Finger Pain? Don't fear the MD.
It takes years to find that favorite climbing buddy and what is the most common thing that takes them away from you? Injury. Roughly 3 out of 4 climbers are injured climbing and roughly 58% of them are taking anti-inflammatory medications to help with these injuries. With this said, we have a long way to go to be healthy as a sport. With the fear of MDs, many climbers are sitting out WAY too many seasons when we can get them back to climbing with a bit of therapy and home-care to ensure success.
Yes, it is true that MOST doctors will try to protect you by telling you to stop climbing or to take more time off, this is often in your own best interests (as they often do not understand the mechanics of climbing and of what you can and cannot do safely)... This can often lead to an endless stream of summers in which you are sitting around on your bottom watching life go by. This is where I get involved, many of my athletes I give you the ok to so they can continue to climb through some injuries. In the case of more severe ones, we give simple avoidance tactics and a constant stream of rehab to keep their body at 100% while we wait for that finger or elbow. Its not worth it to get back on the wall only to injure something else because we were not using our body while we waited for that tiny joint to heal!
It is VERY important to work with and not against these injuries through the important stages that need aid and support while they repair. With this said, I wrote a finger rehab manual called Climbing Injuries Solved and have updated homework and physiotherapy exercises I give with my e-visits for those who don't know where to begin in their healing cycle.
Viewing your body as a living machine, much is fixable. It’s not always doom and gloom, and if it is, definitely get a second or a third opinion. Much in the climbing injury scene is survivable, even a full pulley tendon rupture. Your fear of seeing a doctor might be founded on removal from your sport, or being told that you cannot climb as hard as you’d like. If one isn’t educated on all things climbing, regardless of if they are in a large or small town, take the time to teach them what you know. It is ok to ask that your doctor look into your injury and the research regarding it and climbing if they would like to help you to heal to your full potential. There are many research references we have included in the back that you can email to them to help them to begin their journey and yours. We can all face it, we are on this journey together as a team.
With that said, and in all truth, I do see why many doctors recommend that climbers stop their favorite sport. For your doctor’s perspective is one of taking the athlete from the sport to protect them from themselves. Perhaps when they finally see after your injury has gotten so severe (without self-care, without icing, without massage, without rehab...hmm that leaves a lot of withouts doesn’t it?!) they finally have to tell you that you now HAVE to be taken out of the sport while it heals. For your own protection. This is entirely reasonable, but lets not view the time off as your one and only homework, it’s just keeping you from making your injury worse while they work to heal it as best they can. With some, time off if their only solution. If this is the case, try a new doctor, or go to the page in this book and get to working on yourself. There are many options and the end solution of “quit climbing” has never been one.
As most of you are starting to glaze over at this point, if I could just state one fact that you need to learn to be your best, it’s that the homework accompanied with taking time off is where the healing and return to sport without injury come in. Fine details that are more important than if you even take time off to mose. If, being the obsessed climber that many are, you ignore your doctors requests, and use your time off as your all encompassing heal-fest, it might just be that the end result is...lets just say -less- than expected.
Not following your climbing-specific doctor’s recommendations in most cases is a recipe for disaster, not success like they have planned out. Most of us are saints with our rehab while the finger is hot and puffy and talking to us with every breath, but usually the case, our homecare gets thrown out the window as soon as the finger stops barking with pain. Do NOT make the assumption that it is healthy and ready to begin your agro addictions once again just because it’s quiet for once. This is especially important with collateral ligament injuries, joint damage, and pulley injuries. This is an injury heading in the right direction if you do your homework and keep your excitement under control. To the horror of your doctor, testing it and climbing on it prematurely, even though you are missing the best park season ever is what leads you and most other injured climbers into the conundrum of constantly repeating injury cycles. Most of you that are injured, and perpetually so, you just can’t resist... And this is what makes us as your doctors, very happy with full waiting rooms and constantly returning athletes. So please, please- listen and hang in there. Pick up another sport for the time being if you must or go to Athletes Anonymous but please oh please just stick with the recipe. Most doctors tell you to to take time off for this reason. To keep you from tarnishing their perfect ratings and allowing you body to heal even though you have a mind to go do the opposite and put some...what is it the new climbers call it, “rage” down on the wall? Again. Lets learn from this and not reinvent the wheel. Wasted time and wasted results we can avoid by taking our time through the steps and having trust in the system.
Did you enjoy this excerpt from Dr. Lisa's Book Climbing Injuries Solved? You can purchase this book through this link OR Contact Dr. Lisa to tell her what you think!