Getting Healthy Again | R2V4 #12

“Due to a lack of gadgetry, the act of bouldering is climbing movement in its most refined state.” – John Gill in Stone Crusade: A Historical Guide to Bouldering in America by John Sherman

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. The following are techniques I have experimented/am experimenting with. Consult a medical professional before following the advice in this blog post.

When it comes to bouldering, I have been a LOT more proactive about my injuries than with other sports. Injury #1: Medial epicondylitis, aka Golfer’s Elbow, aka pain on the outside of your elbow that got so bad a few times I climbed that my arm felt dead for up to an hour after climbing. Recipe? Stop climbing for so long, self-massage, and, the most important, ECCENTRIC-EFFING-STRENGTHENING. Eccentric strengthening (in my experience) is the best thing you can do for any overuse injury, and I’ve had a lot of overuse injuries. Self massage is also good. Rest is good but if you rest forever and just go back to doing the same thing, you will re-injure it. So you also have to learn for techniques to participate in your sport without injuring yourself.

My latest malady, aka the one I’m dealing with right now, is (I’m pretty sure) an aggravation of the teres minor, a narrow shoulder muscle that makes up part of the rotator cuff. I’ve aggravated this muscle by the constant reaching required for climbing, and not reaching correctly, aka not activating my shoulders properly. And now I’m paying the ultimate price, uncertain about my climbing future for the coming weeks and months and, most importantly, uncertain whether I’ll be able to go climbing this Sunday.

But! Knowledge is power. And after scouring the internet and YouTube I’ve found TWO YouTube videos that I think are going to be the key to overcoming this injury, coupled of course with REST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (no more back to back days until I get this shit figured out. In fact, a MINIMUM of two rest days between all climbing sessions and never pushing it once I start to feel pain):

1)

As you can see, this first video is about the subscapularis release for shoulder pain. Is the subscapularis my problem? Not really sure, but whatever tender muscle I’m touching when I do this, it feels painful but great at the same time. Self-massage is real. Self-massage using a natural ant-inflammatory ointment is even realer. Come to think of it, anything with an ointment (or a balm) is about as real as it gets.

2)

It’s HARD AF to find videos on the internet with eccentric exercises for the teres minor. Why? Because most of the clowns on the internet have eccentric motion in their videos, but also concentric motion too! In my experience, if you have an overuse injury THE LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO IS MORE UNNECESSARY, CONCENTRIC MOTION. In case you’re wondering what eccentric vs concentric means here’s a perfect example: When you do a push-up, the part where you’re pushing yourself UP is the concentric motion. The part where you’re lowering yourself DOWN is the eccentric motion. With eccentric strengthening the only thing you want to do (according to the experts I’ve read) is the eccentric motion. So when doing a pushup you would use your knees and elbows or whatever you want to get back to the starting position after slowly lowering yourself down, and then lower yourself down again. And unfortunately, almost all of the videos I found on YouTube that claimed to be eccentric strengthening for the rotator cuff or teres minor ALSO INCLUDE THE CONCENTRIC MOTION. Are these people insane? Except, of course, for the video above, which only focuses on the eccentric motion. Brilliant. I’m going to try it right now. Report to come soon.

I had WAY too much caffeine today. Like, way too much. But now I’ve had a nap and feel more or less normal again. I’m going to try these exercises out, do a little more self-massage and then maybe go out grocery shopping/for yet another walk. Maybe I’ll even meditate. Maybe I’ll go to Trader Joe’s and get snacks and veg the night away. Because that’s therapy, too.

– Wetz

Metacarpophalangeal | R2V4 #10

Waking up on the boat drinking mate. Isn’t that pretty much exactly how I started the last post? I feel a bit like I’m in some sort of purgatory waiting for the next climbing session, but like I’m also TERRIFIED for the next climbing session because of the state of my fingers, see: finger. The swelling has finally gone down in my hands to where I pretty much wake up with no swelling, except that I still can’t close the middle finger on my right hand and there is definite pain in the MCP (metacarpophalangeal) joint, aka the joint closest to the finger tip. This is distressing. Is it a stress fracture? Partial tendon or ligament tear? Micro tears? Strain? I obviously have no idea. All I know is that there is pain. One thing that is GREAT is that now I’ve at least figured out where the pain is, since I’d previously thought the pain was actually in my index finger. Which caused me to leave my index finger out every time I had to crimp, locking off my MIDDLE finger a la Tommy Caldwell, and this is probably what actually led to the injury in the first place. I thought my index finger was messed up, so I start using my middle finger instead. And now my middle is effed. And I’m not sure what to do. I’m not going to STOP climbing. That would just be ridiculous. I have to figure out ways to still climb and let this heal while still pushing down the illustrious, silky, Mesopotamian, mate-laden, ROAD TO V7.

The most distressing thing is that I’m legit kinda scared to go climbing tomorrow. Scared of the pain, scared of hurting myself even more, and also scared of getting up there and not being able to send at all because one tiny little joint on ONE of my fingers is messed up. There’s gotta be a way around this. I will find a way around this. The only thing I know for sure is that just NOT CLIMBING would be the worst decision possible (or possibly a great decision).

Plan: rest one more day (today). Do some hanging/core training today, see how it feels (no crimping involved, obviously). Tomorrow, when I climb, do not do a single closed crimp. Not a single one. Not even if I’m about to send V7 and the only thing between me and the lip is a tiny little chip that’s just begging for the tip of my middle finger. Nope. Stay away. No right hand closed crimping. Maybe a half. Certainly open. And try to leave that middle finger out of it. Here’s the deal about bones: they get stronger when they’re put under stress. Unless the stress is too much, in which case they break. I have broken fingers in the past and it wasn’t a big deal. I broke one of my fingers in high school and didn’t even know it until I broke it again. Rest if you HAVE to. Sometimes rest can be the best decision. But if you rest and then go right back to doing the same exact thing that was hurting you, you’ll likely just hurt yourself again. But if you keep going in a MODIFIED way, then you can climb forever, and send V7, and everyone will love you. But if you quit climbing no one will love you.

Should I splint it???

This Road to V4 is dragging on, isn’t it? Maybe tomorrow I’ll just send The Enigma V4 at the Index River Boulders and be DONE WITH IT. Move on to V5! Start projecting Piano Man V5 at the Morpheus Boulders! Or maybe I’ll just send Mr. Smooth V7 tomorrow and be done with it completely! Although I was thinking: Ideally I should send at least three V7’s to really be able to claim the grade. One crimpy V7, one slopery V7, and one wildcard V7. Because sending one V7 might just mean that you found the EXACT boulder suited to your style, and on a perfect day you were able to send. But you still can’t send V5. And you’re an overall V2 climber. Or something.

I feel like I wanna talk about other stuff in my life, not just about bouldering. So what can I talk about? Well, the weather has been gorgeous in Seattle lately. I’ve been swimming everyday. The climbing gym is also open, though this week I haven’t gone at all due to wanting to become un-injured. The blackberries are starting to get ripe. I have coconut meat in my fridge. I’ve been drinking a TON of yerba mate. I’m going backpacking with my friend Dan in August for a few days and also hope to sail up to the San Juan’s at some point.

One thing I would LOVE to do is come up with some sort of detailed plan for the next few months of my life. So I’ll try a rough esquema right here:

1) This week: don’t climb more than twice (once outdoors and once indoors). Try not to get more injured (but also try to send V4).

2) Next week: Try to climb three times (twice outdoors and once indoors)? Continue to be mindful of fingers on right hand.

3) August: Boulder my ass off, go backpacking, go on a sailing trip to the San Juan’s, surf a little bit, eat really really really healthy.

4) Late August early September: Start prepping for the long voyage. Buy dinghy, Garmin InReach, solar setup, and fix the jib.

5) Late September: Leave south.

Something is still lacking. I can’t figure out what it is. Meditation, maybe. Yoga. Quality time with Quality people. I’m not exactly sure what’s lacking, but I plan on figuring it out.