The fourth blog inundated with my process dealing with a flexor unit strain and recovery methods:
I have to say it, WOOOOOfareakinHOOOOO! This is my second month of complete rest and cross training in the hopes of creating a safe way to come back to climbing and my finger is feeling incredible. In my last post I illustrated a week by week account of everything done to (hopefully) facilitate a speedy recovery, and knock on wood, this may be my last super thorough post about this darn injury! Here’s the “recovery spray”:
Week 8/9: Re-introduction to climbng.
After using the pro-hands gripmaster lightly with my hurt hand without feeling any pain whatsoever, I decided to begin an extremely slow re-introduction to climbing. A local non-climbing gym houses the only rotating climbing wall in western NC, so I jumped on a short-term membership faster than Kelley Burns on my unfinished plates of baked goods. The rotating climbing wall allows you to set the speed as well as incline for your climbing. I began at vertical to slabby climbing for about half an hour each day. After a while the temptation was too great, and after a great warmup, stretching, and drinking enough water, I made the incline steeper and steeper (gradually.) You appreciate your psyche levels so much more, even if you are pulling on jugs, when you climb at 15 or 30 degree inclines and do not experience pain, let me tell you! I felt like a newbie all over again and it was the greatest feeling ever.
The hardest part about getting back into climbing after an injury is discipline and holding back. When you climb for the first time in months and feel “good”, it can be easy to assume that a pain free 10 minutes of jug climbing equals immediate return to projects outside. Thankfully from friends’ experiences and wisdom, I knew this was not the case, so even though I felt awesome and craved more, I took a step away from the machine and continued on with other exercises that were not climbing related.
After a week of ^ that, a friend came into town wanting to climb at Rumbling Bald. I was super hesitant about climbing with him, knowing that I had not yet climbed outside let alone for the past couple of months. I didn’t want to think of myself as anywhere near the same level as him and risk injury, but I went with the mentality that I would warm up well, stretch well, and not push it no matter what. I climbed a v0 probably 10 times, and set my sights and climbing ”cap” on a v3. I did it many times that day without pain, and was extremely tempted to get on harder things. The one word I had to bring to mind was patience! It was SO sick watching my friend Kelley crush though and do all the moves do a v8 he had his sights on before he had even visited the bald. His last burn of the day almost brought the send, but fatigue won and he was psyched to try the next day.
(Also, throughout all of this, I continued taking fish oil, zinc, vitamin C, and a natural anti-inflammatory daily combined with a nightly ice bath. extra cautious? best believe…)
The next day the same warmup was done for me but this time tried to do a crimpy v4 called Dime Crack. This climb was a pretty great test, for my feet cut twice to reset a heel and both times I did not feel any pain in the finger. Newbie psyche was high and I didn’t care at all how hard I was climbing. I was freakin climbing! My joy was comparable to a child in a candy store. A very, very tubby child.
Next we went to Brackish Water, v8 that Kelley was psyched on. He almost day flashed it but sent it a few goes later in such a good effort. I literally was beaming with excitement for him (haha totally cheesy but true) and as he stuck the final move, screamed “oh my FU*KING god I am pumped!” his audience of hikers were impressed for sure. I later tried the first move of the problem, and after figuring out that I had to use a heel by my hand instead of a lower heel I stuck it! I later did all the moves to the problem without my finger hurting. I would be pretty ecstatic if that was my first send after so much waiting to come back to climbing. We both worked out our moves for Pit BBQ too which is a gorgeous climb. It was so awesome to meet new climbers too and see them crush their own new problems. If my rambling doesn’t give it away, I am pretty happy to be back to climbing.
If I had any non-professional advice to give, I would say even with a couple days of climbing outside again and trying harder things, I would still not believe myslef to be 100%. I know my finger strength and muslces are not quite as strong as a few months ago and will probably spend more time taking it slow and knowing that my whole body needs to catch up, as well as the muslce groups specifically for climbing. Good luck to any injured folks out there and stay strong as healthy to all those who aren’t. Hope everyone is still enjoying an awesome season! (ps- check out local crusher and dear friend Drexel Bakker’s latest rocktown/LRC video. areas lookin gawgeous! http://vimeo.com/34483477)