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whatdisability


Jul 9, 2010, 1:27 AM
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Help troubleshooting harness difficulties?
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Hey, I just made an account to post this, so I hope this is the right place. I looked through a few pages of old posts (including a very recent one), but I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.

I just started wall climbing at a gym three weeks ago, and I've been going three times a week. For the first two weeks, I used the gym harnesses, which are one-size-fits-all and made entirely of nylon webbing. I got some really nasty bruises in my groin, specifically in the tissue around the tendon that connects the legs to the crotch. (I hope you know what I mean.) I figured it was caused by a combination of the cheap-o harness and my scrawny physique (I'm 5'2" and 110lbs, waist ~25"), so I bought a Black Diamond Primrose AL (XS). I was worried about the design, which has padding mostly on the backs of the leg loops, but at the store I went to, there was only one model with more padding coverage, and it had some other drawbacks: it was a men's harness, there wasn't a whole lot more padding, and it cost 1.5 times as much.

Well, I've climbed three times with the new harness, and I'm still getting new bruises! I'm pretty upset because it's keeping me from enjoying my time at the gym, and I spent $50 on gear for a sport I wasn't sure I'd stick with past the summer! Ladies, what can I do about this? I really think the problem is that there are nylon straps digging into these tendons, especially when I belay others (needless to say, my partners weigh more than me), even if I try very hard to "sit back" into the harness. Is this really a matter of technique (as the men I climb with suggest), and if so, what am I doing wrong? Do I need to get a new harness, and if so, which one would be best? Is there some way I can modify this one so I don't have to spend more? Thanks in advance!


granite_grrl


Jul 9, 2010, 4:35 AM
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Re: [whatdisability] Help troubleshooting harness difficulties? [In reply to]
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For your height your weight doesn't seem low, probably not as scrawny as you think. I'm wondering if it might be a partial problem of your weight vs your partners, and this seems interesting:

whatdisability wrote:
I really think the problem is that there are nylon straps digging into these tendons, especially when I belay others (needless to say, my partners weigh more than me), even if I try very hard to "sit back" into the harness.

When I'm sitting in my harness I'm splitting the weight between my legs loops and across my back. If I stand straight while taking the weight of my belayer it does suck, a lot of pressure where you're getting your bruises. It might be worth while to find a place to sit in the harness where you're free hanging and experiment with you weight distribution on the harness.

Otherwise I don't have other suggestions. I'm a bigger girl so I don't have much experience climbing with and belaying people who weight significantly more than me.


troutboy


Jul 9, 2010, 6:00 AM
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Re: [granite_grrl] Help troubleshooting harness difficulties? [In reply to]
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Excuse the male interruption...

1) Do you bruise easily otherwise ? If not, then you definitely have a harness fit issue that should be easy to fix. If so, it might be a bit harder to fix the problem because finding something to relieve all pressure points enough to prevent bruising will be harder. (NOTE: Sometimes excessive bruising can be due to vitamin/diet issues).

2) Did you hang in the harness at the shop ? If not, you should have. This might be problematic if the shop has only 1 or 2 harnesses and no place to just hang. The only way to tell if a harness will fit correctly is to put in on, adjust it, and hang in it for awhile, maybe up to 30 minutes or more depending on intended use (all day big wall versus gym, for example). You would not buy a pair of shoes without walking in them, right ?

3) You can try adjusting the leg loops to relieve pressure points. Might work.

4) What you have is BD's bottom of the line harness (quite servicable, but very little extra padding). So, if you are a bit more sensitive to pressure points and bruising, you might need a beefier harness, even for the short hang duration you will have in gym climbing. Finding and trying harnesses will be problematic if you do not have a good climbing shop within a reasonable driving distance. OTOH, you may not want to spend $100 or more for a better harness if you are not sure you want to continue climbing.

5) You should be able to get sa good fit. As GG said, 5'2", 110 is not abnormally small for a female climber. Unless you have some odd body type (like larger thighs from skating or biking for example), you should be able to get a good fitting, comfortable harness.

6) Don't call it "wall climbing". It's just climbing (in the gym) or gym climbing. Wink

Good luck finding something that works for you.

TS


lena_chita
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Jul 9, 2010, 7:53 AM
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Re: [whatdisability] Help troubleshooting harness difficulties? [In reply to]
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Your size is not that unusual, or unusually scrawny, when it comes to females in a climbing community.

Sounds like that harness is a poor fit for you. A soft good like that is generally non-returnable once used. REI might take it back, but very few local gear stores would, IMO. So you are out of $50 either way. Lesson learned: buying cheap only saves you money if you can actually use the thing you are buying.

Ideally when you are buying a new harness you should put it on in the store and hang in it (good gear stores have a section of the rope hanging from the ceiling so you can clip in and hang), because harness fit is more than just the waist size. It is usually a combination of waist size, leg size, and the rise that determine the fit. Just because you are a woman doesn't mean that you should stick to only female harness models, sometimes the men's version would fit better, and a lot of times there are unisex versions, too.

What you can do for now, if you aren't sure you would stick with climbing?I'd say try adjusting the leg loops tighter, so they don't ride up, or looser, so they don't dig in too much (can't say which without trying and without seeing how you actually wear your harness, I've seen people have the loops too tight and too loose, so...) wear thicker pants, or add padding (a few layers of fleece maybe?) that you would wrap around the webbing in the spot that gives you trouble and secure with stitching or tape.

On a general note, while harnesses come in different padding levels, I have never seen a harness that would have padding on the leg loops on the inside of the groin (which is where you are getting tendon bruises, if i understand correctly).


nessie


Jul 9, 2010, 9:13 AM
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Re: [whatdisability] Help troubleshooting harness difficulties? [In reply to]
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Hello!
I am the same height as you and just a littke bit lighter. I've been climbing in and outdoor for over a year now, 3 times a week and I've never experienced any bruising on the inside of my legs. I have a petzl luna harness. It is designed for women and the legstraps are padded. All my climbing partners are between 20 and 30 kilograms more than me. My guess is that you just have the wrong harness. Perhaps you should try to find the petzl one and try it on just to see whether you have the same bruises or not. Good luck and keep on climbing!


whatdisability


Jul 9, 2010, 10:10 AM
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Unfortunately, I can't belay anyone less than 20-25lbs heavier than me because I don't climb with anyone that light, so it would be hard to verify that that's the problem. /-:

But I can work on sitting in the harness better when belaying. I don't notice the problem when hanging in my harnes, in any configuration (unless the leg loops ride up, but that's something I can fix in the air), and I probably am standing up too much.

When you suggested using sitting to troubleshoot an issue when standing, it occurred to me that I might be able to sit while belaying. While my gym does have a clause in the waiver saying we must stand while belaying, I know they don't have a problem with others sitting, and I like to think this would be a pretty good excuse. Maybe it would be easier for me to apply the sitting configuration that's comfortable when hanging to belaying if I tried it sitting before standing. Thanks for the suggestion!


whatdisability


Jul 9, 2010, 10:59 AM
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1) Yes, actually I do bruise unusually easily. I'm in the middle of some testing to determine what bleeding disorder I must have, because I've been in treatment for a Vitamin D deficiency for a while, and the problem's only been getting worse. Still, if I could distribute the weight to pretty much anywhere else, I'd consider it a success.

2) I did do the hang test. I actually tried four harnesses in the shop, which was everything they had in an XS (with a total selection of maybe a dozen styles). This was my second favorite, with the men's harness I mentioned being my favorite. I hung in each of the ones I liked for upwards of 10 minutes, and they both felt plenty comfortable. I think the problem is caused mostly by belaying, which is hard to simulate in a store.

3) Yeah, I'll keep playing with this. I'm thinking that if I tighten the leg loops all the way, they might not be able to even slide into the place where they're giving me bruises.

4) Indeed, I don't want to spend that much (or, ideally, any more)! I suppose that if I found a significantly better harness, I could sell the one I've got for most of its cost, since it's only been used three times. The problem in the store was that even harnesses that were twice the price didn't seem to have any more padding in the area I wanted it, on the leg loops where they attach to the central points of support on the inner side (sorry I don't know what anything's really called). Do you know of any models that might be better for this?

5) I'm mostly worried because if this harness is too big (everything's basically tightened to the max), I can't exactly try a smaller size. I did look at children's harnesses, but they were rated up to my weight and not over that, and I could exceed that with a big meal.

6) Thanks! Yeah, I really have no idea what I'm doing. (-; And I apologize for posting this in the ladies' section if that was the wrong place. I saw other posts about harnesses with suggestions of "try a female one" and assumed that folks divide up when it comes to harnesses. /-:


troutboy


Jul 9, 2010, 11:14 AM
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whatdisability wrote:
1) Yes, actually I do bruise unusually easily.

Well, you might just be screwed then Unimpressed.

Curious, is this happening with a TR (top rope) belay ? I assume you are not lead belaying at this early stage of your climbing.
There should really be little to no force associated with a TR fall (not enough to cause bruising in the "average" person anyway) if the belay is correct (i.e. no excess slack).

Also, you might try a pair of decent padded bike shorts. You could wear them under your normal climbing apparel. You might look dorky, but if it's comfy...

Of course, unless you also bike this mean another cash outlay of $75-100 for an activity you mau not pursue (cheap bike shorts, like cheap harnesses = get what you pay for).

TS


whatdisability


Jul 9, 2010, 11:15 AM
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Sorry about the "scrawny" comment. I don't know many female climbers, and I figured that if I were pretty close to average, then my harness size would be M, but since it's XS, there can't be many adults smaller. . . I guess that wasn't terrific logic.

I'm not really expecting to be able to return it, but I don't really think any other harness I saw in a store would have been much better because, as you said, if there are any with padding on the inside of the groin, they must be uncommon. And I did hang in them in the store, though I don't think hanging's the problem as much as belaying.

I've tightened the leg loops all the way and will see if this helps the next time I climb. I'll also be careful to wear the thickest pants I can. I really appreciate the suggestion of tape/fleece padding, because I was hoping someone would say that was okay. It had occurred to me, but I wasn't sure if that could somehow compromise the safety of the harness or something like that. Thanks!


whatdisability


Jul 9, 2010, 11:23 AM
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Oh, wow, I just looked that one up, and it does look like an improvement. The store I went to only had Petzl harnesses with non-adjustable leg loops, and I couldn't get them onto my legs in the XS, which fit my waist substantially better (figured that was more important for safety). I'll keep an eye out for a good deal on this one, and if I can find one, I guess I'll try to sell the one I've got. Thanks!


whatdisability


Jul 9, 2010, 11:44 AM
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So far, I've only belayed top rope, but I'm actually supposed to learn to lead belay tonight. I've asked my climbing buddies to postpone that until next week, but I am definitely worried about the bruising becoming a bigger problem when someone 20lbs heavier than me falls up to 5ft. . . I think I'm a pretty good belayer; more experienced climbers say I take in the slack a bit too much, and those who are closer to my level haven't complained about anything when they've fallen, so I don't think too much slack is the problem.

I will look into bike shorts, but they'd have to be cheap because I don't bike, and when I did, I never had special clothes for it. I've been going in sweats, so I think I already look like a dork, and it doesn't bother me one bit. (-; Thanks again!


gblauer
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Jul 9, 2010, 3:34 PM
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Ummm...maybe I am missing the point...but...who cares if you have bruises? I have bruises all over my body from the last four weeks of climbing at the Gunks. They are like little badges of honor for me.


whatdisability


Jul 9, 2010, 3:39 PM
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Applying pressure to bruises is painful. Continuing to wear the harness applies force to an already injured area, and that hurts. These are not like bruises on the shins that just sit there looking pretty (I agree with you that some bruises can be seen as badges of honor); however, bruises in the groin are very hard to avoid agitating by pressure, especially if I'd like to continue climbing.


Partner macherry


Jul 9, 2010, 5:34 PM
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gblauer wrote:
Ummm...maybe I am missing the point...but...who cares if you have bruises? I have bruises all over my body from the last four weeks of climbing at the Gunks. They are like little badges of honor for me.

bruising can be painful.....trust me


Twobits


Jul 10, 2010, 11:11 AM
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In reply to:
whatdisability wrote:
Oh, wow, I just looked that one up, and it does look like an improvement. The store I went to only had Petzl harnesses with non-adjustable leg loops, and I couldn't get them onto my legs in the XS, which fit my waist substantially better (figured that was more important for safety). I'll keep an eye out for a good deal on this one, and if I can find one, I guess I'll try to sell the one I've got. Thanks!
I am about your size -- a tad shorter and a tad lighter. I found that most "male" harnesses are made for a bigger waist and skinner thighs, while most "female" harnesses are made for smaller waist and bigger thighs. I think you should try on female harnesses, Petzl or other brands, and make sure that when you hang on your harness, it should support you on all three points -- waist and thighs. It may also help when you belay that you bend your knees and squat down a little when you are holding or lowering the climber.


whatdisability


Jul 12, 2010, 8:41 AM
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When I was in the store buying my harness, I tried many types and did a hang test, and they were all comfortable, male and female alike, when they fit properly. Unfortunately, my bruising seems to come from belaying, so I wasn't really able to test that in the store. I do "sit into" my harness when my climber is resting or lowering, but the surprise falls are probably the cause of the bruises. /-: Thanks.


troutboy


Jul 14, 2010, 9:50 AM
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whatdisability wrote:
I do "sit into" my harness when my climber is resting or lowering, but the surprise falls are probably the cause of the bruises. /-: Thanks.

You seem like an intelligent person with a reasonable attaention span (i.e. someone who should be providing a good belay), but there should be no "surprise falls" TRing in a gym where you can see your climber 100 % of the time. Maybe this is a wording problem.

And, as I mentioned earlier, there should be little to no force associated with a TR fall in a gym. If you are feeling enough force to cause bruising (even in your case where you bruise easily), it might be worthwhile to have someone with a lot of experience watch you belay enough to catch a few of these "surprise falls". Maybe there is something you are not quite doing as well as you might. A little too much slack or something ?

Not trying to bash your belaying - I'd climb with you on TR in a gym - just suggesting something.

TS


whatdisability


Jul 14, 2010, 6:48 PM
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Yeah, I've asked some more experienced climbers to watch me to see if they can spot what I'm doing wrong. They say I take in the slack too much, so I'm trying to do less of that, but it's hard when I belay someone who's more chicken-shit about falling than I am (i.e. someone who doesn't like any slack at all). I've also learned to stand close to the wall so that when my climber falls, I don't get smacked into the wall by the force (see, trigonometry is useful!). Standing so close to the wall does mean it's harder to see when my climber falls, and when that fall exerts pressure on my harness, it seems to be distributed solely to the crotch.

In any case, I've added some padding to my harness, and if it happens again, I'll ask one of my more experienced friends for help, again. Thanks!


lkeegan


Jul 14, 2010, 10:32 PM
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I'm proportionally about the same as you (although 5'6") and I have the same harness. It doesn't bruise me but it does get uncomfortable when the leg loops ride up. What I did was adjust the straps that go across your butt so I could pull the leg loops down to about mid thigh, there is less to push on there and for me, its a LOT more comfortable. You may have to adjust this after each climb because they tend to ride up as you climb but it worked for me.


Also, tell your climbing partner to quit hanging on the rope!! thats the easiest solution ;)


whatdisability


Jul 15, 2010, 10:57 AM
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That's a really good point! I'll add that to my list of complaints about my most frequent climbing partner, who does hang on the rope excessively (and weighs at least 25lbs more than me)!

I've added padding to the offending segment of the leg loops and will tighten them lower so they can't ride up, too. Thanks for the advice!


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