pain and/or injury in climbing and used a survey of 59 responses to collect data on pain in climbers in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The author suggests that the incidence of pain in climbers at different levels does not progress in a straightforward way from lower levels of difficult climbing (and lower levels of pain) to higher levels of difficult climbing (and higher levels of pain), but rather peaks at an intermediate level of difficult climbing. Additionally, climbers that climb both outdoors and indoors are more likely to feel pain than those who specialize.
Reference: Researchgate, December 2018
Kinesiology > Injury

Risks Seem Low While Climbing High: Shift in Risk Perception and Error Rates in the Course of Indoor Climbing Activities.
Author: M. Raue, R. Kolodziej, E. Lermer, B. Streicher | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers studied 57 participants (32% female) for climbing/belaying errors and their answers to questions about perceived risk at five different time points: the night before climbing, entering the gym, after the first route, before the last route, and outside the gym. The authors found that perceived risk decreases during climbing, that errors increase, and that more experienced climbers made more errors than less experienced climbers. Beta-Angel note: experience was measured by their level of lead climbing difficulty (5.5 – 5.11d), years of climbing experience (1 – 45)and whether they indicated they were professionally trained.
Reference: Front Psychol. 2018 Dec 17;9:2383.
Sports Psychology > Human Interaction with the Environment

Treatment of finger problems in climbers with the local-osteopathic Isele-method: a Pilot study
Author: K. Isele, AG Hay, B. Schrank, A. Schweikart | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers discuss the testing of Klaus Isele’s (Austrian National Team Physio) finger injury treatment method on 60 subjects (19.4% female) which involved questionnaires at three separate times with treatment between the second and third. Treatment includes pulling the finger to create “traction” (a stretching motion or force), inducing pressure on the sensitive area, and flexing the finger. Authors conclude the method works for improvement of pain at any stage of a finger issue.
Reference: Front Psychol. 2018 Dec 17;9:2383.
Kinesiology > Injury

Venga!: climbing in mixed reality
Author: M. Tiator, C. Geiger, B. Dewitz, B. Fischer | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Conference paper showing development of a “mixed reality” system that simulates climbing on a wall using virtual reality technology. Additionally, outside users can get involved in the virtual climber’s environment in order to facilitate the teaching and learning process. Beta-Angel note: article comes amid a spate of mixed/virtual/augmented reality papers on climbing including “Cliffhanger-VR” and “Exploring Rock Climbing in Mixed Reality Environments” and “ClimbVis: Investigating In-situ visualizations for Understanding Climbing Movements by Demonstration”
Reference: Conference Paper, July 2018 – First Superhuman Sports Design Challenge
Cognitive-Motor Learning > Learning

Author: M. Tiator, B. Fischer, L. Gerhardt, D. Nowottnik | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: Researchers presented a virtual reality system they believe can facilitate mental training in climbers by simulating fear and anxiety. The authors note, however, that further research needs to be done to test whether the system causes an emotional response helpful to mental training for real rock climbing.
Reference: Conference Paper, March 2018 – IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR)
Sports Psychology > The Interaction of Mind and Body

Climbing-Related Injury Among Adults in the United States: 5-Year Analysis of the National Emergency Department Sample.
Authors: Forrester JD, Tran K, Tennakoon L, Staudenmayer K | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: In this paper, the authors estimated the national morbidity, mortality, and healthcare cost due to climbing-related injuries presented at US emergency departments (ED) using a retrospective analysis of the National Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) database from 2010-2014. Out of 15,116 estimated climbing-related ED visits, only 11% (1610) of climbing patients were admitted as inpatients. Less than 1% of climbing related ED visits resulted in death. Overall, climbing related injuries cost the healthcare system ~$20 million per year.
Reference: Wilderness Environ Med. 2018 Dec;29(4):425-430.
Kinesiology > Injury

Feasibility of a Kinect®-based rehabilitation strategy after burn injury.
Authors: Pham TN, Wong JN, Terken T, Gibran NS, Carrougher GJ, Bunnell A. | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: This study evaluated Jintronix games and therapy modules for burn patients using the Kinect platform. One of the modules was a climbing experience where burn patients had to move their hands and feet as if they were climbing a wall. Overall, participants reported an enjoyable experience. The climbing module was considered the most difficult. Beta-Angel note: we included this paper because the burn rehabilitation protocol involved climbing.
Reference: Burns. 2018 Dec;44(8):2080-2086.
Cognitive-Motor Learning > Learning

Valuing the Benefits of Rock Climbing and the Welfare Gains from Decreasing Injury Risk.
Authors: Nicita L, Shaw WD, Signorello G. | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors used the Kuhn-Tucker approach to estimate Sicily’s demand for rock climbing, the recreational value of different climbing sites, and the welfare impact of reducing injury risk. The authors found that Sicilian climbing sites with higher number of routes, scenic views, and less risk are more likely to be visited. There is an economic advantage to produce these types of climbing sites by improving the bolting of existing routes.
Reference: Risk Anal. 2018 Nov;38(11):2258-2274.
Kinesiology > Injury

Reliability, Sensitivity, and Minimal Detectable Change of a New Specific Climbing Test for Assessing Asymmetry in Reach Technique.
Authors: Čular D, Dhahbi W, Kolak I, Dello Iacono A, Bešlija T, Laffaye G, Padulo J. | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors developed a testing protocol to assess asymmetry in a climbing-specific reach movement. Climbers would start with matched hands and then reach diagonally upward with one hand and then reset on the matched hold and alternate hands. During two trial sessions, the climbers preformed this test three times. The authors suggest that this test is both reliable enough and sensitive enough to determine the differences between left and right reaching abilities.
Reference: J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Jun 22.
Kinesiology > Anthropometry – Measuring the Climber

Short-Term d-Aspartic Acid Supplementation Does Not Affect Serum Biomarkers Associated With the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal Axis in Male Climbers.
Authors: Crewther B, Witek K, Zmijewski P, Obmiński Z.
Summary/results: D-aspartic acid (DAA) is a supplement that was previously shown to increase testosterone in untrained athletes and men with low-testosterone levels. The authors demonstrated that male climbers, similar to other athlete populations, do not benefit from DAA as it does not increase testosterone levels. Beta-Angel note: Save your money, skip the DAA.
Reference: Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2018 Sep 21:1-6.
Bioenergetics > Nutrition

Death on the Dome: Epidemiology of Recreational Deaths on Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.
Authors: Richardson GD, Spano SJ. | Year: 2018
Summary/results: The authors investigated the causes of 31 deaths on Half Dome in 85 years. At time of death, their activities were technical rock climbing (36%), suicide (26%), utilizing cable handrails (16%), hiking (16%), and base jumping (6%). Contrary to media coverage, cable handrail falls due to overcrowding (1) and weather (2) are actually minimal based on the authors’ findings.
Reference: Wilderness Environ Med. 2018 Sep;29(3):338-342.
Kinesiology > Injury

Comparative functional outcomes of patients with adhesive capsulitis receiving intra-articular versus sub-acromial steroid injections: case-control study.
Authors: Goyal T, Singh A, Negi P, Kharkwal B. | Year: 2018
Summary/results: The authors compared the use of steroid injections in conjunction with physical therapy to physical therapy alone for treating adhesive capsulitis (restrictive and painful shoulder issue) in a non-climber patient group. Physical therapy consisted of heat, passive stretching, and wall climbing. Steroid injections reduced pain and improved shoulder function faster than physical therapy alone; however, there was no difference in patient outcomes after 6 months.
Reference: Musculoskelet Surg. 2018 May 23.
Kinesiology > Injury

The influence of hold regularity on perceptual-motor behaviour in indoor climbing.
Authors: Button C, Orth D, Davids K, Seifert L. | Year: 2018
Summary/results: Nine participants (5.11d – 5.13d) climbed two routes; the first route consisted of 18 different hold types and shapes, whereas the second route consisted of only 2 holds. Surprisingly, the climbers found the climb with fewer hold types (regular route) more challenging – potentially due to increased technical demands. The routes were intended to be the same difficulty with similar topographical hold positioning. Beta-Angel note: this article is interesting due to its somewhat confusing findings. Why did these climbers spend longer looking at, and climbing, the regular route? Why did they perceive it as harder as well? The authors suggest a few options, including the idea that irregularity can be exploited by skilled performers, that restrictive climbing routes may be perceived as more difficult, and that these restrictive routes may require more effort to climb fluidly.
Reference: Eur J Sport Sci. 2018 Sep;18(8):1090-1099.
Cognitive-Motor Learning > Grabbing

TEST-retest reliability of kinetic variables measured on campus board in sport climbers.
Authors: Abreu EAC, Araújo SRS, Cançado GHDCP, Andrade AGP, Chagas MH, Menzel HK. | Year: 2018
Results/Summary: The authors put a force plate on the first rung hold(s) of a campus board as a proof of principle. They tested and retested the kinetic variables (impulse – center of mass movement; and Peak Force – maintaining contact with the holds) of 22 sport climbers on two days of assessment. They showed that the kinetic variables were consistant between the two days of testing, demonstrating this could be a standardized testing protocol.
Reference: Sports Biomech. 2018 May 16:1-14.
Biomechanics > Quantifying Forces in Movement

Evaluation of severe and fatal injuries in extreme and contact sports: an international multicenter analysis.
Authors: Weber CD, Horst K, Nguyen AR, Lefering R, Pape HC, Hildebrand F; TraumaRegister DGU. | Year: 2018
Summary/results: The authors analyze data from the TraumaRegister DGU database to assess severe and fatal injuries in extreme and contact sports presented at European trauma units from 2002-2012. Climbers experienced high rates of chest and spinal injuries, similar to airborne activities (hang-gliding, kiting, parachuting). The climber mortality rate was 5.7% compared to 7.6% airborne, 14.9% skating (skateboarding, longboarding, in-line skating), and 2.9% contact sports (hockey, football, soccer, etc.).
Reference: Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2018 Jul;138(7):963-970.
Kinesiology > Injury