Coming Back From Injury

You’ve injured yourself, so you stopped climbing, maybe saw a doc and figured out what’s going on. Now what?

Hurry Up, and Wait
The biggest mistake most climbers make with injuries is coming back too soon. Obviously it’s hard to stay away from the sport you love, but if you don’t give an injury enough time to heal, it can easily turn into a chronic issue you will battle the rest of your life. So how do you avoid this? Listen to your body, and let pain be your guide. Most of the time, if you push it too hard too soon, you’ll likely still have pain in the affected area, which is a sure sign you need more rest. It’s best to be patient, and if you got any medical advice, follow it as closely as you can.

Sometimes though, it’s not always so obvious when you’re ready to get back into it. For example, if you were given a cortisone shot (usually in the shoulder or elbow), chances are your pain diminished rather quickly, but you have to remember it doesn’t address the cause, merely the symptoms. Many make the mistake of thinking because their pain is gone they can charge hard again, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. The tissue is now in a weakened state, and you need to ease back into it, while at the same time addressing what caused the problem in the first place.

If you went to see a physical therapist, they probably gave you stretches and exercises to do, so guess what? Do them, as if your life depended on it, because chances are you are serious about climbing and want to get back into it ASAP. Put the time in, even when you are tired, or don’t want to, and you will see positive results. Also, be sure to ask your therapist which exercises you should continue doing for maintenance once you’ve sufficiently rehabbed the injury.

Start Climbing Again (But Easy Does It!)
Aside from not giving an injury enough rest, this is the other area climbers consistently fail at, as few have the discipline to come back slowly. Most try climbing again at a lower level, and it feels good, so they assume all is well and they push it too hard too soon. You likely took time off from climbing while waiting for the injury to heal, and as a result have lost some strength, so you need to build your base again. What does that mean? If you were climbing 5.11, probably nothing harder than 5.9 for a couple weeks while your body readjusts, and then a slow and measured increase in difficulty. Tendons lag behind muscles by about six weeks, so even though you might “feel” stronger quickly, your poor tendons are not on the same page and can be easily re-injured during this time.

Most of us are in this for the long haul, so put the time in now and it’ll pay off down the line.

Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

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