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Head and neck injuries with Asana gym mats?
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Feb 14, 2016
Hello,

Over Christmas last year I tried out my gyms news mats from asana (link below) they were significantly stiffer than any mat I have ever used. I fell from the top of one problem, about 15 feet and landed on my feet with this mat. However, the mat was so stiff and I did not tuck and roll, so the force went up through my neck and my head whipped backwards as far as it could then forwards. I had whip lash for several days and was laid up with ice on the couch. Yesterday I went and had anothe neck injury when a high fall was totally unexpected. My neck and upper back are stiff and sore. I'm frustrated with these mats because they are so stiff and if I am to Boulder my hardest I can't always land perfectly. Yesterday I saw a woman fall on these and hurt her ankle, paramedics were called to take her to the hospital.

I can't find any reviews or information on these mats. What is the issue with them? Has anyone more experience with stiff foam vs. the softer types? Im really just trying to find out more about these mats and how they are received in the climbing community. I am thinking about emailing the gym to let them know, although I doubt they would ever change out these mats because they are brand new.

asanaclimbing.com/climbing/dra...
Bjrbferd
From Delaware
Joined Nov 3, 2015
1 points
Feb 14, 2016
So you admit that you fell awkwardly/unexpectedly/ from high up and you think this is the mats fault? I watched a guy give himself an open tib/fib fracture on 16 inches of super soft mat. It's the fall, not the mat. mediocre
Joined Jul 18, 2013
0 points
Feb 14, 2016
The problem is that the mat is so stiff if you don't fall perfectly the force of the fall is not dispersed away from your body. You absolutely must tuck and roll, and I don't think it's reasonable to expect that from every fall. With the softer matts the force was absorbed. So a fall that landed perfectly on the feet (which I did) would have been ok on a softer mat because it would have absorbed the energy. But instead the stiffer mat sent the force back into my neck. I wonder if anyone found these get softer with use? Doesn't seem like they will due to the material type. Bjrbferd
From Delaware
Joined Nov 3, 2015
1 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: A cold one after a trail day at the Red.
Bouldering is about climbing only as high as you are willing to fall. I love lowball boulders outside for that reason. Even in the gym, I will not allow myself to get into awkward positions up high. Eric Carlos
From Slade, KY
Joined Aug 30, 2008
87 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: At the BRC
NEWSFLASH!

Climbing is dangerous.

I wonder if the DAV has studied soft vs hard bouldering floors. Bear?

Maybe take your own pad to supplement theirs? Or be more careful?
Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Joined Nov 29, 2007
517 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Afrika Bambatta V12 Elkland
Way to jump all over the OP everyone. Instead of doing that take a second to consider that every gym has a legal duty to provide safe reliable equipment to its users. The onus is not entirely on the climber here.

I hate to say it but with the explosion of bouldering gyms and an almost total lack of real science regarding optimal landing zone construction, wall heights, setting protocols etc, there is a real risk of a major lawsuit down the road, the kind of lawsuit that could get rid of tall bouldering walls for good. Waivers do not cut it in absolving a gym of responsibility here.

BarbJ, I would talk with your gym about their flooring choice. Often newer installs are stiffer and for example, the Boulder Rock Club, when they installed their new flooring which I think was Asana BTW, put up signs warning climbers that the floor was new and to use caution for the first few weeks. The floor eventually did break in and it's reasonable to fall off it now.

I wrote on this topic last year BTW theboulderingbook.com/2015/03/...
Peter Beal
From Boulder Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
2,056 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: At the BRC
Peter Beal wrote:
Way to jump all over the OP everyone. Instead of doing that take a second to consider that every gym has a legal duty to provide safe reliable equipment to its users. The onus is not entirely on the climber here. I hate to say it but with the explosion of bouldering gyms and an almost total lack of real science regarding optimal landing zone construction, wall heights, setting protocols etc, there is a real risk of a major lawsuit down the road, the kind of lawsuit that could get rid of tall bouldering walls for good. Waivers do not cut it in absolving a gym of responsibility here. BarbJ, I would talk with your gym about their flooring choice. Often newer installs are stiffer and for example, the Boulder Rock Club, when they installed their new flooring which I think was Asana BTW, put up signs warning climbers that the floor was new and to use caution for the first few weeks. The floor eventually did break in and it's reasonable to fall off it now. I wrote on this topic last year BTW theboulderingbook.com/2015/03/...

To me it sounds like the gym was making every effort to provide a safe and reliable environment by installing new state of the art floors.
Are you suggesting that users have no obligation to judge the firmness of the flooring they walk across to get the the boulder problem, no obligation to judge the problem's height and no obligation to consider their own competence at both climbing and falling?
Or that somehow the gym's responsibilities overshadow all of the climber's obligations mentioned above?
Is that even climbing any more?
Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Joined Nov 29, 2007
517 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Me again!
Peter Beal wrote:
Way to jump all over the OP everyone. Instead of doing that take a second to consider that every gym has a legal duty to provide safe reliable equipment to its users. The onus is not entirely on the climber here. I hate to say it but with the explosion of bouldering gyms and an almost total lack of real science regarding optimal landing zone construction, wall heights, setting protocols etc, there is a real risk of a major lawsuit down the road, the kind of lawsuit that could get rid of tall bouldering walls for good. Waivers do not cut it in absolving a gym of responsibility here. BarbJ, I would talk with your gym about their flooring choice. Often newer installs are stiffer and for example, the Boulder Rock Club, when they installed their new flooring which I think was Asana BTW, put up signs warning climbers that the floor was new and to use caution for the first few weeks. The floor eventually did break in and it's reasonable to fall off it now. I wrote on this topic last year BTW theboulderingbook.com/2015/03/...



Holy shit that article is right on. I just saw a gym transition from overhanging bouldering that was safe and you could circuits on to exactly the wall you are describing, and myself and a bunch of the other older climbers have stopped bouldering as a result. While most of the comments in favor of the new tall bouldering wall are full of male bravado as you describe, some setters believe the progressively setting more difficult moves makes for better training routes, but their point is ridiculous when no one wants to try the last move for fear of an out of control fall up high.

About six months ago I saw some nasty stuff. A 10 year old climbed to the top, released, and tried to soften his fall with an arm. This ended in a double compound fracture on his right arm (yes you could see the bone broken into three pieces, it was absolutely amazing).

Here is another piece of insight to this padding/high ball problem: Friction. The gym put in a new and soft pad, but the cover is made out of rubber and has tons of friction, so it doesn't matter how soft the pad is, the friction on the top of the pad can give you a compound fracture!


BarbJ,

My wife has had similar problems with what you describe, and, well, she had to stop bouldering at our gym because of it. It's a shitty solution but one made out of self preservation.
J Q
Joined Mar 11, 2012
58 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Rump roast II, pistol whipped, Indian Creek  Photo...
So get a belay and climb roped routes. mountainhick
From Black Hawk, CO
Joined Mar 19, 2009
222 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: At the BRC
I hate too tall bouldering walls myself.
But blaming the gym if I fall off goes against everything climbing means to me.
Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Joined Nov 29, 2007
517 points
Feb 14, 2016
Over the last 15 years of bouldering in the gym I have seen for better or worse, the evolution of taller problems and changes in padding. The first gym I went to had 1-2' of rounded pea gravel on the floor. I still think this was the best media and is superior to pads as it would conform to your body when landing from an awkward fall and dissipate energy well. That being said, it was hard to clean and stored a lot of loose chalk.

As walls get taller, I think it is incumbent upon climbers to learn how the padding in a given gym or section of that gym will take a fall. I have found stiff pads are fine if you practice good fall technique, but are less forgiving in general. For what its worth I actually prefer stiffer mats as they are more consistent and have less of a tendency to catch your arms and legs.

Learning how to fall properly on a given type of mat is something you should do relatively low to the ground. Once you are comfortable with low falls you can push yourself higher. I think regardless of the type of padding avoiding problems that have the potential to create an off balance fall high up is crucial, unless you are confident in your ability to send.

If you are consistently getting whiplash this probably is a symptom of your technique more than the mats you are landing on. Landing on your feet and not rolling out or at least decelerating into a sitting position is less than ideal. Coming off of a problem is as much of an art as climbing up, and practice makes perfect.
Dan Bachen
From Helena, MT
Joined Mar 8, 2010
376 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Myself & and a drinking horn.
I'm fairly certain I climb at the same gym. Some of the new Asana pads are extremely stiff, but the ones that haven seen more use have broken in rather nice. I find these to be a safer choice than the previous pads used as they were too soft and wore out rather fast. I took falls off the last move of the same problem at least 2 dozen times last Friday onto one of the more firm pads. It wasn't until I landed in between the over lap from new to old pad that I slightly twisted my ankle. I should have taken more care to groom my landing zone.

My opinion of course is strictly subjective. The truth is that bouldering has a high chance of injury and it is a risk we take. Something that happens nearly once a week at said gym. This has not changed with the roll out of newer stiffer mats.
D.Sweet
From Damascus, MD
Joined Nov 18, 2012
20 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogsti...
Just for a little counterpoint, I believe the ruptured ACL injury came from landing on padding that was too soft.

My feet were only at shoulder level and I jumped off in pretty good control. But I jumped from a very wide stem and landed with my feet still wide apart. My ankle rolled inwards on the relatively soft padding, my knee followed suit, and a ruptured ACL was the result. Having bouldered for many years without pads, I seriously doubt I would have got this injury from a low-level jump onto, say, hard ground.

That said, stiff floor padding combined with ever-higher boulder walls is going to result in some injuries, and additional movable pads above the installed floor padding may be almost as important as they are outdoors.
rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Joined Feb 15, 2008
544 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Afrika Bambatta V12 Elkland
>

Mark, I think there's a huge difference between climbing outside and climbing in a gym. Relying on "state of the art" in a field where there is no real science could equal real legal liability down the road and all it takes is a clever lawyer and the right case to radically revise expectations of climber responsibility when it comes to bouldering. Such is far less the case in roped climbing where there is an extensive regimen of materials testing and accepted technique. So "blaming the gym" in a time when designers and owners of gyms are pretty much flying by the seat of their pants with regard to bouldering is a perfectly legitimate response. I'd expect to see more of it going forward unless the industry addresses it directly and scientifically.

For background here's an interesting article athleticbusiness.com/rec-cente...

Pull quote "'If you're getting a climbing wall, flooring should be on the list of things you need," says Marleigh Hill, sales coordinator at Boulder, Colo.-based Eldorado Climbing Walls. But as far as the depth and type, there isn't a standard.'"
That's a red light to a lawyer if you ask me

By the way those drag mats in the link are pretty much universally regarded as very dangerous. The Spot got rid of similar mats ages ago because they injured so many climbers. I am amazed Asana still offers them for sale. Check out this link for some comments about their use. reddit.com/r/bouldering/commen...

Also from the flooring article: "A primary cause of injuries in facilities that don't have surface covering the whole floor is people hitting the pad edge. Drag mats can be moved around, resulting in insufficient coverage." This from Timy Fairfield, a longtime boulderer and floor designer.

My guess is that if you had millions invested yourself in a gym, you might worry less about what "climbing" is and more about your customers having as safe enjoyable and productive a climbing experience as possible.

Dan, you are correct regarding falling technique but the truth is that bouldering falls are not always predictable and regular, especially given current setting and hold trends. Explosive spinning falls at height are more and more the norm.
Peter Beal
From Boulder Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
2,056 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Afrika Bambatta V12 Elkland
Also Mark, I completely agree with you regarding climber responsibility. I just think there's a limit to how far that can go in a man-made setting especially one that is used to introduce climbers to the sport.

The comment about being invested in a gym refers to the generic "you" not you personally :)
Peter Beal
From Boulder Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
2,056 points
Feb 14, 2016
@ Pete 1+ for more science! Given that more and more people are joining this sport it seems like a good study or 2 identifying which attributes of padding correlate with injuries would be timely.

Also, I think that good technique is probably more important in high out of control falls. Knowing how to land correctly face down, on your side, back etc. is a skill just as much as rolling out from a good landing. It may not completely remove risk of injury, but it can mitigate this risk. Keeping your elbows in, some tension in your head/ neck but not to much, distributing the force over large areas like the back and shoulders, and carrying your momentum through all help. I think that these skill sets are problematic to describe in text, but through practice can be learned and become second nature. It is amazing to watch someone who knows how to fall work a problem with a bad landing.

The bottom line is that as the fall consequences in gyms grow, they approach outdoor bouldering more closely. There are problems I have backed off of due to risk of a bad fall outside, and increasingly more in the gym that I do as well.

Dan Bachen
From Helena, MT
Joined Mar 8, 2010
376 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Afrika Bambatta V12 Elkland
Dan, as an author of a book on bouldering I agree completely on the problem of explaining via text! The key factor that I try to explain to clients or in workshops is never try to stick the landing. Always crumple and land on broad surfaces of your body such as your butt, hips, etc. Rolling can work too but is too hard to predict in many irregular falling situations.

@rgold, yes soft padding can be a big problem as well but given the option of a bit too hard or a bit too soft, I'll take the latter every time, especially for steeper walls. Sorry to hear of your injury!
Peter Beal
From Boulder Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
2,056 points
Feb 14, 2016
Mark E Dixon wrote:
NEWSFLASH! Climbing is dangerous. I wonder if the DAV has studied soft vs hard bouldering floors. Bear? Maybe take your own pad to supplement theirs? Or be more careful?


the DAV says to use a rope and a grigri

in squamish we simply put some honey under the pebble we want to pull on

eventually some bear wanders by ... when that happens we go for the send ... and land on the bear if we fall

bears make great pads, being all soft and fuzzy ... just make sure not to land in the honey as youll become bear food

;)
bearbreeder
Joined Mar 1, 2009
3,068 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Hueco
Oh mark, just flaring up the crowd with your HUGE ego. People go the gym to climb risk free and perhaps push the limits with the idea that there is massive pad beneath them.

Not really sure you are qualified to discuss safety and risk in the gym: your profile picture is you climbing jugs in the gym with a helmet on...
grog m
Joined Aug 29, 2012
110 points
Feb 14, 2016
People go the gym to climb risk free and perhaps push the limits with the idea that there is massive pad beneath them.

Here within lies the problem. With bouldering you need to know your comfort zones, ability and have risk assessment skills. Part of the risk is the landing zone. Acting surprised when you take a bad fall onto a hard mat and get hurt is being deficient in at least on of those skills.
mediocre
Joined Jul 18, 2013
0 points
Feb 14, 2016
Getting mad at the gyms, the setters AND the pads at gyms definitely qualifies as first world problems and even fits into the category of the pussification of the US. T Roper
From DC,VA,NM,UT,CT,MA
Joined Mar 31, 2006
1,053 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Me again!
mediocre wrote:
People go the gym to climb risk free and perhaps push the limits with the idea that there is massive pad beneath them. Here within lies the problem. With bouldering you need to know your comfort zones, ability and have risk assessment skills. Part of the risk is the landing zone. Acting surprised when you take a bad fall onto a hard mat and get hurt is being deficient in at least on of those skills.



Sooo, you think it's a problem when people want to train without the risk of danger? Eventually you will grow up and realize that the gym ain't rock climbing, it's just a place to train or have fun. Not everyone is there to compare the size of their shlongs, some just want to practice the hardest movement they can without getting hurt.

Maybe you and the tard roper should take turns putting random objects under climbs like benches, ceramic statues, and giant wood dildos so you can get really good at assessing risk in landing zones. Plus, it would prove how manly you are, in a first world sort of way :0
J Q
Joined Mar 11, 2012
58 points
Feb 14, 2016
J Q wrote:
Sooo, you think it's a problem when people want to train without the risk of danger? Eventually you will grow up and realize that the gym ain't rock climbing, it's just a place to train or have fun. Not everyone is there to compare the size of their shlongs, some just want to practice the hardest movement they can without getting hurt. Maybe you and the tard roper should take turns putting random objects under climbs like benches, ceramic statues, and giant wood dildos so you can get really good at assessing risk in landing zones. Plus, it would prove how manly you are, in a first world sort of way :0


cheese with that whine sir? I hear knitting helps with dexterity.
T Roper
From DC,VA,NM,UT,CT,MA
Joined Mar 31, 2006
1,053 points
Feb 14, 2016
J Q wrote:
Sooo, you think it's a problem when people want to train without the risk of danger? Eventually you will grow up and realize that the gym ain't rock climbing, it's just a place to train or have fun. Not everyone is there to compare the size of their shlongs, some just want to practice the hardest movement they can without getting hurt. Maybe you and the tard roper should take turns putting random objects under climbs like benches, ceramic statues, and giant wood dildos so you can get really good at assessing risk in landing zones. Plus, it would prove how manly you are, in a first world sort of way :0


This has got to be a troll right?
Train without danger? What is manliness in a "first world sort of way?"
mediocre
Joined Jul 18, 2013
0 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Ringo at Riverside Boulder.
I would like to thank JQ and top roper for putting 20 bucks in my pocket just now. I bet my climbing partner this thread would not make 2 pages without you two children fucking it up. Ka Ching! s.price
From PS,CO
Joined Dec 1, 2010
1,381 points
Feb 14, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Hueco
Yeah train without danger. Bouldering in the gym is completely different than climbing outside. When I climb at the gym I expect the pad to prevent injury from a reasonable fall, the original poster said that they landed on their feet.

Question? Do you ever push your limits at the gym? Or is it always a no fall situation?
grog m
Joined Aug 29, 2012
110 points


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