Caution: Side Effects May Include…

Caution: Side Effects May Include…

As anyone that reads this blog knows, injury related downtime is nothing new for me.  In fact, injury related boredom is the main reason this blog was created 2 years ago.  Given my history, one might even say that I am a bit injury prone.  Lucky you.

After my brief outing at Flagstaff the other weekend in Colorado I have to admit I was feeling pretty good.  I’ve been battling a nagging finger injury since October which has meant any “training” this winter has been out of the question.  Despite this, I climbed several very crimpy lines during our brief session that were fairly difficult for me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t allow myself enough recovery time from the aforementioned small crimps and my finger injury got much worse while climbing 2 days later.

So here I am once again (still?), staring at 2 big trips coming up in the next 2 months to the Southeast and Joe’s Valley, with no real idea when I will be able to climb anytime soon.  Bummer.

But the main point behind this post was not to elicit sympathy as I know everyone has their injuries to deal with.  The point is more to explore the emotional side effects one experiences when injuries force a break from climbing. 

As with all my injuries, the immediate aftermath finds me feeling very listless and unenthusiastic about much of anything.  Obviously this is partially due to the disappointment that comes along with the actual injury, but it has more to do with the lack of being able to experience the enjoyment climbing brings.  I always miss the physical exhaustion one feels after a good workout the most.  

I think all climbers know what I’m talking about.  Climbing is addicting! I have yet to find any sport, hobby or activity that can bring the kind of enjoyment climbing does.  Frankly, I’m not sure one exists.

My question for everyone out there that has experienced the post injury malaise is this:  what do you do during these times?  Is there a different sport you focus on while you are unable to climb?  Do you take the downtime to focus on things you neglect in the name of climbing like friends and family?  Do you spend all your time perusing super awesome climbing blogs until you are better?

If you are interested in some additional reading on the topic of climbing injuries, there are 2 recent posts around the interweb that you may find interesting.  One is about climbing blogger injuries and the other is great piece from Sonnie Trotter on the importance of taking it easy sometimes as opposed to training all out.

Posted In: From The Narc

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65 Responses to Caution: Side Effects May Include…

  1. eddie February 26, 2009 at 8:09 am #

    Lift weights! The idea behind a good (climbing-performance focused) weight-training program is not to strengthen the climbing-specific muscles, but in fact to complement the asymmetrical gains climbers build up through solely climbing. You’ll return stronger and less injury-prone. More on this if you’re interested.

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    • Narc February 26, 2009 at 8:22 am #

      Of course I’m interested in more!

      I’ve actually been doing some lifting in an attempt to keep my elbow tendinitis in check. So far results have been mixed.

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  2. Sandy February 26, 2009 at 8:34 am #

    I tend to go slightly barmy from not having enough exercise and get very very restless. I know exactly what you mean by becoming unenthusiastic. I agree with eddie, i try to do whatever exercise i can to keep my level of general fitness up and even out my strengths, unfortunately my long time foe is a shoulder so most weight lifting is out, but i do try to work on my other arm as the forearm is 5cm less in diameter than my right and i would love them to be of equal strength

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  3. the dirtbag February 26, 2009 at 8:38 am #

    drink beer…no that was how I used to deal with it. After breaking my hand twice now, I just do other things. Run, bike, hike, scope…

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    • Narc February 26, 2009 at 10:22 am #

      I’m thinking that more beer can only be a good thing. Thanks for taking a break from lurking to comment!

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  4. neadamthal February 26, 2009 at 9:03 am #

    start swimming. it provides the core strength to compliment climbing, plus the cross training helps keep you healthy and injury free.

    i was getting regular elbow strains until i started swimming regularly. now i never get them.

    speaking of which… off to the pool…

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  5. Tom Markiewicz February 26, 2009 at 9:16 am #

    Good question. I’m in the same situation. When you find an answer please let me know!

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    • Narc February 26, 2009 at 10:26 am #

      At least in your case the weather outside in the winter is relatively nice and there are many other things to do. Winter here is USELESS

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  6. Michael February 26, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    Lifting weights is a great idea. You can always get in the mindset that lifting is going to help your larger muscle groups as well as opposing muscles groups and in turn, help your climbing.

    Climbers shy away from lifting because of the stigma that its going to make them heavy and look like Mr. Olympia after a few sessions. Nevermind that even gaining 3 pounds of muscle is a significant accomplishment and hard to do. If you only gain 1 or 2 pounds yet increase your large muscle strength by 20%, then I would say it was quite worth it.

    Sorry about your injuries, keep up the good work bro. I really enjoy this blog.

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    • Narc February 26, 2009 at 10:25 am #

      I really like lifting actually. It is part of the reason I have maintained a base level of strength and power this winter despite climbing almost never. The only problem is that it can cause my elbow tendinitis to act up despite the fact that I let my elbows rest for 6 freaking months last year!

      Thanks for the kind words!

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  7. HoseBeats February 26, 2009 at 9:36 am #

    If you’re not soaking your hand in a cold water bath- via Dave MacLeods blog- then your finger will take a lot longer to heal.
    I strained my right middle finger A2 pulley and was able to continue climbing as long as I was doing the soaks.

    That shit is magic.

    Twice a day for 30 minuets each soak and your hand will feel much, much better. Just stay off those tweaky crimps!

    http://www.davemacleod.com/articles/coldtreatment.html

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    • Narc February 26, 2009 at 10:20 am #

      I’ve been doing the cold water bath and it is what allowed me to keep climbing this winter. However, I think I didn’t warm up enough the day I hurt my finger worse and I have been climbing a bit too hard in general on the days that I do climb. Plus, I haven’t been doing the bath as much as I should…too many distractions.

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  8. climbingholdreview February 26, 2009 at 9:50 am #

    I have a copy of a book called “One Move To Many” which is a great guide to climbing injuries, it should be in most peoples library as most docs don’t know a hand injury from a ham sandwich! It helps if you know what potentially is wrong before getting help

    I run and lift weights when I’m too injured to climb

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  9. David February 26, 2009 at 10:07 am #

    i just had my appendix removed 4 days ago before the surgery i climbed 5 days a week training hard then all of a sudden it stops and now my abdominals are sore and crapped and i fing getting up a sitting down harder then sending v9. i have been soaking my self in climbing media and trying to spend this time with my friends and especially my girlfriend,once you get in the zone of climbing i most certainly know things just get zoned out.so lately i have been trying to fix that while training my opposing muscles in my forearm and just eating healthy, hopefully ill be back on in another week…good luck to you and try to stay sane, i know…its hard.

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  10. steve schultz February 26, 2009 at 10:13 am #

    I started curling. mixed results there, but at least I get free beer. The club has 4 taps all the time.

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  11. Bruno February 26, 2009 at 10:25 am #

    Hi Narc,
    I had to take a whole month off from climbing, because of work not injury, and decided to do a whole month of Kung Fu. It has been way more fun than lifting weights… lifting gets soooo boring after a few days/weeks. The conditioning (at least in the dojo o went to) in Kung Fu is hardcore, very intense, very varied, very functional. Whereas in lifting… I think functional training is in and lifting weights is out.
    So go swimming, roll tires, climb ropes, do claw pushups, … perhaps this injury is a great opportunity, telling you enough of the fingers and put more focus on legs, feet, core, learning to move…

    Enjoy
    B

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    • Narc February 26, 2009 at 10:27 am #

      Interesting idea, I may have to look into that.

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  12. Kate C February 26, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    Ok, not to beat the drum too much, but YOGA is a fantastic sport to alternate with climbing. I may not be the most addicted crazy-strong freaky obsessed climber in the world, but I do, actually, get the same emotional response out of attaining a new, difficult pose as I do figuring out the crux sequence on a hard climb. I often have “Holy crap! Did you SEE what I just DID!?!” moments in yoga just like in climbing. It’s a great strength-building exercise, it helps prevent injuries, it’s more mentally engaging than just lifting weights (ugh) and great for cold winter evenings. Yogis have a tight-knit community just like climbers, and you get to watch half-nekked beautiful people glistening with sweat and wrapping themselves into pretzl shapes.

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  13. Ian February 26, 2009 at 10:45 am #

    If your like me you miss the excitement and adrenaline from climbing as well as being outside. The only thing I’ve found even close to as fun and exciting is downhill mountain biking. Not cross country. Downhill. Try it.

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  14. peter beal February 26, 2009 at 10:50 am #

    Sorry to hear about the injury starting up again. The suggestions listed so far are good but the most useful ones, like Eddie’s, regard weightlifting. Tendinitis in my unprofessional opinion is the result of chronic excessive muscle tension in the affected area and muscle imbalance, both of which are typically found in climbers. Keyboarding on a computer just makes things worse. I would definitely recommend a good sports massage/chiropractic regimen to begin with, followed by targeted stretching and opposition exercises.

    You can also add a link to my blog to build up the good karma 🙂

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    • Narc February 26, 2009 at 11:01 am #

      I had therapy for my elbow a while back. While somewhat helpful, the gist of the information I got while doing it was that there really is no way to get rid of it once you have it. I’ll just continue to focus on being more balanced and warming up better. That seems to have helped mitigate the symptoms enough to allow for climbing.

      Keyboarding at a computer for 10+ hours a day isn’t good for you? Who’d have thought!

      Good call on the link!

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    • dpg February 26, 2009 at 11:42 pm #

      l totally agree with the muscle tension causing problems bigger than youd think.

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  15. Clark February 26, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    The greatest sport/activity i’ve every experienced is by far surfing. Nothing comes close. The feeling one gets when riding the pure energy provided by mother nature is indescribable. Also, the many exotic places you go on with friends in search of better and new waves adds to the joy it brings you. The anticipation of the next days swell coming in with favorable wind and weather conditions gives you a blissful anxiety rarely found anywhere else.

    Snowboarding is pretty fun too.

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    • Narc February 26, 2009 at 10:59 am #

      If only that were an option. As far as I know, surfing hasn’t really caught on here by Lake Michigan.

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      • l0k1 February 26, 2009 at 11:24 am #

        oh, but you’d be wrong!

        my sister’s an avid surfer (of the pacific, not of lake michigan). it truly does seem to be for her what climbing is for me. i think there might be something to that surfing thing. she also does a lot of yoga, just to flog that one, one more time. mountain biking, too, is mentally and physically stimulating (xc, not downhill … no fair riding down if you couldn’t ride it up).

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        • Danny C February 26, 2009 at 12:14 pm #

          I have heard if you head north to Sheboygan, you can catch a wave or two…

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      • Mark February 26, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

        In fact, from what I understand, one of the most famous surfing films “Step into Liquid” featured arguably the worlds best surfers having the time of their lives in Sheboygan, the famous Laird Hamilton included. I can’t say for certainty that that is the truth from first hand knowledge, but during my trip to Hawai’i, people thought I just surfed a lot because I was from Wisconsin and we have the Sheboygan surf, and thats when I was told about the movie.

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  16. Luke February 26, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    I agree with Kate that Yoga is the way to go. My fingers have not been doing well in 2009 and I started going to Yoga classes again. It’s a good way to help build core and your antagonists as well as a sweet way to push your mental limits.

    Also as I wrote recently I have been running a lot. It helped keep my mind off up coming trips since I set a distance goal and went for it. Perhaps if it is to cold to run you could cross country ski? Also I have read about the benefits of skate skiing, which might be more viable in WI.

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  17. peter beal February 26, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    Brian,
    If someone told you there is basically no way to get rid of it, get a different provider. The mental effect alone of such poor advice is very unhelpful. I doubt you have such severe problems that they cannot eventually heal. The problem is giving yourself the conditions to really foster that healing. Get some serious muscle work done and break up the stuff that is tight and full of scar tissue. Then rebuild with an eye to maintaining healthy strength as opposed to self-destructive strength. It’s a fine line telling which is which.

    And yeah, surfing is a longshot, though it is a lot of fun. I did a lot of trailrunning myself.

    Thanks for the link!

    Peter

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    • Narc February 26, 2009 at 11:17 am #

      I guess I overstated what my PT told me. He told me that it was very difficult to get rid of which I think is accurate.

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  18. tissue February 26, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    i’ve never had an injury heal very well when i stopped climbing/exercising for more than a week. never. so, if the problem is, say, a pulley injury i just bath it and start climbing P-E problems open handed in the gym. i also continue to rock front levers on jugs, and do all my other yoga-esque core/shoulder stuff. i basically found a way to ‘climb through it’ that does not exacerbate the problem.

    i’ve had awful elbow tendonitis (video games + interneting + climbing = ouch) in the past, but i’ve found the dynaflex gyro ball and opposites fixed it right up.

    hope your finger gets better before you head out of town.

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  19. sweatpants February 26, 2009 at 12:47 pm #

    Narc, there’s hope for surfing. I live a block off a lake michigan beach here and was taking my dogs down to run around (it was not warm, like probably 29 degrees) and this crazy fucker in a wetsuit (not a drysuit which struck me as crazy) was our there “surfing”. seemed hardly worth it as he would wait for a wave that was like 1 foot tall, ride it for 20 feet, and then repeat. Seemed rediculas, and would not recommend doing it, on lake michigan that is.

    When I took 7 months off about 3 years ago I had just started dating Kristen and had moved in together, so we took advantage by “nesting”. The problem with our “nesting” technique is that it involved ordering pizza 2 or 3 nights a week, eating italian beef and cheese fries another and having a couple other nights to eat other shit food. Long story short I got fat, and don’t neccesarily recommend that. Makes getting back in shape rough.

    I think pretty much all of these people have given good enough recomendations for your off time. But I do understand how shitty it is and wish you a speedy recovery.

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  20. Chris February 26, 2009 at 1:12 pm #

    I shattered my wrist dyno-ing in August 05. Actually, it was the landing that did me in. For 6 months I lifted with the left arm, ran, worked on a one-arm pullup (never did, but got close), and read climbing mags. It sucked.

    I hate the tweak before a big climbing trip. I usually say ‘hell with it’ and go anyway and crank, only to pay for it for months afterwards. If it’s a finger tweak, I stick to the rowing machine and do pullups, pullups, and crunches. Light jug hauling until starting to feel better then slowly work into the crimpers again. Could be as long as several months like that for me, but usually not that long. But yeah, cardio and body weight exercises keep me in decent shape, and psyched enough to be excited to climb again when I can.

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  21. bj February 26, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    aside from figuring out ways to stay fit/strong, being injured is a good time to focus your energy on other things. I had a couple bouts with shoulder and elbow tendonitis, during which I really got into photography. I’d go on climbing trips, and just shoot photos. Most folks don’t have that much restraint though, but it sure beat just sitting around twiddling my thumbs!

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    • Narc February 26, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

      I’m thinking that may be how I deal with my upcoming trip to Rocktown. I can mess around with photos and still enjoy hanging out with everyone.

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  22. Said February 26, 2009 at 1:37 pm #

    I believe every climber at some point in their climbing career will go through a serious injury. Perhaps some will be catastrophic, and others will be fairly mild. I’m lucky enough to have gone through it early in my climbing. I broke my foot on Germ Free Adolescence, and I took a year off from climbing even though I could come back within a few months. I completely disassociated myself with the climbing community and most things climbing related.

    So how did I get through this period of life? I found something which stimulated me mentally. In part the pursuit of climbing is attractive because in its own way is mentally challenging. They don’t call them problems for no reason, I enjoy the process of solving them. In fact I enjoy it so much, that during my time off, I pursued mathematics instead of climbing, and it fulfilled me much the same way climbing has. Except I don’t get ripped from doing mathematics.

    When I was ready to return to climbing, I came back with a vigor I hadn’t experienced before, and my levels of psyche and passion were off the charts. In fact, I found the commonalities between climbing and mathematics are quite deep, and the same approach can be taken to both. As climbers, we sometimes forget to focus on the mental stimulation, and solely push the physical boundaries. Injuries are the universe’s way of telling us to balance our lives a bit.

    -S

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    • sweatpants February 26, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

      did you land on that rock directly below the topout? that thing is brutal!!! i only had one pad and got creeped out topping it out in the sun and decided to come down but there is nowhere to fall but right there on top of that stupid rock. totally rolled my ankle like 3 times in a row.

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    • Bruno February 28, 2009 at 8:12 pm #

      Saidddddd!!! Keep up the psych! Hope to see you in Hueco again!

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  23. Narc February 26, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions, keep them coming if you have something to add.

    Unfortunately I hate running and I sink in water, but I will find something to do. If all else fails, I can keep updating the ole blogsite!

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  24. peter February 26, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    go back to college. read entirely too much, write too much, end up in enormous amounts of debt all in the name of learning. spend all night in the library or binge drink and play frisbee. seems to have worked for me…though i’ve never been seriously injured…

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    • Narc February 26, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

      I think I may just have to go back to binge drinking…worked for 4.5 years…sort of

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  25. Kate C February 26, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    Ok, I’m just really curious now. You hate running (totally reasonable) and you sink in water (happens to the best of us). What problem do you have with yoga? Expensive? Girly? Are you afraid???

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    • Narc February 26, 2009 at 4:46 pm #

      None that I can think of…other than that it would take effort to get started at. I think the trend I’m noticing is that I am just lazy when it comes to anything but climbing.

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      • Kate C February 26, 2009 at 5:48 pm #

        Hmm. Ennui is a powerful de-motivator. Very true.

        I have noticed that a lot of my male friends with type-A personalities are not excited about starting all over in a sport that they don’t know much about. Why go from being great at climbing every night to sucking at yoga (or basketball, or kung fu, or whatever) every other night instead? Doesn’t sound like much fun.

        But, you know how it goes. You give it a week or two. And you’re hooked. You’re totally hooked. And you’re better off for it, physically and mentally.

        Hrm. I feel like I’m starting to sound like a recruiter for a cult. Come! Join us and you will be happy! Learn sanskrit and leave all of your cares behind…

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        • Kate C February 26, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

          Also, it makes me think of this movie. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s on the to-watch list. Climber, filmmaker, and serious skeptic Nick Rosen travels around to world to see if yoga can “transform” him: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2008/10/elefilm-enlighten-up-yoga-does-nick-rosen/

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          • Bruno February 28, 2009 at 8:15 pm #

            Keep pushing the yoga out into the community, it is an awesome thing! It isn’t by chance that its been around for half-a-dozen thousand years!

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  26. Caleb February 26, 2009 at 9:16 pm #

    I start to focus on the things I neglect when I am not injured, such as my photograph business, reading, being responsible around the house, investing in more non-climber friend relationships. I basically get the stuff done I need to be doing. 🙂

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  27. yohans February 27, 2009 at 1:14 am #

    exercise your brain. play chess and read. and weight training… 😉

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  28. eu February 27, 2009 at 4:09 am #

    Currently suffering elbow tendonitis of some kind (how long does it take for that go heal typically?) i have focussed more on training stamina. Lots of biking and running basically…

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    • Narc February 27, 2009 at 7:31 am #

      I’ve had it for 2 years now. After a lot of physical therapy and rest it has gotten better however it still flares up from time to time.

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      • eu February 27, 2009 at 8:44 pm #

        yikes, i was hoping i could go to fontainebleau in 3 weeks. It started 3 weeks ago and although it’s not too bad i definitely feel it the next day after bouldering or hard routes.

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        • Narc February 28, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

          best bet is to make sure you warm up and cool down way more than you are used to. Ice and massage can also help get you through the short term.

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        • Narc February 28, 2009 at 4:13 pm #

          Also, it is best to stop elbow tendinitis in it’s early stages before it get real bad. I know this is said of all injuries but it is specially true with the elbows. Once it gets really bad it is that much harder to get rid of. Plus it will negatively impact your life more than say a bum finger.

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          • eu March 1, 2009 at 11:57 am #

            Thanks for the advice!
            I’m taking this week off climbing. I had to set routes and work this weekend, but the elbow didn’t get worse so i guess i’m heading the right direction. I will think about the massages and ice. And it’s dang hard not to try any of the new routes that are just sitting there while i climb things that i usually just warm up on, but it’ll be for the better in the long run i guess.

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  29. RhoadsClimbs February 27, 2009 at 9:21 am #

    I took a full year off last year from a shoulder blow out. I was sure that it would never heal but one day I noticed it didn’t hurt anymore. It was literally ONE day! I had been going to PT, had an MRI, did all the exercises but nothing seemed to help. The point is that time heals most injuries and nothing else. Do NOT climb!
    Also, there was a period of time when I had to “break” my shoulder in. Meaning that it had been un-used for so long that muscles and tendons were adhered together and I had to slowly break that up (massage helps).
    How did I stay sane during the down time? Cross-training. Find something you like to do and do it. If you lose your overall fitness your recovery will be even longer.
    Some suggestions…….
    -Take up more trad climbing, up the difficulty in placing gear and not in smaller holds.
    -If you’re really washed up take on ice climbing, the axes are your tendons!
    -Maintain your body EVERYDAY, little exercises help, such as shoulder rotation, leg raises, the list goes on forever. Find a routine you like and DO IT!

    Right now I have a bicep strain, but it’s acting like a tendinitis. The pain is in the lower half of the muscle, not an insertion point, weird. It was an acute injury that happened when my feet cut and all my weight went on to one arm. Doesn’t stop me from climbing but it’s there.
    Ideas?

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    • sweatpants February 27, 2009 at 11:20 am #

      ICE sir! lots of it. What is with us midwesterners getting hurt all the time? sucks. I agree with the massage angle as well.

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  30. sweatpants February 27, 2009 at 12:32 pm #

    Perhaps this will help NARC!

    http://www.nutriex.com/s_products.asp

    I mean it says right on it that it “Avoidance of surgery for repeat or chronic injuries may be avoided”, so it apparently helps chronic injuries which for you narc would mean your whole body. I don’t think there’s any way that i can’t purchase this, haha. (credit to Pimpin’ n crimpin’ for finding this)

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  31. RhoadsClimbs February 27, 2009 at 12:50 pm #

    Agreed, I’ve been reading alot about ice lately, apparently it’s the miracle cure. Seriously, it seems to be just that simple.
    Over the last decade or so there’s been alot of surgery happy doctors and patients. Surgery is obviously necessary in some circumstances and usually gets an athlete back to their sport faster than just PT and rest but I think in the long term re-injury is more likely.

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  32. sweatpants February 27, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    It is a miracle cure… watch out though cause it can be cold. I have also just purchased a bottle of Nutriex Sport because I could not resist… I just couldn’t. Shit is not cheap but a bottle is supposed to last a month i guess. I will give a full report… needless to say I plan on climbing just as hard with a Jumbo Love like endurance level in no time flat… consider yourselves warned.

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  33. Craig B February 27, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    Oh man!

    This is one of the best posts in a long time. Having taken off more years than I can remember to raise my family I have found no substitute for climbing other than raising my family. If you start a family, by the time you get back out climbing you will have so many other ailments you won’t even notice your jacked finger.

    It is good to hear that ice is a miracle cure because I was starting to loathe it. Turns out the cure for my lack of climbing malaise has been surrounding me for the past 6-7 months.

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    • Narc February 28, 2009 at 4:04 pm #

      I’ve been trying to go that route but it is too cold in our apartment…

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  34. Healing2 February 27, 2009 at 3:00 pm #

    After my back and knee injuries I did my PT every day, along with hiking and regular exercise. I also looked into things I had an interest in but didn’t pursue, which led me to writing more (although with finger injuries that could be a problem). An occasional beer or some rum also helped;)

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  35. kw February 28, 2009 at 11:08 pm #

    A few years ago I dealt with tendinitis in my left elbow. I had it for over a year before I finally went to PT. Once I committed to treatment, it meant no climbing… on the left side. So I started doing a lot of one-armed climbing in the gym using just my right arm. My PT guy would cringe when I described doing this, but it kept me climbing. I actually had one of my most memorable sends doing a one-arm ascent of some little problem in the gym’s bouldering cave that I worked for a long time. After several months, when I was given the okay to start climbing with both arms, I was surprised how strong I was, having made a lot of gains in my core from the one-armed work. And somehow, I didn’t even blow out my right shoulder in the process.

    Last October I returned from a short roadtrip to Wild Iris / Sinks with a kink in my left shoulder which I of course ignored. By first of November I couldn’t raise my arm over my head without serious pain. It wasn’t a sudden blow-out like Chris Webb Parsons or Ethan Pringle (not like I spend time reading the climbing blogs or anything), so I didn’t go to the doctor. I did force myself to take about 2-1/2 months off from all climbing. During that time, I did twice-weekly complementary light weight training with focus on shoulder exercises pulled from Eric Horst’s books and others, twice-weekly core strength yoga, and regular hill running. My shoulder is pretty much healed now, but more so, both shoulders are stronger and a lot more flexible. So, hopefully more injury resistant. Of course, the hill running has tweaked my right knee…

    For me, I’ve tried to look at injury as an opportunity to work on something else to benefit my climbing while staying as close as possible to climbing or a related training activity. I need to know that I’m always making progress toward my climbing goals on one level or another.

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  36. gr8belayr March 3, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    I went under the knife for a blown disc between L5 an S1 (April 24, 08) I had not actually climbed a route until this January 09. And I’m still struggling to recover any level of fitness or flexibility.

    But the biggest issue for me was mental.

    When I thought that I may never climb again (mind you I was never that good, I hit a 5.10a in Lander on top-rope…once) I was devastated. I had built relationships and community within climbing that I didn’t have ready substitutes for in other areas of my life. I was forced to ask myself, “Who am I, if I never climb again? And what the heck will I do for fun?” I do know that I am more than just what I can climb. I am learning to take joy in just being able to get “out there”, doing something outside with friends. But being unable to climb (or do almost anything) really forced me to look at what is important. I was pretty angry at the “Big Climber in the Sky” for taking away the one thing I thought I really enjoyed, and I wondered why He would be so cruel. Maybe the real cruelty would have been for me to pursue climbing to the detriment of other areas of my life. Maybe I needed to stop growing as a climber so I could grow as a person. And maybe (for most people) climbing injuries are just that, injuries. But for me, it was a chance to walk a different trail…one that I may not have chosen for myself were it otherwise.

    The take-home? Love God, serve others. Places and pastimes(like climbing) just provide a venue to practice that in. Climbing is still important to me, hopefully it will continue to be part of my life – but that’s it…just a part of my life, not the whole. I am now learning to deal with my physical abilities as they are, make improvements where possible, and accept that “It is, what it is”. Acceptance was a huge key for me in allowing myself to explore what else might be out there.

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  1. great scott!: injury, time machines, and saving peter’s shoes « It Came from the Garage - March 2, 2009

    […] a lot of excellent posts recently covering the interwoven complexities of injury, depression, and climbing addiction.  in this pursuit (aka rockclimbings) we all walk a fine line between being hurt and being our […]

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