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Tendon strength and climbing hard
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andrewbanandrew


Jun 19, 2005, 4:41 AM
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Tendon strength and climbing hard
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I started climbing last October, for reference.

Four weeks ago, I strained a flexor tendon on a gym boulder problem--three small lapses in judgement led up to it, I suppose ("Oh I don't need to stretch" "Ah I've only got half an hour, no time to warmup" "I'll just do something I've done before"). Well in all my wisdom, I picked a problem that had a wonderful little pocket, which is where I strained my tendon.

I took ten days off, and started climbing again (this was my fourth mistake). Limited myself to nothing harder than 5.8. Just yesterday, I reinjured it, traversing on an artificial concrete wall (Marymoor Park for those in the area). Reinjured it, on my warmup. I feel like a winner.

This got me thinking--is it really possible to climb at a certain level early on (e.g in your first year of experience), or does that just put you at unnecessary risk of injury? I know that as the grades get higher, the holds don't necessarily get smaller, but in most cases that's why some climbs are harder than others.

Because tendons are not really vascular tissue, how long does it take for them to strengthen to the point where the risk of injury is acceptably low, especially when pulling on stressful holds like pockets?


mrsuicide


Jun 19, 2005, 5:12 AM
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Re: Tendon strength and climbing hard [In reply to]
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i strained a pulley a few months ago, and i would still call it only 90%. I didnt climb on it for a month, and took it easy for a month.


Partner angry


Jun 19, 2005, 5:21 AM
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Re: Tendon strength and climbing hard [In reply to]
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I don't know the answer to your question, so I'm going to talk about myself.

When I first was introduced to climbing, I managed to tweak the finger and wrist tendons almost constantly. Then I'd sprain my wrists and ankles on cracks. I even partially detatched a bicep on Tulgey Wood at Devils Tower.

[spray]Now, several (but less than a decade) years later. I climb far harder and can handle much more abuse. I can pull on the worst crimps and fall, then do it again until I run out of skin. I can climb several days in a row, warm up on mid 11 and climb much harder later. I can then go bouldering after I'm done climbing for the day. The only thing that has gone down is how many pullups I can do. I haven't had a climbing injury other than a bruised finger for a long time.[/spray]

Is it technique? Is it stronger tendons? Is it stronger supporting muscles?

I don't know, but climb for a long time and you'll improve, that I know.


scottd


Jun 20, 2005, 3:40 AM
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I agree wholeheartedly w/ fshizzle. At a certain point your body will plateau and you will have to wait for your tendons to catch up. Remember that it takes 10 times as long to strengthen tendons as muscles. I've seen people climb 5.13 in one year, but that is the exception not the rule. Take your time, have realistic goals, don't be in a rush to climb like a rockstar. Let those tendons strengthen over a long period of time (i.e.years) And for the love of god, stay away from pockets, they are the devil!! (for tendons)


bluenose


Jun 20, 2005, 1:53 PM
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Unrelated to climbing. I got back into serious weight training a couple of months ago after taking a year off. Thought I'd start with the little weights and increase slowly. Well, my muscles bounced back quickly and I pulled some tendons, not too seriously though. It's hard to judge this one and I'm sure it's different for everyone. It comes down to rest, but not imobilization and knowing hard hard to push it. Tendons can take a long time to come back and are easy to overtrain.

I'm glad I started back to the weights when I did as I'm about to head out on some local rock (first real rock this year...first real rock ever, actually) and I'm sure that I'd have injured myself first time out. Now most of my system has been stressed and adapted enough that I'm not going to pull something too easily.

Having said that, climbing is going to put a whole new range of stressors on me, so maybe it doesn't make any difference and I'm still going to pull something. :roll:


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