Tag Archives: physical therapy

Climber Problems: Shoulder Injury


We ask a lot of our shoulders while climbing, so don’t forget to give a little back to em’.

Today our friend and favorite physical therapist Kristen DeStefano is back! Last time she gave us a lesson on the A2 pulley strain and now she’s filling us with knowledge on shoulder injuries. The shoulder is a complicated place, so get comfy and prepare to be schooled.

The shoulder is a very tricky and complex joint. Injuries to this joint are not only extremely common, but can be disabling to climbers, even during their daily routine. Research shows that 20% to 30% of the general population is affected by rotator cuff pathologies, which only becomes more prevalent and disabling with age. So, when those nagging shoulders are slowing you down at the crag, or you’re just trying to stay healthy, here are some helpful tips.

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Climber Problems: The A2 Pulley Strain


Cate’s pulleys hard at work.

Today we’re tackling one of the most common climbing injuries: The A2 pulley strain or tear. To school us on on the topic we’ve recruited our friend and ladies climbing night regular Kristen DeStefano, who happens to be a super knowledgeable physical therapist and badass climber to boot. Read on for how to protect those hard-working and under-appreciated A2 pulleys.

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Injury Sminjury

I know, injury is a total downer. I try to ignore it too, but it always comes sneaking back in, just like that funky smell your climbing shoes get after a few months. It’s really no surprise that climbing often leads to injury, because people, like me, discover climbing, get obsessed, and go harder than our tendons and pulleys can handle at first. To add insult, climbing injuries are most often persistent and stem from overuse.

I started having shoulder pain about a year into climbing and like any responsible athlete, I ignored it for a while. Predictably, it got worse and I ended up seeing a physical therapist who diagnosed me with tendonitis of the short head of the bicep. This is basically one of the points at which the bicep meets the shoulder. I’m no doctor (actually, I do have a doctorate, but that means nothing here), so I won’t pretend to know much about the physiology of my injury, but I can share my experience. Here are some of the things my injury has taught me and can be applied to most persistent climbing injuries:

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