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New and Experienced Climbers Over 50 #8

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Lori Milas · · Joshua Tree · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 190

Ok, I'll bite. Here we go.

Maybe this is a good time to do a check-in?  

Where are you at, at this time, as we begin the journey towards 9000 posts?  Where do you hope to be in 3 months (give or take) when we get there?  Routes? Vacations? Life alterations?

I check in today with a shoulder injury that I've tried to ignore for the last 2 months. I'm pretty depressed about it because as of this morning I cannot even hold my coffee cup without pain.  I don't think this is an 'old' thing... I think it's a 'being stupid' thing.  I just haven't acknowledged the PT work required to stay strong and to be able to use my upper body in this way.  I threw hard on my gym route yesterday, and that was that.  

So, my goal is, by the time we reach #9 ('if' we reach #9)... to be seriously invested in an ongoing PT program, like Esther Smith's.  Hopefully pain-free. And climbing hard.     

How about you? 

ErikaNW · · Golden, CO · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 145

I will check in - thanks for starting the new thread Lori! Definitely be consistent with your PT, but I would also encourage you to work with a PT. Don't just follow a program like Esther's that isn't specific to you without an examination to figure out what might be going on - maybe have your PT look at that program and advise you on what exercises are appropriate for you?

It is starting to be perfect climbing weather in Colorado. I've been getting out a fair bit - exploring some new to me areas. Recently I've fallen in love with an alpine area that doesn't have a monster approach. It's at 12,500 feet, so probably only a couple of weeks left up there. Goals for the fall? Climb as much as possible and stay healthy. Hoping to meet up with Helen on her Great American Road Trip in October. :)

Hope everyone else is getting after it!

wendy weiss · · boulder, co · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 10

Lori, shoulder injuries -- often a torn rotator cuff -- are very common and tough to deal with. Sometimes PT is enough, sometimes (as in my case) they require surgery followed by PT. If this has been going on for two months, I suggest seeing an orthopod (who may recommend an MRI) to diagnose the cause and severity of the problem. If PT is all that's needed, they may prescribe treatment by a physical therapist, who can take you through the exercises at the right pace and establish the right regime for you.

edit: Pretty much agree with what bruno said while I was typing.

rockklimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0

Keep in kind that there is a lot going on in the shoulder and diagnosis such as “torn rotator cuff” is kinda vague.  There are 4 attachments that make up the rotator cuff.  Which one is injured?  A labrum tear is another possibility.  Anterior, posterior...

Specifics are important to determine an appropriate PT regimen.
Get an accurate diagnosis.
Also, do blindly trust the “experts”.  They are not always right.  I had several misdiagnosis’.
And not all PTs know what they are doing.  Some can make it worse.  
I had to do a lot of research to guess at my own injury.  Then confirmed with a feiend who asca PhD in PT, then I went into the next doctor informed.  It helped to get them to explain the injury better.  
They take time and patience and discipline to heal.  Do it the right way so you can keep climbing into old age

Lori Milas · · Joshua Tree · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 190

Thanks everyone.  Just to clarify I have seen my Sports Medicine doc (twice) who did assessments and referred me to PT, which I haven’t followed up on. He also gave me stretching and exercise protocol for “Shoulder Impingement Syndrome” which I haven’t done. I also saw a Chiropractor.  So... when I say “stupid”, I mean I just haven’t taken seriously the work involved in staying strong.  I’ll do what was recommended for 6 weeks and if things are still rough I’ll ask for MRI. 

BTW, Smith’s shoulder video pretty much echoes the advice I’ve been given by PT.

Erika... 12,500 feet? That takes some endurance! 

John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 612
Lori Milas wrote: Thanks everyone.  Just to clarify I have seen my Sports Medicine doc (twice) who did assessments and referred me to PT, which I haven’t followed up on. He also gave me stretching and exercise protocol for “Shoulder Impingement Syndrome” which I haven’t done. I also saw a Chiropractor.  So... when I say “stupid”, I mean I just haven’t taken seriously the work involved in staying strong.  I’ll do what was recommended for 6 weeks and if things are still rough I’ll ask for MRI.

Okay, so you know what you did wrong.

Shoulder injuries don't heal in 6 weeks, especially at our age.  Be thinking about making gradual improvements for a year before you can stop thinking about it.    
As others have said, verify that your doctor and PT know about climbing and climbing addicts.  Do they recommend broad spectrum antagonistic work?  ROM work (see below)?  

At this point (unable to hold coffee) you should be thinking about high reps and very low resistance.  People have given me shit about recommending swimming (I've concluded that those people suck at swimming) but low-effort swimming (freestyle, backstroke and side-stroke) gently strengthens all the shoulder muscles in a very controllable and aerobic way.  There's gentle dynamic stretching at the same time.  If you're a poor swimmer, think of something else that mimics it, or just use floats (usually available at any pool) so you can relax and work on your shoulders.

If the Doc is good and recommended PT and not MRI, you will probably recover without the MRI and surgery.
Lori Milas · · Joshua Tree · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 190

John,

Thank you for the advice on swimming. That is music to my ears!  I never turn down an excuse to spend an afternoon in our beautiful lake.  Now I can say it's 'therapy'.  

A few other things caught my attention:  "verify that your doctor and PT know about climbing and climbing addicts."   I think my doc knows about climbing, but not about climbing addicts.  Seriously.  That word hit a chord with me, because of the lengths I will go to to continue climbing, even through pain, and obvious signals to slow down or stop.  This is a first in my life, and I wonder about it.  

Secondly: "Do they recommend broad spectrum antagonistic work?"   This has got to be the heart of it, John.  Not just for shoulders, but for the whole body.  I thought climbing was such a well-rounded activity, but it's not.  It overuses some muscles, and neglects others... so I don't know if cross-training is enough, or if there is a specific fitness routine designed to keep a climber's muscles balanced and body aligned?  I'd grab that in a hot second.  

 

Greg Opland · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2001 · Points: 312
Lori Milas wrote: Thank you for the advice on swimming. That is music to my ears!  I never turn down an excuse to spend an afternoon in our beautiful lake.  Now I can say it's 'therapy'.  
Lake swimming is getting scary with all the amoeba stories lately.
Take special notice that he said "low effort". Easy does it.

Been through one shoulder repair (around five months to be sort of back climbing, but a few more months to feel solid),
Lately, the good-bad other one is starting to make more noise than I want to ignore/nurse.
The older we get, the more chronic fun we get to deal with. Treat yourself nice!!
Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 1,074
John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 612
Lori Milas wrote: John,

Thank you for the advice on swimming. That is music to my ears!  I never turn down an excuse to spend an afternoon in our beautiful lake.  Now I can say it's 'therapy'.  
Perfect.  Remember to do an equal distance for all three strokes.   Do it aerobically to increase blood-flow and healing.

A few other things caught my attention:  "verify that your doctor and PT know about climbing and climbing addicts."   I think my doc knows about climbing, but not about climbing addicts.  Seriously.  That word hit a chord with me, because of the lengths I will go to to continue climbing, even through pain, and obvious signals to slow down or stop.  This is a first in my life, and I wonder about it. 
And when we're not climbing, we're here on MP   

 Secondly: "Do they recommend broad spectrum antagonistic work?"   This has got to be the heart of it, John.  Not just for shoulders, but for the whole body.  I thought climbing was such a well-rounded activity, but it's not.  It overuses some muscles, and neglects others... so I don't know if cross-training is enough, or if there is a specific fitness routine designed to keep a climber's muscles balanced and body aligned?  I'd grab that in a hot second.  
I'm sure that there's tons of antagonistic routines online.  If not, email me and I'll send you what I use for shoulders, elbows and wrists.  It's a big PDF so I'm not sure how to post it here.
Carl Schneider · · Adelaide, South Australia · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Lori Milas wrote: Ok, I'll bite. Here we go.

Maybe this is a good time to do a check-in?  

Where are you at, at this time, as we begin the journey towards 9000 posts?  Where do you hope to be in 3 months (give or take) when we get there?  Routes? Vacations? Life alterations?

I check in today with a shoulder injury that I've tried to ignore for the last 2 months. I'm pretty depressed about it because as of this morning I cannot even hold my coffee cup without pain.  I don't think this is an 'old' thing... I think it's a 'being stupid' thing.  I just haven't acknowledged the PT work required to stay strong and to be able to use my upper body in this way.  I threw hard on my gym route yesterday, and that was that.  

So, my goal is, by the time we reach #9 ('if' we reach #9)... to be seriously invested in an ongoing PT program, like Esther Smith's.  Hopefully pain-free. And climbing hard.     

How about you? 

I had a similar thing with my shoulders. Had bursitis in both and tendinosis. Of course I've snapped both long head biceps tendons. Get an ultra sound. It sounds silly but not being able to hold a tea cup without pain was a sympton before each tendon snapped... 

I rested for eight weeks, did some theraband stretching and eased back in to climbing.
Also I've been hammering the vitamin C, it's good for tendon renewal.
Do not *just* rest, it could be a significant tendon issue. Get the ultrasound. If you snap a tendon they won't fix it. You'll be fine after, but it looks ridiculous and you will lose some strength...
BTW, *just* resting as I initially did leave the tendons (if indeed you have tendinosis) in the disfunctional state. When you load them again they flare up again. You need to move them out of the disfintional state by using *appropriate* exercise. The exercises with theraband are simple but they work. Do the workouts you've been given. Don't be stubborn like I was you'll regret it.
Lori Milas · · Joshua Tree · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 190
Carl Schneider wrote:

I had a similar thing with my shoulders. Had bursitis in both and tendinosis. Of course I've snapped both long head biceps tendons. Get an ultra sound. It sounds silly but not being able to hold a tea cup without pain was a sympton before each tendon snapped... 

I rested for eight weeks, did some theraband stretching and eased back in to climbing.
Also I've been hammering the vitamin C, it's good for tendon renewal.
Do not *just* rest, it could be a significant tendon issue. Get the ultrasound. If you snap a tendon they won't fix it. You'll be fine after, but it looks ridiculous and you will lose some strength...
BTW, *just* resting as I initially did leave the tendons (if indeed you have tendinosis) on the disfunctional state. When you load them again they flare up again. You need to move them out of the disfintional state by using *appropriate* exercise. The exercises with theraband are simple but they work. Do the workouts you've been given. Don't be stubborn like I was you'll regret it. 

Carl.  I don't recall you ever stopping anything for more than a day or two... despite your promises.  Has there ever been a time when you didn't bang up something new?  Also... I miss your beer drinking.  Are you the new, reformed and improved Carl?  Is that even possible in Australia??? 

Carl Schneider · · Adelaide, South Australia · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Lori Milas wrote:

Carl.  I don't recall you ever stopping anything for more than a day or two... despite your promises.  Has there ever been a time when you didn't bang up something new?  Also... I miss your beer drinking.  Are you the new, reformed and improved Carl?  Is that even possible in Australia??? 

I've cut back quite a bit on my beer, need to get down to my fighting weight. 65.3 kilos this morning, 1.3 to lose. I did really stop climbing for 8 weeks

Layne Zuelke · · Baton Rouge, LA · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 30

So I just hit 50 last month. I also started 2019 with two bad rotator cuffs. My 13 year old took up climbing so I got back in the gym to climb with him after a 20 year hiatus. Of course I wanted to climb like I was 20 years old so I hit it hard and messed up both shoulders. Found a good doc who happened to be a climber. Long story short I’m back to about 95% in each shoulder and climbing at the level I did at 20 years old again. But I learned more than I ever wanted to know about shoulder anatomy and worked my ass off to get strong. I’ve had 2 rounds of shots on one side and 1 in the other. Pain was so bad I couldn’t use the right arm at all at one point.The key is to first drop the inflammation, then build up strength. External rotation is KEY. Focus on that if you have impingement. Learn what moves exacerbate impingement issues and work around them. Of course laying off climbing till you are mostly pain free is a given. 
I got better and took the boy out for his first multi pitch to NC where he climbed The Daddy with me and handled the exposure like a champ.
I lost my brother/climbing partner  at 25 and it’s nice to be back with a new partner in my son. Gave me a new lease in life and I’m stronger at 50 than I was at 40 and 20lbs lighter all because I’m climbing again. 
My original goal for the year was to get strong enough to climb 5.10 comfortably again.  I pulled that off within 2 months of rehab. Now I’m back up to 11c so  my new goal is 12a by years end.

Carl Schneider · · Adelaide, South Australia · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Layne Zuelke wrote: So I just hit 50 last month. I also started 2019 with two bad rotator cuffs. My 13 year old took up climbing so I got back in the gym to climb with him after a 20 year hiatus. Of course I wanted to climb like I was 20 years old so I hit it hard and messed up both shoulders. Found a good doc who happened to be a climber. Long story short I’m back to about 95% in each shoulder and climbing at the level I did at 20 years old again. But I learned more than I ever wanted to know about shoulder anatomy and worked my ass off to get strong. I’ve had 2 rounds of shots on one side and 1 in the other. Pain was so bad I couldn’t use the right arm at all at one point.The key is to first drop the inflammation, then build up strength. External rotation is KEY. Focus on that if you have impingement. Learn what moves exacerbate impingement issues and work around them. Of course laying off climbing till you are mostly pain free is a given.
I got better and took the boy out for his first multi pitch to NC where he climbed The Daddy with me and handled the exposure like a champ.
I lost my brother/climbing partner  at 25 and it’s nice to be back with a new partner in my son. Gave me a new lease in life and I’m stronger at 50 than I was at 40 and 20lbs lighter all because I’m climbing again.
My original goal for the year was to get strong enough to climb 5.10 comfortably again.  I pulled that off within 2 months of rehab. Now I’m back up to 11c so  my new goal is 12a by years end.

It's so great to hear you're feeling so good at 50!  I started climbing at 50 and have always been fit and strong but after starting climbing 7 years ago I am a lot leaner and loving climbing. 

In regards to your comment about inflammation, it's important to note inflammation is not always present.  I had tendinosis which is a newer term to describe tendon degradation where inflammation is not present.  I think tendonitis describes an inflamed tendon.  This is why an ultrasound or MRI is important.  One can end up taking anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen for no reason :-)  

Todd Berlier · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Feb 2018 · Points: 0
Layne Zuelke wrote: So I just hit 50 last month. I also started 2019 with two bad rotator cuffs. My 13 year old took up climbing so I got back in the gym to climb with him after a 20 year hiatus. Of course I wanted to climb like I was 20 years old so I hit it hard and messed up both shoulders. Found a good doc who happened to be a climber. Long story short I’m back to about 95% in each shoulder and climbing at the level I did at 20 years old again. But I learned more than I ever wanted to know about shoulder anatomy and worked my ass off to get strong. I’ve had 2 rounds of shots on one side and 1 in the other. Pain was so bad I couldn’t use the right arm at all at one point.The key is to first drop the inflammation, then build up strength. External rotation is KEY. Focus on that if you have impingement. Learn what moves exacerbate impingement issues and work around them. Of course laying off climbing till you are mostly pain free is a given.
I got better and took the boy out for his first multi pitch to NC where he climbed The Daddy with me and handled the exposure like a champ.
I lost my brother/climbing partner  at 25 and it’s nice to be back with a new partner in my son. Gave me a new lease in life and I’m stronger at 50 than I was at 40 and 20lbs lighter all because I’m climbing again.
My original goal for the year was to get strong enough to climb 5.10 comfortably again.  I pulled that off within 2 months of rehab. Now I’m back up to 11c so  my new goal is 12a by years end.

That's so f@#$ing cool! Not the bits about effing up the shoulders, but getting back into climbing and going with your son! It was my cousin and daughter that got me back into it. Mild injuries getting back to my 30 year old self--didnt quite make it there by V grade, but way more volume just below my old max. 51 years old with 12 year 15 year break. Hell, I just had my first colonoscopy today! 

Brian Wirtz · · Sierra Foothills · Joined Apr 2019 · Points: 5

Ok, I'll chime in.  I'm 53, and started climbing again this January after a 25-year layoff.  My wife and I took our 11-year old to the local climbing gym for his birthday party, and it was over after that.  Climbing is the only thing he talks about now.  Local gym 2x a week, on real rock on weekends.  He climbed a 5.11a in a gym recently, and is becoming competent on rock - he led a 5.8 recently (no trad for him for a while though).  The 2 of us are having more fun than I could have imagined.  
I've started a bit slowly, than him - managed to herniate a disc in my lower back in Feb, and once I was back out on the rock again, had a tendon in my left ring finger go "pop" while leading.  It's going to be screwed up for a while, I'm afraid.  I've led 5.9 sport thus far and am working into things slowly.  While I'm finding that my 50-year old self is not as physically  resilient as my 20-something self, the mental aspects are more solid now- I'm safer and less prone to being sketched.  Has anyone else found this to be the case?

Carl Schneider · · Adelaide, South Australia · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Brian Wirtz wrote:...While I'm finding that my 50-year old self is not as physically  resilient as my 20-something self, the mental aspects are more solid now- I'm safer and less prone to being sketched.  Has anyone else found this to be the case?...

No. I have no mental strength. I cry, worry and wail unless I'm safely on a top rope. I climb sports and trad like I'm free soloing and I don't know what I'm doing. 

I'm exaggerating a bit but no, I'm a terribly worrysome clamberer, which is why I employ a full repertoire of powersounds to help me through.

At the same time I command my body to measure up to the standards I set it 30 years ago.

I ignore my body (rather than listening to it) because it whines that it's all fucked up, lacks a number of tendons, is often full of lactic acid, wants to 'have a nice sit by the seaside reading a book thank you' and would love a drink and a smoke and tells me to stop stressing its shoulders, arms, knees and fingers and asks 'what am I going to do about those fungussy toe nails?'

Stupid body... 
Warriors · · Rock City, GA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 310

49 and 1/4 now.

Shoulder protocol: ortho.ufl.edu/sites/ortho.u… has helped me maintain a modicum of deltoid stability.

Fungussy toenails:

I couldn't even wear a shoe comfortably at the start of year if it was near the right size. Finally took some gnarly oral fungicide for monthsg. Stopped it in june as family tragedy struck and I started drinking rather heavily. Terbinafine, lamisil, etc put really heavy loads on the liver fwiw. The dermatologist said that some people cycle fungicides after the initial "kill off stage" (*a couple of months)...like 1 week out of 4. Her estimate was a year for the nails to really be healed. It is painful as the new nail grows back into the proper bed in my experience.

For a gentler solution, Nonyx has also been useful. But patience is a virtue and I am only about 1/2 way there on the left toes.

Mark Orsag · · Omaha, NE · Joined May 2013 · Points: 845

Have led 11b outdoors. My goal is to get more solid at that level and get an 11c. Have one in mind.

dragons · · MWV, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 782
Brian Wirtz wrote: Ok, I'll chime in.  I'm 53, and started climbing again this January after a 25-year layoff.  My wife and I took our 11-year old to the local climbing gym for his birthday party, and it was over after that.  Climbing is the only thing he talks about now.  Local gym 2x a week, on real rock on weekends.  He climbed a 5.11a in a gym recently, and is becoming competent on rock - he led a 5.8 recently (no trad for him for a while though).  The 2 of us are having more fun than I could have imagined.  
I've started a bit slowly, than him - managed to herniate a disc in my lower back in Feb, and once I was back out on the rock again, had a tendon in my left ring finger go "pop" while leading.  It's going to be screwed up for a while, I'm afraid.  I've led 5.9 sport thus far and am working into things slowly.  While I'm finding that my 50-year old self is not as physically  resilient as my 20-something self, the mental aspects are more solid now- I'm safer and less prone to being sketched.  Has anyone else found this to be the case?

Nice hearing from more folks!

Hey Brian, what, if anything, did you do for the herniated disc? Does it still bother you?

So far, my fingers haven't been a problem (knuckles have been a problem, though). I think it's because I don't climb too hard (basically no overhangs or crimpy routes). 
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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