PURPOSE: To examine differences in the forearms of rock climbers using ultrasound to measure the muscle thickness of the finger flexors. METHODS: A total of 33 participants were recruited, 22 climbers (22.23 years; 68% male) and 11 controls (21.8; 55% male). Climbers provided self-reported ratings of their climbing ability, skill level, and preferred mode of climbing (e.g. sport climbing vs. bouldering). Anthropometric measures, including body fat percentage, were measured in all participants. Ultrasound measurements were taken with the participant lying on their back on a padded table with their dominant hand supinated. Muscle thickness measurements were taken at the forearm where a peak of the forearm flexors was identified on the medial aspect of the forearm after a circumference measurement and small mark was made. The distance from the ulna and radius to the muscle-skin interface was measured, as well as echo intensity surrounding the median nerve using a third party program. RESULTS: Approximately 50% of climbers rated themselves as "intermediate", and the other 50% rated themselves as "advanced" climbers, while 77% of the 22 climbers classified themselves as primarily "sport climbers", and 23% classified themselves as "boulderers". Body fat percentages were significantly different at 19.14±6.99 and 30.02±7.6 for climbers and controls. Ulnar and radial muscle thickness values were significantly higher in climbers, 4.23±.39and 2.32±.39, respectively, and 3.61±.6 and 1.84±.31 in controls (p < .001). No differences in echo intensity were observed between climbers and non-climbers. DISCUSSION: The findings suggests that there are differences in flexor muscle thickness observed in earlier stages of rock climbing. Echo intensity of the flexor muscles were also measured, however significant variance in results warrants further investigation. Future studies should consider larger samples to better determine differences among muscle thickness and echo intensity across climbing abilities and mode of climbing, thus allowing for more specific training programs to be developed at each phase of training.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Health Professions and Sciences
Kinesiology and Physical Therapy
Sport and Exercise Science
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Marsala, Michael, "Ultrasound Measured Flexor Muscle Thickness in the Forearms of Rock Climbers" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 6529.