Rock climbing injury rates and associated risk factors in a general climbing population

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2009 Dec;19(6):850-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2008.00851.x. Epub 2008 Aug 5.


The objective was to examine injury rates and associated risk factors in a representative sample of climbers. A random sample (n=606) of the Swedish Climbing Association members was sent a postal survey, with an effective response rate of 63%. Self-reported data regarding climbing history, safety practices and retrospective accounts of injury events (recall period 1.5 years) were obtained. Descriptive statistical methods were used to calculate injury incidences, and a two-step method including zero-inflated Poisson's regression analysis of re-injuries was used to determine the combination of risk factors that best explained individual injury rates. Overall, 4.2 injuries per 1000 climbing hours were reported, overuse injuries accounting for 93% of all injuries. Inflammatory tissue damages to fingers and wrists were the most common injury types. The multivariate analysis showed that overweight and practicing bouldering generally implied an increased primary injury risk, while there was a higher re-injury risk among male climbers and a lower risk among the older climbers. The high percentage of overuse injuries implies that climbing hours and loads should be gradually and systematically increased, and climbers regularly controlled for signs and symptoms of overuse. Further study of the association between body mass index and climbing injury is warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mountaineering / injuries*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Young Adult