7 Ways to Deal With That Injury

This blog post is for those coaches and those athletes who when I wrote this article in December, I had to tell NOT to compete during the ABS Nationals the past weekend...

I feel bad constantly reminding our community of this but it's my job.

Above all else, the end goal (for all of us) is to ensure that you have a future in climbing. That is what truly matters.

Putting this first and forefront, the enjoyment of our sport for years to come should outweigh a weekend of ego. I've been there in making these tough decisions. My thoughts are with you if you know what I'm talking about.

The past week (at the time it was early Dec 2016), I had seen TWO climbers with growth plate stress fractures and ONE youth who had fibrous growths (in response to inflammation from friction and compression and a hereditary predisposition) who had hopes of competing the next weekend at the USACIimbing ABSNationals. The first was a definitive no (I was proud, he came to that conclusion on his own- not an easy choice for a young athlete with stars in his eyes) and the second, we made the decision together (with him and his mother having the final say) on the nodule which were pressing into his flexor tendons, creating damage with each and every use while climbing. I hope they stuck with our decision and chose wisely, but at the end of the day, I dish out the research and the education and they choose as they will.

Left: Recurring Irritated Growth Plate fracture in a young climber. Culprit: daily basketball not allowing it to heal.

We all know this scenario- Too often we ignore what our body is telling us because we want immediate satisfaction. It's hard to be an athlete and to be told that you cannot compete in a big event, even harder when you are that athletes doctor and you are trying to find a way to ask THEM to make the right decision on their own.

How do you go about telling an athlete

what is best for them??

It's like dangling a carrot- or a candy bar- or a really good climbing flick right in front of your face while you are focused with your heart and soul on something else entirely.

I've devised a list of important notes to help you navigate through these rough waters... Just be advised, they might not take your advice, but a little bit might just put the seed in their mind for future injuries:

1. Focus on the FUTURE.

If we can look through this injury and at the long term goals of the climber in question, we often see that competing or training on this injury would create a setback, or even wreck havoc on future goals.

Finding out that patients highest goals and helping them to create a plan to get there is what they are here for in the first place. Training (or competing) through injury have no place in this step ladder- unless they are about to go into a World Cup event in which they have a really high chance of winning, or they are about to climb to save their own life. These are the only two major reasons I could see allowing a climber to continue through an injury... Especially one that could limit their future in climbing altogether.

2. Learn what's happening under the skin.

It's not often that we think on a cellular level. In injuries, this is often my first task- in teaching you what exactly the injury pertains to, what the tissue looks like before and after the injury, and what we can hope to achieve with unweighting it while it has healed. Injuries that are bone on tendon, include 'snapping' of tissues (tendons, ligaments, or the 'unknown"), or anything making grinding or grating noises probably means that while you are climbing on it, it is continuing to create friction and changes at the cellular level. If a climber can understand that training or competing on something of this caliber, they might decide to hit their homecare more heavily, or to listen to their body before this issue arises.

If the climber is a crimp addict

if they do it all day,

their risks of injury skyrocket...

Much like driving your car with the 'check engine light on'- I can only guess as to what might occur if the athlete were to climb on it, and to give them the end choice of if they are willing to take that risk, and if the risk itself is worth the reward.

3. Let Pain be Your Guide: And plan accordingly.