One Climber’s Story: Five Injury Case Studies (II)

 

To round out this series on climbing injuries, the next few entries will get a little more personal as I present and discuss five injuries I’ve incurred during my life as a climber. I share these in the hopes that they might help other climbers/athletes first and foremost to avoid similar injuries. I also hope to help others understand that if and when injuries do occur, they can provide great insights and lessons for us in the moment as well as for our future selves as to what we should and shouldn’t do to avoid incurring such show-stopping injuries again. Every single injury or series of injuries I’ve lived through has led to a greater understanding of my own body and being, informing and shaping my life afterward in ways that I maybe never would have expected or been open to had the injury never happened.

Case Study Two: Torn Muscles in Left Armpit Area (2006)

Injury: I tore three muscles in my left armpit area. I literally felt them tear, one right after the other – a visceral ripping feeling from within that remains alive in my memory whenever I recall the incident, the “RIP…rip-rip” rhythm of the muscle fibers pulling apart.

Causal Factors: This injury resulted from a combination of drinking too much and not sleeping enough and traveling across the country right before climbing, along with inadequate warming up and inclement (cold and damp) weather, along with a lack of conditioning for the style/angle of climbing (nearly horizontal roof), when literally all I ever climbed on at that point was vertical or very slightly overhung routes. I wasn’t really doing anything hard – I was merely reaching to clip a draw – when I felt those armpit muscles on the side hanging onto the rock rip. Because of all of the above factors – a bunch of poor decisions I made – this injury was most likely 100 percent preventable, and 100 percent my fault.

Recovery: This injury hurt terribly, but not when I did it. It was trying to do anything with the torn muscles afterward that caused excruciating pain – things like pulling on a shoe or picking up a bag. Forget climbing, of course! I thought about quitting climbing for good…it was that bad, not only physically, but mentally, as I suffered withdrawal from my normal activity, and I did not have any sort of real training foundation or knowledge (still at that point in the “training for climbing = climbing” camp, supplemented with running and stretching). I didn’t come up with a recovery training plan to help keep me sane; I simply decided to wait it out. I’m sure I ran and stretched (don’t really remember) while I waited.

I didn’t have health insurance at the time, so I never saw a doctor – very stupid, for sure. The decision I did make correctly was to stop climbing and to not climb again for quite some time – not until I could do all of life’s normal activities without pain. After about four months of no climbing entirely, I gradually started back into climbing at about a 5.8 level, and I worked up slowly from there. I was very attentive and took care not to push or overdo it as I moved back into using the area that had been injured. It did not get reinjured, and the following summer, I was back up to climbing at my full capabilities, sending the hardest route I’d climbed in my life – so within 10 months, back to and maybe a little beyond where I’d been when the injury first happened.

For about two years after this injury, I thought all was good/entirely healed, right up until I started learning more about training and
implementing more nonclimbing climbing-specific training methods. This also led me to delve into steep climbing, which soon become first a regular part and then the predominant part of my climbing life. This injury, I believe, continued to plague me and can most likely be linked to my more recent nerve-related injury that I’ll discuss in greater detail in case study number 5.

Register Now! Eight-Week Yoga Series at SoHL in Worland, May 8-June 26

Start, expand, modify, or deepen your practice of yoga poses (asanas) in this 8-week class series taking place at the School of Holistic Living (SoHL) in Worland, Wyoming, appropriate for all levels of yoga practitioners. Whether you want to learn how to  take a pose or sequence to the next level or how to modify that same  pose or sequence to make it more accessible and comfortable now, this  alignment-oriented class series aims to provide you with the tools you  need to get more out of your regular yoga classes, enabling you to  follow along with the teacher’s instructions more easily and to  incorporate your own modifications or advanced refinements as you go.

Each week’s class will focus on one particular area of asana practice,  but will also include a complete series of poses from warm-up to  cool-down, allowing you multiple opportunities to practice each pose and modifications throughout the series. After each class, I’ll stay for 10 minutes (or longer) to answer any questions about the  poses/modifications covered in the class and to assist with pose  alignments if students wish. Email me for information about how to register. Drop-ins will also be welcome if the class isn’t full, but this class will only take place if at least five people pre-register.

Week 1: Saluting the Sun (sun salutations and the poses that they include, breathing, and linking the breath to movement)

Week 2: The Warrior Within (Warrior poses and variations)

Week 3: Standing Tall (standing poses)

Week 4: Balancing Act (balancing poses)

Week 5: Core Strength and Flexibility (backbends and abdominal toners)

Week 6: Changing Perspectives (inversions)

Week 7: Turning and Twisting (twists & hip openers)

Week 8: Moving Forward (forward bends)

Wyoming Women’s Climbing/Yoga Retreat

This past weekend, 14 ladies from around the state of Wyoming gathered for two nights and one (full!) day of laughter, meals, climbing and yoga. After an amazing dinner on Friday night, Saturday kicked off with two, two-hour sessions of bouldering at Elemental Performance & Fitness in Lander — one session for less experienced climbers, and a second session for more experienced climbers. This session eventually turned into “climb like a boy,” with a whole group of ladies practicing dynos out the steepest feature in the gym — awesome!

After a lunch break, we regrouped at Ananda Yoga for a three-hour yoga session, which included cool partner yoga poses. Finally, we savored delicious treats from The Gannett Grill, where everyone received a bunch of goodies provided by prAna, Joshua Tree Skin Care, Clif Bar, Scarpa and Wild Iris Mountain Sports.

Hopefully this will become an annual event, bringing women climbers/yogis from around Wyoming (and beyond?!) together in an awesome, noncompetitive and community-building experience of celebrating the activities we love.

Professional Climber, Climbing Coach & Writer. ACTION Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). Certified Yoga Instructor (RYT-200). Avid Lifelong Learner. Fitness/Training Aficianado. Video Game Nerd.

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