Rock climbing

Hello all,

I had my pacemaker fitted at the beginning of April I’m was normally quite active beforehand & have started running again which has been fine. I really want to go rock climbing & was wondering if this is something that i can do as involves a lot of arm movement obviously & i don’t want to damage anything.

Thank you 



by RedRocksGirl - 2019-06-22 20:27:12

I had my first one put in this last January and have done some rock climbing in the past. I was wondering the same thing. I’ve been working with a massage therapist who is working to loosen up my shoulder and chest muscle and the scar tissue. I’ve been really please with the results the past month and don’t see why rick climbing would be an issue with a pacemaker or ICD.  I’ll probably actually give it a try in the next month! 

PMs and arm movement

by Selwyn - 2019-06-23 07:32:51

I can see that your thoughts are between a rock and a hard place. 

I can't see that rock climbing is a problem. I swim a number of miles per week ( front crawl with arm extended) and play table tennis three times per week at club level,  and if that is not a lot of arm movement I don't know what is! If  you have full arm movements why hesitate? Once leads have been in place for some weeks they are very difficult to remove. 


Rock climbing

by Tanz2310 - 2019-06-23 12:41:48

Thank you as always for the advice, i think I’ll give it a go & see how i get on.

Lead rope climbing

by Theknotguy - 2019-06-23 12:51:41

You shouldn't have any reason not to take up rock climbing again.  I do assume you're doing the type of climbing with a lead rope and not the kind where you're free climbing and hanging on with just your hands or fingers.  

As I understand it, in climbing with the lead rope you do use your hands, but the main muscle groups you're using are your leg muscles.  So that shouldn't be a problem.  

I did talk with a guy who was doing intense weight lifting after he got the pacemaker.  Said he was doing lifting and felt funny but otherwise felt OK.  At his next pacemaker check up the doc sent him to the hospital to get a lead replaced.  He said the only time he was having problems was when he was lifting weights and wanted to hold off.  But his doctor didn't buy the explanation and he got a new lead the next day.  Point being that it takes some extreme exercise to damage the lead.  

The only other thing I can think of is your pacemaker may not respond as your normal heartbeat would.  I got into a situation where I was helping my son move some furniture and my pacemaker wouldn't raise my heart rate because it didn't see any movement.  Just the weight of the furniture wasn't enough to trigger a faster heart rate.  I can still move weight, just can't move fast while I'm doing it as I run out of air because my heart rate doesn't go up as fast just because of the weight only.  So I can see a situation where you're moving up the wall and you just run out of air because there isn't enough upper body movement to make the pacemaker trigger a faster heart rate.  Maybe you should try a climbing wall first and see how you get along?

If you're thinking of doing free climbing I'd hate to get into a situation where you'd be hanging on by one hand and go into a fainting spell. As they say, the fall doesn't kill, just the sudden stop at the end.  

I hope everything else goes well for you.

dont see what would be an issue

by dwelch - 2019-07-04 02:02:35

Was VERY active in my early years with a pacer, when I was 19.  No issues with any kind of activity (that doesnt actually impact the pacer).  Lots of bmx and virt ramp skating which you might not think uses your arms bit its not like a tony hawk video, most of us are bailing out and crashing into the ramp sometimes arms/hands first to soften the impact.  bmx tricks lots of arm activity pulling hard on the bars lots of impact to the body through the hands/arms/shoulders.  rock climbing is generally not as violent.  Where I might worry is if you end up in a sitation where you want to try to cross your arm over and put pressure on the device pocket if you know what I mean, I wouldnt personally worry about that hurting the device itself but it might hurt you, bruise the pocket or cause some pain.  could possibly move the device around, unless you are doing a fast agressive move then you should feel anything going on and hopefully stop if it doesnt feel good.

so long as you dont bang your chest/pacer into the wall, dont see really where it would hurt the device (and that would likely hurt you not the device, you are kinda the padding that protects the device and these things are built tough).

Not a rock climber myself. but have had pacers for over 30 years, was very very active those early years.  I wouldnt be worried about the device, but maybe, probably not, just maybe it will move around in a way that hurts, but you could simulate that by doing those arm stretches where you grab one elbow and pull the arm to your chest, do that with the arm onthe pacer side and thats probably on par with the worst you are going to do short of hitting the device on the wall.  flexing muscles shouldnt do anything (bad)


Okay re-reading you just got the device this year.  They do tell us to take it easy for some number of months to allow the scar tissue to form around the leads.  The doc is going to take the legal or conservative approach and probably not tell you directly if/when you can re-start this activity.  But might give an answer as to how many months in before the leads are secured and things like that.  If they put leads in that are too short or routed wrong then you are going to have problems some day might as well get it over with, if they did their jobs right then it is probably already secured in there, but doesnt hurt to ask.  might even be able to get the answer with a phone call or someone on this site already knows off hand the ball park answer for when the leads are well secured in the heart wall...days? weeks? or months?

There is some risk sure, but you could trip and fall walking down the street too and have a risk of hurting the device (or opening the pocket and inviting an infection, infections anywhere on our bodies are a very big deal with pacemakers, esp related to the pocket).

Next time you are visiting the doc, do pull ups on the door frame, if you are going to break something break it at the hospital/doctors office.

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