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What's your life long ailment and how much does it limit your grades?

Original Post
r m · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Haven't climbed for a few weeks now, severely upset my wrists with some V3 problems. It's a consequence of an innate high wrist laxity, that first manifested with a tear in the TFCC and lunotriquetral ligament.

So here I sit, having diligently done my latest set of physio prescribed exercises, pondering what grades I may aspire to climb. Gone are the carefree days of getting on something and trying as hard as I can, of pulling as hard as I can. Now I know maximal exertion will damage something - not on every move, or every position, but on enough of them to take the fun out of many a bouldering problem.

What I do know is people climb harder than me in sneakers, without chalk, with heavy packs, and probably also with missing toes and fingers and and other far worse issues than I.

Would be heartening to hear how others manage their injuries with their climbing grades. One can go a long way by improving ones skill, though at some point, I figure I'm going to reach that inescapable move where I have to load up that body part that doesn't do so well.

(Giving up bouldering and never passing 5.10 isn't such a bad fate, but there's that draw to improve, to do harder.)

J Squared · · santa barbara, CA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0
r m wrote:

Would be heartening to hear how others manage their injuries with their climbing grades. One can go a long way by improving ones skill, though at some point, I figure I'm going to reach that inescapable move where I have to load up that body part that doesn't do so well.

well I would say, as someone with a full-body disability who is also projecting v3/4.. that your body is incomparable to any grade...and you just don't put yourself in inescapable situations.   my disability prevents me from belaying.. so I only boulder... even there i've had to learn to boulder like a freesoloist.  taking any uncontrolled fall is quite a danger for me, so I downclimb everything and don't take risky moves.  (it helps that i'm 6'2 with a +3 ape so i'm able to static most moves.)

if your tendons are your weak point.. you won't improve by "just pulling harder".  

teqchnuique technique teknik... project v1-2 in your tennies until it's easy.

I do climb without chalk though ;D  it's actually kinda my kryptonite as my disability makes my skin different..   at least that part saves me some money ;)

rkrum · · Here and there · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 75

r m - have you tried branching out and trying other styles of climbing? Crack, slab, etc. Tearing ligaments and cartilage usually isn't something you wanna keep doing again and again..

This is speaking as someone who has had to make pretty big life adjustments as a result of that sort of thing.

r m · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Post surgery(~5-6 years ago now) I got into aid, slabs are pretty good too. Cracks, not so great.

Sadly I moved from a state full of granite to one full of sandstone (and plastic).

I think the most limited future for me is one of aid and classical alpinism, but maybe if I do things just right, ice, drytooling (ergonomic tools are fine) and <=5.11 free climbing are possibilities.

Current hand physio has interesting ideas, she thinks increased shoulder stability will reduce incidences of wrist injuries, so we're going down that path.

Dude Abides · · SoCal · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 1,355

Would be heartening to hear how others manage their injuries with their climbing grades. One can go a long way by improving ones skill, though at some point, I figure I'm going to reach that inescapable move where I have to load up that body part that doesn't do so well.

One climber's opinion and hopeful motivation to other climbers unique injuries/handicaps/mental blocks:

Severely Injured while climbing 13 months ago and climbing better today than ever before. Left ankle and foot does not rotate. Basically only a wiggling toe. Fortunately climbing turns out to be more adaptable than any other activity IMO. Hiking hard yet always "gimping." The best way to put it is that I can climb better than I can walk. I am unable to jog or run for the rest of my life. Yet I was very happy to send a 10d in the Tree recently, which was the proof I needed personally to know that I can climb as good as ever. You learn how to embrace your weakness, and turn them into limited and reliable assets. What is nice about having 4 extremities is that if 1 is total shit you can use the other 3 extremities in unison within the power of the mind. Climbing is more of a mental game than a physical one (exceptions being higher grades such as 5.11 and 12 in my opinion which may have moves that are entirely strength dependent). The sky is the limit as far as I am concerned!

Hope you heal up as best as humanly possible!

Aerili · · Los Alamos, NM · Joined Mar 2007 · Points: 1,880

I deal with a condition called Ehlers Danlos (hypermobility type). While far from as severe as it can get, it impacts my physical life a great deal. I am regularly injured, regardless of how careful I try to be. (I also had a TFCC injury many years ago due to wrist laxity.) It does prevent me from being able to climb harder grades. I rarely climb above 10+/11- mostly because I have learned by trial and error that it's too risky for me. I end up injured. After the TFCC injury which required surgery and took me out for a year, I decided I would cease all attempts at bouldering and most attempts at thuggy sport climbing where big movements are required. I also don't do any single finger moves (and double finger moves are hesitant). But my injury potential is not limited to hands and wrists. It has affected me in both feet persistently, knees, hip, shoulders, elbows, and spine.

My ability to train is really circumscribed. It bums me out, but climbing anything is better than nothing. While I have learned to accept that I usually get some kind of injury 1-2 times a year regardless of how careful I am, I still get frustrated and angry by this at times.

I've also been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition in the last 2 years (although I think perhaps I've had it many years and it just hasn't been caught). That combined with the Ehlers Danlos has meant doing big days of climbing in the mountains in a major exercise in willpower due to fatigue and joint and muscle pain I experience pretty much always. It affects me even for regular cragging days on weekends because I'm always tired from the work week typically. Even camping (while I love it) is rough on me. I don't get the type of rest and recovery I need for a trip since I'm a poor sleeper, partly due to the fact that my body is always keeping me awake with pain signals for no reason. The harder the sleeping surface, the worse it is. 

It's not the way I want it to be but I don't have a choice, so I just do the best I can. I persist in my activities because I do love them and I'm stubborn. 

· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0
Brian Abram · · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 674

A friend of mine had a hand amputated at the forearm in a freak zip line accident when he was a teenager. It plopped into the river they were zipping over, so someone dove in and retrieved it. It was reattached in a series of surgeries. He lost a lot of mobility in the hand, and that arm is 4" shorter than the other. But now 10 years later, he works 5.11 on gear

J Squared · · santa barbara, CA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0
Aerili wrote:

I too have EDS...  if you ever want to talk shop...i've found that solving the sleep issue is the most major thing you can do.

you sound like you're going at it pretty gung-ho .. i couldn't imagine doing a day at the crag or camping unless the weather was absolutely perfect and I had the finest air mattress ever made..

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

I have a fun one called dermatomyositis. Diagnosed about 4 years ago. Basically it's an auto immune problem that weakens my shoulders and lats to a large degree. It also gives me horrible dry, cracked, and bleeding hands - regardless of whether I've been climbing. I used to get absolutely destroyed by full body fatigue that would last for weeks, that has thankfully subsided.

My lifetime high grade was 13c sport and 13a trad, although the frequency and haste that I was able to climb routes just a little easier was really what made me proud.

I'm currently trying to get back into the upper 11s and hopefully a few 12s this year. My old onsights are my new projects, so I got that going for me.

Its hard to blame it all on the disease. Return to school, now working full time, buying a house, having a baby, living 50min from the nearest gym, being 39. I can't imagine that I'd be climbing much more than 12b no matter what considering the other variables. 

It shouldn't shorten my life, I still have fun, and I am incapable of getting fat. That plus the fullness of the rest of my life, it's hard to complain.

Molly May · · Bar Harbor, ME · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 15

I also have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, as well as POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). A year ago, I could barely get up a flight of stairs. After putting in a few months of dedicated strength training I tried climbing for the first time this June and had to be pulled up a section of 5.3. I was hooked, though, and I’ve kept at it through the ups and downs of dislocations and bad pain flares. A few months ago 5.7 felt out of the question; this week I climbed a J Tree 10b clean and fell on a 10c. I still have better days and rougher days but overall climbing has given me my life back! For me the key is getting out there almost every day and climbing something, anything—doing my best, having fun, and letting go of the results. I honestly have no idea what grades I’ll eventually be capable of, but as long as I can keep climbing in some capacity I’ll be happy. Slab seems to be the easiest for me because I don’t have to pull hard on any joints. My ligaments are finally toughening up enough to keep my wrists and fingers from dislocating when I crack climb, which I’m extremely excited about!

Somehow my body has miraculously adjusted to sleeping in tents or the back seat of my sedan, and now I actually have more pain/joint dislocations when I sleep in a “real” bed—too soft! 

I’ve never (knowingly) encountered any other outdoor climbers with EDS, so it makes me really happy to hear others chiming in on here. :)

Tony Bob · · Lakewood, OH · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 10

I have two autoimmune disorders (doctors aren't sure why one results years after the other. I can't seem to win a JMT permit lottery but I can win the shit one), Aplastic Anemia and Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. Without getting into the gritty deets, the result is that I am pancytopenic (low whites, reds, and platelets) and I am at ever-increasing risk of blood clots. I manage OK on treatment now but some days I'm huffing and puffing to get up a hill; if I get a cut, I bleed like a stuck pig; if I catch a bug, I can be really waylaid. When I first started climbing I had a Broviac port inserted and the thought of getting it ripped out always scared the bejeezus out of me. I use the months of treatment as motivation push myself and keep up on the Doc's instructions. Someday the piper will come calling but until then I'm going to give it hell.

J Squared · · santa barbara, CA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0
Molly May wrote:

For me the key is getting out there almost every day and climbing something, anything

its good to hear im not crazy about this... i too try to climb every day... if i miss more than 2 days in a row, my callouses start to fall apart.   but if i keep at it daily, i feel almost superhuman compared to when I was first EDS diagnosed and could barely walk 2 blocks.. 

Eric Castanza · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

I deal with joint pain from chronic Lyme most days it's not too bad just some discomfort and only really affects me after a hours of climbing  although I'm limited to about 5.10s-11s

Other days it can be down right nasty and I can bearly make it up a single 5.4-5.6 pitch.

My feet have been sore/crampy for a couple weeks now, mainly around my ankles and the top of my feet. I haven't tried to climbing with the foot discomfort yet but I plain on heading to the indoor gym this Saturday I am hoping the pain doesn't affect the climbing too much.

Deirdre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 10

I have Adhesion Related Disorder as a result of years of endometriosis and multiple surgeries. The adhesions grow like kudzu. The only thing that seems to help is climbing, especially on overhanging walls with compound angles. It tears the adhesions and seems to slow development of the adhesions. I'm terrified that I will develop elbow tendonitis or something similar. My elbows are playing up now. If I do, I am fucked. I also do yoga (lots of twisting) and bodyweight exercises but nothing works like climbing.

Doug Hoyle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

I am 56 years old, and as long as I can remember, my left shoulder would pop out of the socket with the slightest force applied, if I let the surrounding muscles relax.  I had an MRI done about 15 years ago, and there is significant tearing, but I have no idea when it occured, and if it is the cause of the laxity, or resulted from a congenital weakness.

It is at greatest risk if I am at a full hang position.  Pull ups and other exercises which engage all the surrounding muscles keep it stable,  but if it relaxes, it will partially dislocate(painful) and then pop back into place(much more painful).

That said,  overhangs and laybacks are a real challenge for me, as well as some rest positions.  I tend to enjoy slab climbing more than any other,  but still climb whatever is available.  One of the ways I have managed it, is to be very precise in my footwork, and I seem to always find one more foothold than the guys I climb with, so I don't pull with it at full extension.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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