A Few Words to the Wise
Anything is possible with a little elbow grease, patience, and persistence when it comes to problem solving. The goal is to empower you to heal yourself by teaching you how the complicated systems of your body work, specifically in relation to climbing. The future of your climbing is literally in your hands. As an athlete and probable climbing addict, it’s time to take control.
With even a slight gust of wind, you might find yourself on the wrong side of an injury, needing extra help just like I did. Perhaps you realize that you are exactly where you want to be, even if it’s not producing awe and inspiration in others around you but serving them instead. Not every injury should end with the loss of one’s favorite sport. I’ve been told many times that I needed to stop climbing, for my career, for my patients, for my family, but what does that have to do with who I am and what I truly want? Change your life to match what draws you. Forget the rest.
It’s not your orthopedic surgeons job to tell you how to become injury free nor is it your physiotherapists job to do all your rehab for you. Ask yourself if you can implement any of these strategies to avoid this injury in the future. Almost always we are excited and in a hurry however surgery and corticosteroid injections are not the best answer nor are they good for us in the long term. Instead I urge you to exploit your forced time off to ensure you return healthier and smarter that you were before.
Accidents happen, but chronic injuries need the gentle, insightful guidance that a few self care tools and a rehab plan can produce. When you are all healed up and have built your base of successful rehab, the re-injury statistics are in your favor.
Patience and perseverance are the second and third most important aspects of being healthy...After Self-Control that is!
There’s a common misconception that this is a normal part of climbing and that being a climber means one should be constantly in pain and sore to the touch in this region. Wrong. This “normal” needs to be changed. Our forearms aren’t supposed to be wiry, tweaky, rock-hard objects when they aren’t in use. This is a huge waste of strength AND it sets us up for injury (as tight muscle is a weak muscle). Yes, rock hard is great—when you actually need it. Otherwise, it’s depleting your power, strength, and endurance, which prevents you from climbing at your maximum ability.
Time off and surgery are not the answer. Usually.
Some of you haven’t heard much—or anything—about self-care. For one, climbing is a sport of segregation. Breaking off into your own groups and sharing a few boulders or crags is common; we tend not to have a wide variety of new information from people in other places who are also climbing. In addition to not learning from our own kind, climbers tend not to listen to tricks and tools from other sports. If it’s not directly climbing related, it doesn’t count. How could they know? Why would we listen to something that isn’t based on climbing?
Sadly, we’ve missed the boat on many occasions as we choose to focus on strength and power (hangboard, gripstrength, etc). You don’t see an olympic runner just doing the final sprints. Or the football player just doing tackles. They lift, and stretch, and work on tissue resiliency which we also need to include. This disinterest in learning slows our progress as a sport, and now, sadly, we have found ourselves with a high prevalence of injuries and are forced to look outside our small world.
Our sport is growing in leaps and bounds, and it will soon be thriving, but we need to embrace the fact that we can learn a lot from other sports who have grown and evolved to include self-care. We need to learn how our bodies work specific to the movements of our sport and then support them in every way we can, such as taping pulley tendons to prevent rupture.
Most Climbers strengthen an injury prematurely. This just sets you back.
We can learn a great deal about treatments that have worked on other athletes. Lessons learned in other realms (such as triathlon, CrossFit, etc.) may not apply to specifically to us, but some of the self-care modalities do. Instead of saying, “That wrench was used on a truck so it won’t work on my Jeep,” let’s stop a minute and ask why they are using that wrench in the first place and what they are trying to achieve with it. It might turn out to be that yes, it will help us out, and learning to use it will result in one more tool in our self-care toolbox!
We all need to work together to point each other in the right direction.
Want to hear more?