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Staying healthy
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Oct 13, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: City of Rocks, June, 2012
I want to be able to boulder more often, but it's kicking my ass to boulder more than once every few days. My elbow/tendinitis flares up, remedies? Best ways to strengthen that area? Tyler W
From Utah
Joined Jul 8, 2012
158 points
Oct 13, 2012
Opposition work for sure- reverse wrist curls, chest muscles, etc, etc. Nothing super heavy- just bodyweight stuff to help offset the overdeveloped back muscles.

Ice can help tremendously. I use ice water/hot water in 5 min intervals for 20 minutes at a time. This is my first step if mine flares.

I'd also recommend a good chiropractor- one that specializes in sports medicine would be preferred. Mine works wonders on my arm. Just ask about ART or if they use a graston.

Finally, you need to make sure you're not stressing your tendons- ease into your workouts by warming up gradually and taking it easy. When mine flared badly last year, I took almost two months of slowly increasing difficulty to get back to where I was at previously.
John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined Feb 1, 2004
2,469 points
Oct 13, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: El Chorro
Good advice above. 28 feels a hell of a lot older than 18, so I've had to sort of re-learn how to stay healthy over the last 18 months. Here's what I've learned:

I try to go by the rule of thirds. For every hard climbing session I have in the gym I also have hard workout of opposition muscles. Sometimes I do weights, but it's usually just body weight stuff. The other third of the equation is rest. Running counts as rest, but at least once a week I do nothing more than a casual bike ride to work. So it goes 1. climbing 2. opposition 3. run 4. climbing 5. opposition 6. run 7. rest.

I tend to take a week long trip every other month instead of a lot of weekend trips, so the above schedule works well for me most of the time.

I don't really worry too much about training phases, but I usually have a general idea of what type of training I want to do based on what sort of climbing trips I have planned. e.g. I'm headed to Font at the end of the month so I'm doing a lot of power workouts and bouldering. I try to make my opposition workouts roughly correspond with my climbing- so I'm doing more intense exercises with extra weight and I'm doing low reps per set. I use frteeweights in these types of workouts. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a long trip to CA planned for next summer where I'll be doing long routes. So my opposition days will become more like circuit workouts to increase my cardio fitness and overall fitness. THe climbing workouts will obviously be similar.

I find that if I climb more than two days a week at the gym it feels like I'm climbing 6 days a week outdoors. I spent three years doing basically noting but climbing outdoors every day and I feel like I lost a lot of general fitness by neglecting my opposition muscles and my running. I now climb less than half as much as I used to and am climbing harder and feel in better overall shape.

Sorry, I sort of rambled a bit there. To answer your question - try pronation and supination exercises with a hammer or broom stick, and spend some time doing something other than climbing. Preferably something active.
Ryan Williams
From London (sort of)
Joined May 10, 2009
1,468 points
Oct 13, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Tough Mantle Problem.  Haven't sent yet...
If you got into climbing a few months ago and really are bouldering V5, which I reckon you probably aren't consistently unless you are one of the mutants that is just born strong and light, you are most likely getting up problems through brute strength. Learn to use your feet and climb more static. That will take some of the workload off of your arms. Lose weight if you are overweight at all. And the reverse wrist curls are key. Do them till the tops of your forearms burn. Do em every day or two.

Don't try to get super strong really fast. Work hard but make sure you rest. Develop your technique and after you have gotten fairly strong slowly (over the course of a year or so) then you can really hammer your workouts to try and become a beast. That's just my opinion, but everyone I know who tries to get strong quickly ends up injured.
Rob Gordon
From Hollywood, CA
Joined Feb 2, 2009
139 points
Oct 13, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: City of Rocks, June, 2012
I'm bouldering consistently in the V4-V6 range at the gym, more around V3 outside. My weight's fine (160/5.11), I'm really working on improving my footwork and technique with some of the more experienced guys I know helping me out. I'll try out the reverse wrist curls.

I'm going to work on doing more sport/trad climbing outside, build up a little slower with more technique and less upper body strength. Bouldering all the time might not be the best idea starting out...

Regardless, I figure I'll be taking a bit of a break with ski season coming on. I'll be doing more full body workouts and less intense climbing.
Tyler W
From Utah
Joined Jul 8, 2012
158 points
Oct 13, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Tough Mantle Problem.  Haven't sent yet...
Sounds like you're doing well. Tendonitis is a bitch. You're young and climbing is one sport that you can get better at as you get older (plenty of guys crushing in their 40s and 50s) so just have fun.

Also forgot to mention, if you can boulder outside more than a gym you'll probably notice a big difference in your tendons. Gym problems tend to be really arm based and there's so many at your disposal, it's easy to overdo it.

Good luck man and keep crushing.
Rob Gordon
From Hollywood, CA
Joined Feb 2, 2009
139 points
Oct 13, 2012
Here's my recipe for curing tendinitis...worked for me after a couple years of being plagued by it. Then it worked for the few subsequent flare-ups. Now I haven't had a problem in years. The trick is it can be hard to make yourself rest, but it's the only way.

Week one: Goal is to get the inflammation down. So 1) Total rest. No climbing, no mtn biking, no tennis, no building projects...you get the point. Really rest it. 2) ALSO, perhaps controversial, dose up on ibuprofen. Just follow the guidelines for max consumption. It's only a week. Make sure you eat at least a couple crackers with each dose. 3) gentle stretching

Week 2: Goal is to keep inflammation down and get some blood moving through there. So 1) pick up your activity a little bit for your hands/arms. But still keep it light. For example opening and closing your hands. 2) back off on the ibuprofen. That stuff can tear your gut apart.

Week 3 and 4: Slowly, very slowly build back up. So 1) maybe do a few pullups, then by week 4 start to do a few super easy boulder problemsl like v0-, then slowly build back up 2) keep stretching 3) if you are sore from the climbing, you pushed too hard.

By the end you week 4, I've always been back to full tilt boogie.

At the outset, 4 weeks seems like a lot. But it goes fast and you can start gentle climbing again in the 4th week.
Joined Nov 30, 2009
33 points
Oct 13, 2012
Good thread. Tendonitis is bitch. I've suffered off and on for 10 years. Has anyone used the "armaid" device? armaid.com/

I'm always leery of getting "gimicked", but this thing actually makes sense.
gary ohm
From Paso Robles
Joined Jul 26, 2010
1 points
Oct 14, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Estes Park Yart
Tyler Needham wrote:
I've just been so addicted that it's been hard to take it slow and ease in to things. I probably need to be taking it a little easier.

That's your solution. The problem w/ tendonitis is that muscle strength develops much more quickly than tendon/fascia strength. You can only push fascia so quickly, which is why developing the ability to put your whole body weight on a couple of fingers and pull on it or throw 700 pounds on your shoulders and squat to the floor with it will take more than a couple of years to do "safely".
Self massage and opposition exercises may help w/ blood flow and taking some tension off the irritated tissue but it's not a substitute for giving the tissue time to heal and adjust to the loads you're asking of it.
Unfortunately it comes down to nutrition, recovery and respecting the basic principles of human physiology.
Like a few other folks have mentioned, there's always things to work on w/ climbing besides grabbing heinous grips. It may not be as fun but it sure beats pulling on small holds until injury forces you to stop climbing completely.
Brent Apgar
From Out of the Loop
Joined Oct 20, 2007
201 points
Oct 14, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: City of Rocks, June, 2012
Can you guys link to any good opposition workouts or have any routines of your own you could share? Tyler W
From Utah
Joined Jul 8, 2012
158 points
Oct 14, 2012
This has done wonders for my elbow issues.

Joined Oct 4, 2012
0 points
Oct 14, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Winter bouldering gets cold.
How has no one mentioned Dr. J's "Dodgy Elbows"? Google will be your friend on this one.

Rest is one way, or you can actually address the problem. Opposition work is key.
Zach Kling
From Indianapolis, Indiana
Joined Nov 25, 2011
42 points
Oct 15, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Push-5.12C at Good Luck Lake Cliffs
Tyler- i've been dealing with elbow pain/tendinitis since I was 12 (curve balls too young, thanks coach!). Things that I do weekly to avoid flare-ups:

push ups, finger extensions with rubber bands, reverse wrist curls, dips or cable push downs (great way to strengthen your triceps and tighten the muscles around your elbow), self massage of the elbow and tendons, ice, and the godsend is the Roleo arm massager ($50- cost of one professional massage).

If the tendonitis is flaring really bad, the best fix is to rest! Keep it from flaring and yu should be able to climb pain free a few days a week. Hope this helps
Justin Sanford
From Broadalbin, New York
Joined May 26, 2009
519 points
Oct 15, 2012
if your elbows hurt... this is the protocol for fixing them.


it was mentioned above... and it really works.
Joined Apr 15, 2012
26 points
Oct 16, 2012
^^+1^^ CraigS.
Joined Apr 30, 2012
18 points
Oct 16, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Grand Teton selfie
I've been taking this supplement, GNC Sport and TriFlex Sport Bundle, that I have found helps a bit with recovery and inflammation. I started taking it after reading this article,


What the other people are saying is true as well, just don't over climb and take your rest days. Tendons take a long time to develop and if you damage them, a long time to heal.
Jeremy Riesberg
From Boulder, CO
Joined Jun 3, 2012
27 points
Oct 16, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Skiing around.
Here is another thing to consider in the world of injury prevention:
I recently ruptured my bicep tendon (long head) that connects the bicep to the shoulder. My shoulder bothered me a little, but never so much that I thought that I was on the road to an injury this severe. Take the time to find out the exercises to prevent this from happening as this seems to be a common climbing injury.
I was completely caught off guard to this and I hope by sharing this others might be able to avoid this in their future.
Darren in Vegas
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined Feb 13, 2006
2,229 points
Oct 16, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Bocan
And be careful not to do what I did. I've battled with golfer's elbow (inside elbow) from climbing on and off for quite some time. I PT'd it, but somehow overtrained the outside tendon. Now my medial is fine and my lateral is hurting, which is something I never had before. Not sure which one was worse, the medial was a sharp pain and the lateral severely restricts my grip strength. Hammer curls are a complete no go.

haha back to tennis elbow PT.

Here's a good MP thread on the subject.

Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Joined Feb 15, 2006
1,392 points

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