Health & Training

A lot has been published about training. Also climbing specific training is well researched and documented. If it comes to disabilities and training, especially Paraclimbing, we are more or less alone. So welcome to the beautiful world of adaption and compensation!

Please note:

  • Everything you do is at your own risk
  • You have a lot to loose and not much to win
  • These tips and tricks do not replace professional qualified personnel
  • Know your limits

This might sound very basic – but its very important. Some may forget in the heat of the moment that special care is needed and depending on the disability, you may pay a high price for your engagement …

What if you are an arm amputee and you hurt your “good arm” seriously? What would your daily life look like? Climbing on high level is not a healthy sport for sure, even if you are not disabled at all. Taken into account that your disability will force you to use specific compensatory techniques which mostly causes a constant asymmetric load on specific parts of your body, this will lead sooner or later to overload and injuries if you do not take special care.

You can never cheat physics and anatomy

This is very important to know and to accept. In Parasport we often hear sentences like “Limits are made to be moved”, “The sky is the limit”, “You can achieve everything if you want to” – I am sure you all know them. In a certain way, they are true. But at the same time, they are not. There is always a limit which cannot be moved any more, we are not superheros … we are just humans. And we are disabled. Knowing and accepting the fact that there are hard limits is very important.

Let us take a look on an easy example: If you climb with just one arm, you put much more load on the single arm. Its even more than double in comparison to climbing with two arms because you do way more dynamic moves which will cause higher load peaks. You also have to prevent your body from rotation and this will require intense footwork.

Even for “healthy” climbers with two arms, injuries of shoulder, elbow, wrist and fingers are very common. No matter how hard you train and how good you are in compensatory training, physics will force you in this case to overload your arm very hard. As your body was not made for this, climbing with one arm will always lead to overload and injuries over time if you train hard on high level – because you cannot trick physics and anatomy …

The idea behind this example can be applied to a lot of other disabilities. All kind of amputations or limb deficiencies which lead to an asymmetric load on your body can lead to overload and a higher risk of injuries in certain parts or your body. If you compensate a lack of flexibility with more strength, focus on the part which has to work more and that is the part of your body on which you have to take special care and might suffer from overload and a higher risk of injuries.

Find your weak spot and work on it

So what can you actually do? Aside knowing the basics described above, you need to identify your personal “weak spot”. Where you put much more load on in comparison to non-disabled climbers? Do you put asymmetric loads on your body because of an amputation or limb deficiency? Is there a special part of your body that hurts more often and longer than the rest of your body?

At the end of the day its all about a proper compensatory training which can prepare your body in a better way to handle your special situation – but note that you can never overcome certain limits.

Professional help of Physiotherapists, Medical Doctors or Sport Scientists may help here to work on your individual compensatory training. Luckily, there is a publication which can give you some basic ideas and help: “ACT Adjunct Compensatiory Training” by Volker Schöffl (Medical doctor, German national team doctor), Dicki Korb and Patrick Matros (both are coaching Alexander Megos and many other athletes), the free PDF can be found here:

This book is written for non-disabled climbers and is about compensatory training for them, but it also contains a chapter about special training exercises for frequent climbing injuries which may directly applicable to Paraclimbers. Just take a look and as said above: Professionals help is advised!