Campus board advice from the British Mountaineering Council
The British Mountaineering Council has issued important Campus Board advice aimed primarily at children and teenagers. Interview with Dr. Volker Schöffl
One of climbing's most popular training tools is the Campus Board, the apparatus first experimented by the late Wolfgang Güllich at Nürnberg's Campus Centre in the 1980's during his quest to free Action Directe, his undisputed Frankenjura masterpiece.
While the Campus Board is highly effective for specific power gain and improving co-ordination, it is also associated with a high risk of injuries due to the intensive nature of many of its exercises. This danger is aggravated amongst young climbers in particular who have not fully matured and are often unaware of the inherent danger of this training tool.
The British Mountaineering Council has now issued a guidance based on the current state of medical and physiological knowledge about fingers and growth plate development, prepared in conjunction with one of the world's experts in climbing related injuries, Dr. Volker Schöffl. This guidance has recently been approved by the UIAA Medical Commission and while a more extensive paper is being prepared and will be published shortly, Dr. Schoffl has kindly answered a few basic questions below.
For those under 18
Feet-off dynamic campus boarding can permanently damage your fingers!
- Whilst still growing you are at serious risk of injuring the growth plates in your fingers as they will not be fused yet.
- Growth plate injury will mean no climbing for a long time.
- Growth plate injury can lead to serious permanent damage.
- Younger climbers benefit more from improving their flexibility, co-ordination and technique.
- There is NO NEED TO CAMPUS feet-off or dynamically!
While under 18 don’t campus with feet off or dynamically!
For those over 18
Campus boarding can seriously damage your fingers!
- Don’t use a campus board with your feet off, or dynamically, unless you are an experienced climber and fully understand what you are doing.
- Warm up properly, especially the fingers.
- Use the campus board at the beginning of your training session – tiredness increases your risk of injury.
- Don’t do double dynos unless you are very experienced in campus board use.
- Warm down afterwards
INTERVIEW WITH DR SCHÖFFEL
Dr. Schöffl, why the cut-off at 18 years of age. Surely this depends on individual maturity?
Yes, but to get the underlying message across we need something which is simple, and we cannot simply X-ray everyone and then decide whether they can train on a campus board or not.
No need to campus feet-off... don't most people campus feet-off?
This is a good point, but it is important to realise that there are many other exercises that can be done with feet on that are very effective and less dangerous.
Permanent finger damage - what is this statement based on?
More than 10 years experience with patients who are climbers and more than 2000 climbing related injuries.
So how long does it take for serious damage to set in?
This can happen extremely quickly indeed. It is important to realise that most injuries are not acute, but fatigue fractures caused by repetitive stress.
Let's examine a fairly real scenario: someone who trains twice a week for 2 hours, and then climbs outdoors at the weekends, how much time should they spend campus boarding?
In my experience none at all. While there is much debate about how hard a climber should climb before using this apparatus, in most cases there are many other aspects that can be improved on before starting to campus board.