• Coming Back From Injury
  • Get Trip-Fit Fast
  • Systems Wall and Symmetrical Training
  • Coaching Climbing - How To Train Juniors with Care and Caution
  • Grip Trainers - Gimmicks, or Worth the Money?
  • Hangboarding for Endurance: Not Just for Power
  • Simulation Training: How to Do a Move You Can't Do
  • Planning a Year's Climbing
  • Portable Training Rigs - How to Stay Fit on the Go
  • How to Keep Your Job and Family and Still Climb at Your Limit
  • Suspension Training for Rock Climbing
  • Eat Fat, Climb Harder - The Ketogenic Diet
  • Witness the Mental Fitness: Set Thought Aside to Improve Performance
  • Mental Training Made Simple
  • Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 2
  • Endurance Training Tips for Winter
  • Five Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 1
  • Staying Power - How to Last All Day at the Crag
  • Attack and Defend - Tips for Effective Resting
  • Change Up - Plug the Gaps In Your Strength Training This Winter
  • Training While Injured
  • The Hard Way, Easier: How to Cope with Redpoint Nerves
  • Climbing Literacy - Get Better Instantly by Reading Routes
  • The Numbers Game - How to Use Your Age to Your Advantage
  • Injury-Free Bouldering: 15 Tips to Keep You Healthy and Strong
  • Injury-Free Boarding: 14 Training Tips to Save Your Fingers
  • The Truth About Caffeine and Climbing
  • Pushing Past Your Training Plateau
  • Five Strategies to Sharpen Concentration and Climb Better
  • Five Ways to Get Better Without Training
  • Beat the Burnout: Only Ondra Should Train Like Ondra
  • Effective Gym Training Strategies (for Route Climbing)
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard?
  • Map Out a Plan with the Radar System
  • Managing the Fear of Falling
  • Projecting 101 – 6 Tips For Sending
  • Slowing the Pump Clock - Three Strategies to Prevent the Pump
  • Training on the Go
  • How to Train for Compression
  • Nutrition: Eating Your Way to Better Climbing
  • How to Dyno
  • General Conditioning for Climbers
  • Transitioning from Gym to Crag
  • Staying Strong to Perform Your Best All Season
  • How to Lose Weight for Climbing
  • Building a Better Climber: Final Phase - Peaking
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 7 - Power Endurance Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 6 - Endurance II
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 5 - Strength and Power II
  • The Training Effect - Steve House and Scott Johnston
  • Training for Climbing: Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 4 - Power Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 3 - Strength Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 2 - Low-Intensity Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 1 - Conditioning Phase
  • Gain Confidence by Learning Not to Fear Falling
  • Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Gutbusters - Core Exercises for Rock Climbing
  • Rest ... or Else
  • The Intuitive Approach to Training
  • Free Climbing Tips: Why Get Stronger When You Can Get Better?
  • Crank Like a Russian - How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Mentally Train
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Training While Hungry
  • How To Use Microcycles
  • How to Improve Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • How to Use a Hangboard
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Ultimate Strength
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Training With an Injury
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Video Spotlight
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    Training While Injured


    One way to stay active with a finger injury is to climb hand cracks. Here, Anders Nyberg slots his way up <em> En LIten Bit Granit </em>, Skalefjall, Bohuslan, Sweden. Photo: Shawn Boyle.Managing a climbing injury is tough. When it comes to major injuries, everyone knows that the right call is to take the time needed to rehabilitate, while focusing on other forms of fitness training. However with minor tweaks, it may be possible to keep going without aggravating the injury further.

    For younger climbers, the right advice is to stop and rest. But if those climbers who have many years in the game waited for every little injury to heal, they could easily spend more time resting than climbing. Experienced climbers are often aware which injuries they can climb through and which ones require full rest. By reducing the intensity of training and adjusting your climbing style, it may be possible to maintain or even improve strength or fitness during periods of injury.

    This is not a comprehensive guide to dealing with injuries. Always seek professional advice, but note that medical practitioners often advise against any form of training with an injury because they lack detailed knowledge or under- standing of climbing. You can bend the rules if you your body’s natural pain threshold as a governor.

    INJURY ASSESSMENT > Start by determining whether the injury is chronic (i.e., did it build up over a long period?) or acute (did it suddenly go twang?). The next step is to rank the injury from one to three. One should be for a mild twinge that may only hurt after climbing. Two will be for moderate pain that impairs you when climbing, and three is very painful and may hurt all the time, even outside of climbing.

    RECOVERY PLAN > The first stage is simply to rest, ice, massage and gently mobilize the injured area. The next stage will involve light rehab exercises such as squeeze balls for a finger injury, or rubber-band work and light weights for an elbow or shoulder. The third stage is continuing these exercises and returning to climbing, aiming to rehabilitate the injury rather than to train. This whole process may take only a week or two for a level-one strain, or as long as a year for a level-three injury. The more experienced you are, the more capable you will be of devising a rehab plan yourself, but it’s clearly worth consulting a physiotherapist who has experience with treating climbers. Always go through the above three-stage recovery process, no matter how minor the injury. If you pick the right types of training, you may be able to break out of the third (rehab-climbing) stage much more quickly.

    TRAINING WITH MINOR FINGER INJURIES > With a minor level-one strain it is usually possible to carry out moderate endurance training on routes that are either vertical or gently overhanging and with big holds. Boulderers should stick to mileage on easy problems. Always tape the injured finger and consider splinting it to the adjacent finger for support. Ditch the tape as soon as the injury heals. With moderate level-two pulls, stick to easy, vertical routes or problems and treat the climbing as rehab rather than training. Tape the finger to a popsicle stick to completely immobilize it. Adjust your gripping technique according to the type of finger injury you’ve incurred. If you injured yourself crimping, then it may be possible to climb open hand. Similarly, if you injured your finger on a pocket, you may be able to crimp without pain. If training indoors you can use small holds with your good hand and jugs with your injured hand. Always climb statically and in complete control. If you need to stop and shake out, favor the good arm. Many climbers have found that a climbing trip has cured a minor finger twinge. If the finger injury is more severe, then you may still be able to climb cracks.

    TRAINING WITH MAJOR FINGER INJURIES > With severe level-three finger injuries, do not climb at all. You may be able to perform pull-ups and core exercises such as leg-raises on a bar, but let pain be your guide. Use a weight-lifters’ strap to take the strain off your grip, but avoid training only on one arm as you will develop strength imbalances. If the injury is too severe for any bar exercises then stick to cardio, weight training, antagonist exercises, flexibility and core. Running is the best form of cardio training as cycling may cause your legs to bulk up.

    TRAINING WITH ELBOW INJURIES > Elbow injuries are prone to becoming chronic. Never climb with a major or even a moderate level-two elbow injury. With a very minor level-one elbow injury incurred from a tweak, it may be possible to climb if you go very easy, but if you suspect that it is the first sign of tendonitis/tendonosis (which can come on gradually), stop immediately and commence rehab. Stick to cardio, flexibility and antagonist training during the time out. When you return to climbing after an elbow injury, keep up your rehab, stick to easy climbing and adjust your style. Elbow injuries are aggravated by crimping, pinching or locking off—avoid these moves and develop a more fluid, controlled style. If only one elbow is injured, you can make harder moves with your good arm.

    TRAINING WITH SHOULDER INJURIES > The same overall principles apply to shoulder injuries. Don’t attempt to climb unless they are minor. During the rest and rehab stages, rubber-band exercises are crucial. Avoid any weight training exercises such as bench press and shoulder press that use the shoulders. When climbing through an injury, adjust your technique and remember that shoulder injuries tend to be aggravated by catching holds at full stretch with a straight arm, especially at speed, as well as gastons, press moves and compression moves. In general, stay clear of steep routes or problems with widely spaced jugs, especially if the footholds are poor. Route climbing is less stressful than bouldering. Adopt a static climbing style.


    Watch Hazel Findlay - On The Road To Recovery

    WRIST INJURIES > These are generally caused by using underclings or slopers, especially during dynamic moves. Follow the advice given for elbows and shoulders. Avoid all heavy weight training during rehab and do light weights for rehabilitation.


    Related Articles
    Injury-Free Boarding: 14 Training Tips to Save Your Fingers
    Injury-Free Bouldering: 15 Tips to Keep You Healthy and Strong




    Neil Gresham has been training climbers since 1993. Check out his training DVDs at climbingmasterclass.com.


    This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 207 (January 2013).

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