Is Indoor Bouldering Dangerous?

Indoor bouldering is fun, partly because of its simplicity. It does not require rope or carabiners, it can help you fight your fear of heights and prepare you for rock climbing. However, the sport does not look very safe. So, before you hit an indoor bouldering gym, maybe you are wondering: is indoor bouldering dangerous?

Well, this sport is relatively safe. There is very little chance that you will end up breaking a bone or suffering a life-altering injury. More commonly, indoor bouldering can result in some minor injuries.

Indoor Bouldering Injuries

Here are some potential injuries that you may suffer while indoor bouldering. By taking a little care you can avoid most of these injuries. 

  1. Bruises: Anybody who is into this sport will tell you that scrapes or bruises are pretty common. An abrasive material is used to build the climbing wall. If you happen to scrape against the wall, you are likely to get bruises. However, they tend to heal pretty quickly, usually in a few days.
  2. Serious Scraping: Serious scraping is not that common, but it if happens, it can be really painful. It happens when a part of your body slides against the wall. Thankfully, it heals up in a week or two and does not lead to long-term complications.
  3. Ankle Injuries: When you fall from a height, you may end up injuring your ankles. And once that happens, you will be out for at least a week. The severity of an ankle injury depends on how badly you land when you fall. If you break an ankle really badly, healing may take a pretty long time, as long as six months.
  4. Tendon Tears: These injuries result from climbing. Tendons in your shoulders and fingers are more likely to suffer injuries. If this injury is really severe, it can put you out a few months, even a year. So, try your best to avoid these.
  5. Neck Injuries: If you accidentally fall and land head-first, you will have neck injuries. Even if there are soft mats, your body will still be transferred to your neck, and that can result in some serious damage.

Common Causes of Injuries

Is indoor bouldering dangerous? We have seen that some minor injuries are possible. But what are the causes of those injuries? When you go to an indoor bouldering gym, you may worry about the size and thickness of the mats. And that makes sense because if you fall, you will land on the mat.

However, even if the mats are thick and cover a pretty large area, there are other things to think about. Below we are going to point out some other things that can lead to injuries.

Overestimating Your Skill Level

Like all other people interested in bouldering, you ask the classic question: is indoor bouldering dangerous? And when you learn that it isn’t, you may feel tempted to overexert yourself.

If you have not mastered the techniques yet, don’t make the mistake of attempting difficult climbs. Sheer strength is not enough here. If you force your body to perform something without using the right technique, things can go wrong. You are more likely to injure yourself every time you fall.

Overuse of Tendons

Overusing tendons is the most common cause of tendon injuries. Every climber should remember that, unlike muscles, tendons can take a long time, even several years, to build stamina.

For bouldering, tendon strength is even more important than muscle strength. Listen to your body in order to prevent the overuse of tendons. You may end up suffering long-term injury if you ignore the pain in your wrist or elbow.

Here is another piece of advice: unless you have climbed for a few years and built tendon strength, do not start training on a hang board.

Twisting Your Knees

When you are in a drop-knee position, you must twist your foot to compensate for the movement of your knee. An inability to do so can lead to an injury, because in such a case you may end up twisting the tendons.

Walking Under a Climber

When you are in an indoor bouldering gym, it is important to avoid walking under climbers. If a climber falls on you, it will injure both you and the person who falls from the climber. So, as long as you are in the gym, be careful of your movement, even when you are not bouldering.

Read: Can You Wear Jeans Rock Climbing?

Ways to Stay Safe

We have discussed the possible injuries associated with indoor bouldering, and the reasons behind those injuries. Now we will discuss some ways to avoid dangers and boulder safely. But is indoor bouldering dangerous even if you take all precautionary measures?

Well, accidents can still happen. But if you take the precautionary measures seriously, accidents are a lot less likely. Here are some ways to stay safe:

Learn the Right Way to Fall

First of all, learn how to fall from a bouldering wall. As you land, your feet should touch the ground, your knees should be soft and flexible, your arms folded close to your chest. Keep your chin tucked and transfer your body weight to the butt. If you can fall this way, the force will be distributed, and that will prevent your body parts from getting out of shape.

Is indoor bouldering dangerous once you have learned how to fall? An accident is an accident, and it may not be possible to maintain a particular form when you fall. However, by keeping the basic idea of landing feet-first, you can avoid injuries in most cases.

Warm-Up

The act of warming up increases blood flow in your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Here is a routine for a good warm-up: 

  • To smoothen blood flow in your heart, do cardio for three minutes
  • Engage in active stretching for five minutes, paying special attention to your shoulders, hips, and forearms.
  • Easy climbing for a few minutes. The goal is to warm up, not to challenge your climbing abilities.

Know Your Limit

To stay safe, make sure you do not push yourself hard. It is true that the motivation to go to an indoor bouldering gym is to challenge yourself. But if you are unaware of your limit, you risk getting injured. Listen to your body. Do not hesitate to stop when you feel that you need to stop.

Use Proper Techniques When You Attempt Different Moves

Getting the help of a coach is the best way to learn techniques. However, if you cannot afford that, consider watching video tutorials on YouTube. Watch videos of climbing competitions. And, if possible, talk to a climber.

Get a Spotter

In indoor bouldering, spotting is not very common, partly because thick mats are used on the ground. A spotter can be very helpful when you are outside the mat coverage. The person who is spotting you should be very cautious and careful. If the spotter is inexperienced or careless, you are likely to get an injury when you fall. 

Indoor Bouldering Is Safer Than Outdoor Bouldering

Outdoor bouldering is one of the most dangerous sports out there. When people watch videos of outdoor bouldering and think of visiting an indoor bouldering gym, the first thing they want to know is: is indoor bouldering dangerous? The short answer is, indoor bouldering is significantly safer.

Indoor bouldering involves very little risk mainly because of the availability of padding. And if you fall, there is thick foam to land on.

For outdoor bouldering, you have to carry crash pads, and they are not as protective as the cushioning used in indoor bouldering gyms. When you are outdoors, any fall can lead to a major injury.

And taking preventive measures is not very easy. Placing the padding in the right sections of the climb requires strategy, practice, and guesswork.

For all these, outdoor bouldering involves significantly higher risks of mild and serious injuries.

Indoor Bouldering vs Indoor Climbing

Indoor bouldering involves a higher risk of minor injuries and a lower risk of major injuries. But when it comes to indoor rock climbing, the opposite is true. Minor injuries do not occur very often, but broken safety rules and belaying errors can lead to fatal severe accidents. Yes, indoor rock climbing is associated with higher chances of severe injuries.

There are two factors responsible for this risk. In a rock climbing gym, you typically fall from a higher-up place. And in general, there are no shock-absorbing mats. However, by following some belaying techniques, you can mitigate the risk.

Indoor rock climbing is still safer than surfing, badminton, or skiing. To this date, no fatal accident has been registered in any indoor rock climbing gym.

Conclusion: Is Indoor Bouldering Dangerous?

Indoor bouldering is fun, but like most other sports, it can be dangerous as well. With that said, this sport is a lot less injury-prone than soccer, basketball, football, or gymnastics. To put it concisely, indoor bouldering is a lot safer than it looks.

With the proper techniques and safety gear, you can avoid the risks of injury. In other sports, avoiding injury is not that easy. So, don’t hesitate to try indoor bouldering. Have fun!

Calvin Rivers

Hey, I’m Calvin Rivers, a climbing veteran with 10+ years on crags and walls around the world. I can’t wait for you to explore our site and fall in love with the outdoors just like I have.

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