If you’ve missed this 40 second video on reddit, I think it’s still worth watching: Bouldering fall impact measured: is injury inevitable? #shorts - YouTube
I used an accelerometer to measure the impact of (indoor) bouldering falls. These falls can generate a lot of impact, almost as much as a car crash at 50 kmh or 30 mph. Not only that, the force goes up and down the spine, which is more dangerous according to Human Tolerance and Crash Survivability (Dennis Shanahan, 2004).
I started getting into this topic after a friend of mine fell and broke both of her arms. She was super strong and I really looked up to her… It was awful to see her in this state, she couldn’t even go to the toilet by herself :-/
Then recently, I went to an orthopedic surgeon because of some hip complications. He mentioned he is seeing more and more boulderers with irreversible joint issues. As a result, I decided to measure the impact of bouldering falls. I measured a couple of dozen falls in a few different ways. I tried the phyphox app on the phone first, but it only went up to 8g’s so I couldn’t get a good measurement. So I used a custom accelerometer that goes up to 16g’s.
I consistently got an impact of between 9g and 12g when jumping out of the bouldering wall and landing on the feet. Rolling would halve the impact. Of course, down climbing is effective too - but I recommend also rolling so that you learn it as a reflex in case of an accidental fall.
I’m convinced this means that jumping down will get you injured sooner or later. Sometimes due to an acute injury, but even if you don’t rupture or break something immediately, the accumulative effect of repeated high impacts will wear down your joints.
After I posted this video, I got a lot of feedback of people who had pain in their knees or back and couldn’t figure out why. Down climbing and rolling seemed to help a lot of them.
Now here’s my main point: most people who start out bouldering have no idea what they’re doing, so they end up copying other people. So if passionate climbers like you display good habits, like proper falling techniques, then newcomers will learn.
It can make a huge difference! I’m seeing the results in my local bouldering gym, more people are displaying proper falling techniques - and less people are getting injured.
If you have any ideas on how to make proper falling techniques the norm, let me know!