/ How to get back into training?

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TAI on 15 Jul 2014
Hey! I have been off climbing for a few months. Basically I climbed for about half a year, peaking at v5/6. At around this point I started to get bad pains in my elbow, which got very bad. Over the next year or so I went through periods of taking weeks/month off before going climbing or training again.
This was pretty demotivational, but after a while I was climbing a few times a week for around two months. Then I had problems with my fingers, I had sharp pains in the last and middle joints of most of my fingers.
This was potentially more serious than the elbow injuries (growth plates and all) so I haven't been climbing since (around 3 months)

So since then I maintained general fitness/health by running and going to the gym. so my fitness is alright, and I only had minor twinges in my elbows when training.

So I wanted to know if anyone has any tips/advice for getting back into climbing/training? Like things to avoid, important exercises/things to do etc.
RossKirtley - on 15 Jul 2014
In reply to Rhapsody:

Just crack on man! Take it easy at first, see how your body copes and adjust your training accordingly.

Things to avoid: monos, campus boards, pulling mega hard on small edges, getting frustrated.

You'll be much better off spending some time to get a good technique dialled before you start hammering you're obviously dodgy fingers.

Just go climbing. Enjoy climbing with a few mates and when you're back in a good climbing frame of mind and you're body has realised that you want it to do some graft, then think about structuring your training.
turtlespit - on 16 Jul 2014
In reply to Rhapsody:

Maybe look into some supplementary elbow exercises. There's this article by a climber/osteopath as a starting point -

Just bouldering is generally quite intense - maybe alternate between boulders and ropes?
TAI on 17 Jul 2014
In reply to Rhapsody:

Thanks, will do! I intend to do some strengthening exercises for fingers and forearms/elbows before I go back, hopefully to stave off injury.
Shani - on 17 Jul 2014
In reply to Rhapsody:

You don't get stronger from climbing. You get stronger from resting.

Given the prolific injuries you have experienced I'd read up on training cycles and implement what you learn. You must rest and have deloaded sessions. You must get your sleep and eat well.

Prehab and rehab exercises are also advisable.

As you've only been climbing for a short period of time just simple sessions down the wall will be productive. Leave the specialised training tools alone as your ligaments and tendons will be ill prepared.
Siderunner - on 19 Jul 2014
Warm up and warm down slowly; 30 mins and 10 mins would be a rough guide to how long. It's a very common mistake to start too hard.

Try and focus on improvements in volume rather than peak grade to start with perhaps. E.g. try and build up to doing every v3 (or v2/v4/...) at the wall (or crag) before working on the next grade up; when you can do around 20 problems of all types (slab/vert/oh, blobs/crimps/slopers) in one session then start working towards the same at the next grade up. This is good for both technique and fitness / adjusting to a volume of training.

If you've really only climbed for half a year then it's likely there are a lot of gaps in your technique that will manifest at lower grades. By doing all problems in the gym at a given grade it stops you steering towards your strengths, and in fact the ones you fail on are probably your weaknesses and where you should be spending the time.

Don't have more than a few goes at any one problem in a session. Although not ideal if you want to work hard stuff, this will help prevent overuse injury.

Lastly, look at your preferred grip type. If you prefer to crimp over open-handing, then work on the latter as an urgent priority. Dave MacLeod has written a good article about this (or perhaps it's in his 9 out of 10 climbers book). It's very common among people new to climbing to crimp exclusively, and its not a good idea for fingers and elbows.
TAI on 20 Jul 2014
In reply to Rhapsody:

Thanks again, I do need to warm up properly, usually I would just traverse a bit before bouldering or leading. Climbing a decent number of problems at a certain grade on a variety of wall should help as well, as I would normally stick to only a few walls, since the center I climb at is tiny.

stp - on 20 Jul 2014
In reply to Rhapsody:

A lot injuries can stem from muscle imbalances. Climbers tend to train the pulling muscles and not their antagonistic pushing counterparts. So do some weight training for the other muscles: push-ups, overhead press, shrugs etc.

See a good physio (or two) about you're injuries. Without the right diagnosis you won't know best what to do. Elbow problems very often stem from nerve problems rather than tendon.

Open handing instead of crimping sounds like a good idea.

Don't overtrain. You shouldn't finish a session feeling completely wasted. If you finish feeling more invigorated and energised you're' not only avoid injuries but recover faster too. Plenty of rest days. You should feel stronger each time you train - that is the whole point after all. Consider having light days if you don't feel fully recovered on some occasions.

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