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Just a little nagging (for now)


Original Post
Baba Fats · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

I know this isn't a major injury, but it's something I'd rather address early.  About 3 months ago, my elbow  (more accurately, the muscle in the upper forearm 1/2" below my elbow) started to feel sore and hurt continuously (at 1 point it was hard to stay asleep at night).  I figured it was because I wasn't really exercising the backs of my arms enough.  So I got some better finger bands, a flexbar, and some light dumbells to due reverse wrist curls.  I took a week off of climbing, and felt great.  So I figured that was working.  

But last week that annoying pain started to come back.  Not bad enough to keep me up, but enough to notice.  Obviously, my first though was '"climbers elbow".  But I've read many reports that elbow braces can work in certain situations, but others will actually make the problem worse over time.  Does anyone have experience wearing a brace that can give me an idea of whether or not it's a worthwhile investment.  Or should I just do what I did before and rest my arm for a week or so and do some other exercises for it.

I know that if it's actually bad, I should go to the doctor.  But it's not at that level of pain yet.  And I don't really think it needs any type of imaging.  It's a sore muscle that I feel like a punk for even asking about.  But I'm 30, and have always had some issues with muscles and bones.   

Andrew G · · Silver Spring, MD · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 298

If it is climber's elbow, stay on top of it early before it gets bad. Most helpful info is here: http://drjuliansaunders.com/dodgy-elbows/

From personal experience on other internet research, I've found pure rest isn't necessary, just back off on difficulty for a bit til the exercises have chance to do their job (unfortunately, tendons take way longer than muscles to progress). I use a brace for other activities that aggravate my elbow (like toting around a 1 yr old), but not during climbing.

Baba Fats · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

I wasn't planning to wear it climbing.  But I work in a lab holding pipettes and glassware all day with bent elbows.  I was thinking about wearing it for that.  Good to know I can just climb easier.  I'm ok with that.  Recently I've been in the mindset to push myself that I've been neglecting the new easier problems being set at my gym.  This will give me a reason to see what is else is new.

Did you have it checked out, or did you just work it out yourself?

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 250

I think you should go to the Dr-- only so you can get a script for PT. :) The Dr will tell you to rest it, ice it, take ibuprofen for pain, and come back again in a month if it isn't better. He will not send you to PT... unless you ask for it. And you really should.

You are on the right track with the balancing muscle exercises, but the PT would really get you to do the right ones. I'm not sure fingerbands are doing anything for this issue, for example.

Baba Fats · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

The finger bands are more just for my hands.  They may help a little, but the flexbar and reverse wrist curls are what I really expect the help my elbow.  getting PT may be a good idea.  I'll look into that just so I know what specific motions I should be working on

Andrew G · · Silver Spring, MD · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 298

I went to the doctor, Lena nailed it. Rest is great and all, but as soon as you come back and start climbing hard again, it's probably going to flare back up without PT. If I could afford it, I'd definitely be going to a physical therapist. At least he confirmed the diagnosis though, so I knew what I was working with (or against).

AndyMac · · Center, CO · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 580

A flexbar and an armaid go a very long way.  Most elbow pain is tension on the tendons hence epicondyles from tight muscles.  Relieving that tension and keeping up with it after you've climbed can be the difference. 

Using the flexbar to strengthen the tendons eccentrically helps keep your tissues in good shape, look up tyler (and reverse) twists.  

Simple forearm stretches are well worth the effort after you get off a climb and done with a climbing day.  

An Armaid (the Rubbit is ~$50) is an amazing tool to work those forearm (and upper arm) muscles into nice smooth bands instead of a knotty mess. 

Baba Fats · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

I'd like to see how much my insurance covers PT.  Probably barely.  They wouldn't even cover a follow up apt with a podiatrist.    But it would've nice to know what I'm working with, too.  

I do both of those exercises with the flexbar.  So I'm good with that.  The armaid  might be my next buy

Fritz N. · · Durango, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 115

+1 Armaid Rubbit. Between daily use of it and reverse wrist curls with 8lbs, I recovered completely from some debilitating tendonitis. I wrote a review of the Rubbit here.

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

when touching on yourself for pleasure, you must switch arms utilizing the opposite hand instead. This is certain solution for any "climbing" injury.

Baba Fats · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

Aleks,  it's actually my other arm that hurts

Scott Phil · · NC · Joined May 2010 · Points: 196
Lena chita wrote:

I think you should go to the Dr-- only so you can get a script for PT. :) The Dr will tell you to rest it, ice it, take ibuprofen for pain, and come back again in a month if it isn't better. He will not send you to PT... unless you ask for it. And you really should.

You are on the right track with the balancing muscle exercises, but the PT would really get you to do the right ones. I'm not sure fingerbands are doing anything for this issue, for example.

A good physical therapist--especially one that specializes in Sports Medicine--is well worth it.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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