/ Sore knees after indoor bouldering

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Simos on 29 Jan 2014
Any ideas on how to best absorb the impact when falling/jumping off? I religiously down climb whenever it's possible (which is probably 9 times out of 10) but obviously there are some times that I have to jump off or I simply fall and land on my feet. Even these few times seem to be enough to give me sore knees :-(

I currently land and bend my knees sideways until i break the fall by hitting the mat with both hands between my knees (if that makes sense?). Should I be doing something different?

Also, I generally have weak legs - do you think that starting to do some squats etc for strength would help?

Thanks for any advice in advance
crayefish - on 29 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

I don't boulder personally, but perhaps take a leaf out of the judo fall book? I recall from my various martial arts days that you can safely fall (even on a hard surface) from a lowish hight by landing on your back/side and slapping your arm out so that you land totally horizontal with the arm taking much of the impact. On a mat this could work well. Probably best to google a judo fall (or any judo guys here?) though rather than just take that as fact!
MischaHY - on 29 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

Personally I just fall and crumple - been doing it for ten years and it seems to work just fine.
d1ce - on 29 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

I'd second Mischa, I've always just fallen and crumpled, admittedly my knees are totally shot so maybe that's not the way to go :)
Simos on 30 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:

I think a judo break fall would be quite tricky from those heights. Maybe if landed on feet and rolled and then did a judo break fall... But not feeling confident enough to try. Also probably I'll just get elbow/shoulder pains then :-)
Simos on 30 Jan 2014
In reply to d1ce:
Haha doesn't sound too encouraging :-)

What do you guys mean by 'fall and crumple' by the way, sounds like what I am doing too...

Just wondering whether landing on feet and then rolling might be better but as it'll take some practice I wanted to check first if anyone had some luck with this or other methods...
Post edited at 01:05
WILLS - on 30 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

I crumple or para roll. Had 2 knee ops so I climb down most of the time. Only fall off 3-5 times in 2 hrs. I try to make the moves controlled as possible. It restricts my grade a bit but I'm not bothered
Nick Russell on 30 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:
> I currently land and bend my knees sideways until i break the fall by hitting the mat with both hands between my knees

This doesn't sound ideal. Bending knees sideways is normally a bad idea (I used to swim a lot of breaststroke, dodgy knees) and landing on your hands transfers impact onto your wrist (my brother broke his wrist from a small fall backwards onto his hands).

The way I always taught people to fall/drop is to land on your feet (still facing the wall, don't try to twist round in the air) and bend your knees to roll backwards onto your bum and forearms/elbows. If it's a big drop just keep rolling onto your back.
Marek - on 30 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

One thing to consider: Are you sure it's the jumping off (OK, the landing) that's causing the sore knees? I get sore knees, but it seems to be related to steep bouldering, particularly if I'm doing a lot of moves where I turn the knee across the body (twisting stresses).
mcstanton - on 30 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

Flexing your knees to that extreme puts a massive amount of stress on them. For example you would never (or shouldn't) perform squats like that. Rolling on to your side mid way through would be preferable - commando style!

Also, try not to land on straight legs and then bend. You lose a lot of the benefit of the cushioning effect.

If its anterior pain, make sure you don't have a quads imbalance. e.g. Vastus medialis.

Unfortunately, if you went to see a medical professional they would tell you not to do something that hurts, or see a physio.....

Hope this helps
Donnie - on 30 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

Don't try to do a judo fall.
hamsforlegs - on 30 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

Marek has a good point; you could be getting hurt during the climbing itself through drop knees, heel hooks etc?

When you land, you should try to roll backward. Dropping down into a squatting position is bad for your knees, your back, and possibly your face if you one day smash it into a knee after a hard fall!

One other thing; if you have generally poor mechanics/movement, then you have less of a natural movement pattern to protect you when doing lots of landings. If you are someone who squats with your knees and thighs rather than with your hips and glutes, then you are probably hammering your knees in both bouldering and daily life. You might find that strengthening your bum and learning to use your glutes more would help, and may even help your cimbing. Obviously I haven't met you so this is just a possibility - may not be relevant.
MonkeyPuzzle - on 30 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

I have dodgy knees generally and they're exacerbated both by landing and doing drop-knees/Egyptians on overhangs. One thing that has markedly helped is doing one legged squats as part of my warm-up and warm-down. Worth a try.
winhill - on 30 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

Ask the wall to set up a top rope so you can be lowered down or climb as a second.
RobertHepburn - on 30 Jan 2014
I have done judo and do jujitsu, but I do not think you want to land straight on your side if you can help it! Personally for bigger falls I "crumple" from a standing to a lying position. Hard to explain, but probably best to watch people and see what works?

Simos on 01 Feb 2014
In reply to Marek:

It did cross my mind too Marek - I don't know for sure, it could be what you said, especially since I almost always downclimb. I'll try to do an experiment and down climb 100% for a couple of weeks, then I'll know.

I guess if it's not from falling, not much I can do then...
Simos on 01 Feb 2014
In reply to hamsforlegs:

Yes it's relevant, thanks. I do naturally squat more with knees/thighs. I might start doing some squats every time and see if things improve.
Simos on 01 Feb 2014
In reply to Nick Russell:

Yes I was thinking that too, especially since I don't see many people in comps landing like I do. I think I'll try to either not do a deep squat if not a big fall or roll backwards as you say. The problem with rolling backwards is that I am sure that sooner or later I will either kick someone in the face, land on someone or even worse, have someone land on me. There isn't always a lot of room....
canadian tim - on 02 Feb 2014
In reply to Simos:

Stretching is often overlooked but is vital to healthy joints. How much stretching do you do?
MischaHY - on 02 Feb 2014
In reply to Simos:

Difficult to explain really, I just used to crashing from mountain biking. Just go floppy.
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Simos on 02 Feb 2014
In reply to canadian tim:

Not enough :) I used to do yoga etc but not anymore. I also significantly reduced the pre-climbing stretching in favour of mobility exercises - I am supposed to stretch after climbing but I only do a few minutes of it. I do warmup properly before trying anything hard though, around 45 minutes or so...

Might try to do more stretching after climbing but don't think it'll help much with what's causing the injury in the first place...
Simos on 02 Feb 2014
In reply to Marek:

Unfortunately I think you might be right - I did a bouldering session last night and today my right knee is quite sore. I did down climb every single problem, so there were no landings that might have caused it.

Actually last night as I have an injury on my arm, I did more work on foot work...
canadian tim - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to Simos:

Hi again, I asked about stretching because I know that tight muscles, particularly referring to knee pain, contribute to the problem. Correct stretching techniques can really help in reducing risk of injury and can help the healing process and reduce pain. My best advice for any climber is to have a daily stretching program for the whole body. There are some great stretches specifically to help with knees but get back into yoga too. Trust me, it helps.
jkarran - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to Simos:

> I currently land and bend my knees sideways until i break the fall by hitting the mat with both hands between my knees (if that makes sense?). Should I be doing something different?

If infrequent small-ish falls are hurting... Probably! Maybe you're twisting your knees slightly as they rotate out to make space for your hands? Perhaps try keeping your knees together, if you need to absorb more energy from the bigger falls then crumple and roll.

> Also, I generally have weak legs - do you think that starting to do some squats etc for strength would help?

Sounds like it's worth a go.
jk
canadian tim - on 03 Feb 2014
In reply to Simos:

+1 for some strength training too.
Simos on 04 Feb 2014
In reply to jkarran:

Thanks, I'll start doing some squats, apparently they 'fix everything' :) I know the conventional advise is not to go beyond 90 degrees but it sounds to me in this case that perhaps full squats with minimal weight (if any) might be better? I usually find that while climbing I need to go beyond 90 degrees so it would make sense to train that I think.

I am pretty sure now it's not the landings causing it - they might be aggregating things for sure though. I'll do another session tonight with 100% down climbing and see what happens...
Simos on 05 Feb 2014
In reply to Simos:

Another bouldering session last night with 100% down climbing confirmed that climbing does cause sore knees.

I am really not 100% convinced that strengthening will solve this (won't hurt either of course) - I might need to examine the way I climb. I am a bit over-obsessed with foot placements at the moment and have been training to use smaller and smaller foot holds, standing right on the point of the foot which allows me to twist a lot - I suspect twisting may have to do with it as well as placing all my weight on a very small surface area of the shoe.

Any ideas are welcome, maybe in addition to stretching/strengthening I need to be a be more "flat footed" for a while to enable the injuries to heal and inflammation to subside?

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