Is Rock Climbing Bad for the Knees?

Two boys (10-12) climbing rock face in woodland

It would be unfair to say that rock climbing is bad for your knees. But knee injuries are fairly common among climbers, whether indoors or outdoors. If you already have knee problems, you may wish to consider a sport that puts less stress on your knees than climbing does.

Typical Knee Climbing Injuries

According to "Climbing" magazine, your knees are not ideally constructed for the demands of climbing. Climbing maneuvers such as heel hooking, in which you put your heel in a hold at chest level and use it to leverage upward, is a move likely to cause ligament damage. The most common knee injury is a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. This ligament connects the femur and tibia, or thigh bone and shin bone. Another typical problem is damage to the menisci. These are like shock-absorbers and are on the edge of the knee's weight-bearing compartments. If you enjoy climbing and want to avoid knee injuries, "Climbing" magazine suggests using exercise to strengthen the ligaments; running and leg-press machines will do the job. Changing your diet to include more fresh food and supplements that promote healthy cartilage is another injury-prevention measure.