Round 28

What kind of training can I do on rest days from climbing?|

Q: I get really bored on rest days and would like an activity that compliments my rock climbing but won’t be counted as “overtraining.” What can I do on these rest days from climbing? — Robbie (Edinburgh, Scotland)

A: Hello Robbie, This is a common question among young, enthusiastic climbers. What I suggest is to spend two rest days per week doing antagonist training and some running. For the antagonists, do a few sets of push-ups, dips, and shoulder presses. Select a moderate weight that allows you 20 reps. These exercises will strengthen your shoulders, add stability and reduce injury risk as you push into the higher grades! Running a couple days is also good if you don’t go overboard. I suggest running a few miles with a few fast intervals mixed in. 20 minutes of running two or three days per week is enough.

What’s your advice for sore elbow and finger?

Q:My right middle finger and right elbow have been sore off-and-on for about a year now. Last summer, I took 5 weeks off for healing and gradually returned to climbing. I took another 6 weeks off this last winter and was careful to not boulder or climb too hard. I have been feeling good this summer until recently, on a climbing trip, I toproped a 13a, when already feeling fatigued and without tape, and could feel sharp pain in my right elbow. Now my finger, hand and elbow are sore again, even when not climbing. What do you suggest? — Calli (Spearfish, SD)

A: Hi Calli, Sounds like you are climbing hard–but hard is also stressful, as you are finding out. I’m pleased that you have a good self-awareness of what’s happening, instead of mindlessly climbing on despite pain as many climbers do. Your injuries are becoming chronic, which worries me. It’s so tough to give advice without knowing more about your situation. However, it would be prudent to immediately take a few weeks off and then test it out and see how it feels. If you still have pain, I’m afraid you should take the summer off. Long-term, you need to get on a conditioning program to help lower your risk of these injuries. The elbows, especially, are somewhat preventable with exercises and stretches for the related muscles. Here are a couple links from the Training Center to help show you the way.

How can I avoid falling after the crux?

Q: My problem is that I often fall after passing the most difficult part. I have no feeling in my arms/fingers after the crux. How to avoid this? – Jasna (Croatia)

A: Hello Jasna, If you are regularly making it through the crux, then that’s a good thing! Surviving the final part of the route may simply be a matter of developing more muscular (anaerobic) endurance. Please check out the two articles in the Training Center on this subject. Also, consider that “gathering yourself” mentally on the last leg of a route is also important–relaxing, remaining focused on the moves, and staying in the present (not thinking about the top). Please reach this month’s article on Becoming a Master of Your Domain. Good luck!

What’s your advice for overcoming a dislocated shoulder?

A: I am a 30-year-old who recently dislocated my left shoulder. I’ve talked with an orthopedist and he recommended physical therapy and to hold off on surgery and see how it goes. I’ve been doing rehab with a therapist, and I’d appreciate your input on what else I can do to get healthy and back into climbing. — Jeremy (Morgantown, WV)

Q: I’m not a doctor, but I know many climbers who have rehabbed their shoulder injuries and made a great comeback without cutting. The key is to do the full rehab program, then progress into a regular shoulder-training program. Your goal is to build some pecs and anterior deltoids, since this will further stabilize your shoulders above and beyond the rehab program. Wait, however, until your therapist gives you the go-ahead begin training. At that point, I suggest training three times a week with moderate-weight bench press, shoulder press, and dips. Do two sets of 20 reps each. Over the course of 3 to 6 months this should sure up your shoulder joint and get you back climbing hard. But go easy and have a long-term perspective. Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

What do you think about climbing with ankle weights?

Q: What’s your opinion on wearing ankle weights while climbing, maybe to work on footwork or body tension? — Travis (Canada)

A: Hello Travis, In theory the ankle weight would require more foot focus and body tension. My concern is that adding weight so far from your center of gravity will make climbing feel “weird” and mess with your motor skills and technique. In adding weight for HIT workouts, I’ve found that weight belts are ideal for this same reason. Adding the weight around your waist (near center of gravity) does not affect movement, other than to simulate more gravitational pull. So, I suggest you stick with occasionally training with a weight belt on.