As an innovative exercise therapy, therapeutic climbing (TC) has attracted more attention than ever before in recent years. In this review of the related studies on TC, the authors explore its origin and development; summarize its therapeutic effect in treating depression, low back pain and other diseases; and further analyze its underlying mechanism. According to the literature, TC was primarily applied in the field of orthopedics and then was gradually used in neurology, psychiatry and psychology. It provides a new means for the treatment of depression, lower back pain, multiple sclerosis and other diseases. There are two potential mechanisms: physiological and psychological. In the future, exercise effects, adverse effects and exercise prescriptions of TC should be explored with large samples and high-quality randomized controlled trials.