For most of the athletes who come see me at my clinic there are several underlying causes that contributed to their injuries. Even for those who had more traumatic injuries the severity could have been reduced had these underlying factors been addressed.
The Problem: bad technique!
“The quality of your technique determines how much climbing you can manage without accumulating a critical level of tissue damage.” -Dave MacLeod, Make or Break
Every time we climb or train we expose our tissues to microtrauma accumulation. The better our technique is the more we can spread that stress on the body.
For example, if your footwork sucks and your feet slip off frequently that can put sudden load on your shoulder joint or fingers. This causes microscopic damage (microtrauma) to the collagen tissue in the fingers or shoulder joint. When this happens frequently the trauma accumulates over weeks, months and years and injury can occur later on down the line.
The Fix: Improve you technique!
Work with an experienced coach! This is the fast track to improving your technique. It helps to have a second set of eyes on your quality of movement during climbing. A good coach will see things in your movement that you won’t and they have more experience watching people climb and catching small flaws in technique. A good coach is a worthwhile investment for anyone who is serious about climbing. I know I could not have gotten where I have in the sport without my coaches.
- Work on footwork
- Climb open handed as much as possible
- Invest in a quality pair of climbing shoes
- Switch to routes periodically if you only boulder, mix it up.
Another issue I see in my clinic is improper dosage. A lot of times it’s in combination with improper technique as explained above, but it can be an issue in and of itself. I know you are excited about climbing but you don’t get to climb hard everyday without eventually suffering the consequences.
The Problem: Improper dosage!
“Training follows exactly the same principle as getting a tan–a stress is imposed on the body and it adapts to the stress, but only if the stress is designed properly. You wouldn’t lay out for 2 minutes and assume that it would make you brown, because 2 minutes isn’t enough stress to cause an adaptation. Likewise, only a stupid kid lays out for an hour on each side the first day, because the stress is so overwhelmingly damaging that it cannot be recovered from in a constructive way.” -Mark Rippetoe, Starting Strength 3rd edition
The vast majority of athletes that I see in my clinic are overtraining, even if they aren’t “training” and they are “just climbing” we can still use that term. Overtraining is the cumulative result of excessive high-volume or high-intensity training, or both, without adequate recovery, that results in the exhaustion of the body’s ability to recover from training stress and adapt to it. Once overtraining is diagnosed, it is imperative to take remedial action. Longer periods of overtraining require longer periods of recovery.
- Less is more when it comes to training. You should not be climbing to fatigue during training ever. An exhausting workout does not equal a good training session.
- Work with a coach who understands programming (most do not!)
- Program in rest days and actually rest! Running, yoga, accessory work do not count as “rest” sorry!
- Read Practical Programming by Mark Rippetoe & Andy Baker for a better understanding of what makes a good training program. Proper programming could be an article series in and of itself so I will defer to this excellent resource.
Rest and recovery are probably the least planned and underutilized ways to enhance performance which brings me to my next point!
The Problem: under utilization of recovery techniques.
In 16 years of climbing and dealing with my own injuries, 4+ years of working with athletes’ broken bodies and 3 years of barbell training I have learned one thing:
YOU DO NOT GET STRONGER FROM YOUR TRAINING, YOU GET STRONGER FROM RECOVERING FROM YOUR TRAINING.
This is a hard fact for many athletes to face. We all want to push our bodies to the limit and we think that more is better. This really isn’t the case. I currently spend 5 days a week fixing athletes who train this way and spend a lot of time begging them to take some rest days.
If you don’t rest and recover your body won’t adapt to the stress of your training—you won’t get stronger. Neglect it for too long, and you will start to lose strength. You’ll sink into the black hole known as overtraining. First, your sleep patterns and energy levels will feel the effects. Eventually, your immune system crashes, and you lose your appetite. It’s like burning out your engine.
The Fix: I have a post all about this. Click the link below for more!
Spending some additional time focusing on rest and recovery can pay dividends beyond additional training time. Think about it…it’s essentially legal performance enhancement!!! Most people miss out on this because they don’t want to dedicate time to the little things that matter most. Don’t ignore your body until it becomes too late and you’re forced to take unnecessary time off due to injury, burnout, or worse.
Thanks for reading!
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I’m excited to work with you guys at Motus Clinic! You can book your next appointment online HERE or email me at Natasha@MotusClinic.com with questions.