I want to share a cool blog entry written by Mike Anderson. He is a friend and author of the Rock Climber’s Training Manual. He injured his ankle severely part-way through his training cycle. He as able to rehabilitate it, recover and climb one of the hardest routes he has ever climbed.
Mike gives a great shout out to The Climbing Doctor in the blog post. After he injured his ankle he wrote “I immediately called my friend & colleague, Dr. Jared Vagy (aka “The Climbing Doctor”), a doctor of physical therapy, and he gave me a personalized plan to follow for rehab that has worked miraculously!”
Spring, Sprain, Summer, Send?
This has been a crazy spring/summer for most of us in the Intermountain West. It was winter, then it got a little warmer, then BAM! Blizzard after Blizzard struck, and in between blizzards would be ludicrous heat waves. It has not been a spring for sending at most crags. Even now, many crags are running with water from runoff. That being the case, it turned out to be good timing for me when I severely sprained my ankle while training:
Let me back up a bit….
This is a common scenario, and we get a lot of questions like this:
“I was part-way through my training cycle, and I got injured. What do I do now?”
This scenario can also apply to other situations besides injuries such as fitting in a trip midway through a season, or otherwise being pulled away from training for unexpected reasons.
I began my training cycle with my first hangboard workout on March 9th, gunning to be entering peak fitness in mid-May — in time for the best conditions at Rifle, the Monastery and Wolf Point (in Lander, Wyoming). I also had to fit in a spring break trip from March 19th -27th. So this was the plan:
- 4 HB workouts from March 9th – March 18th (with typical 72 hour rest period)
- 1 climbing day on spring break, March 21st (at The Pit, near Flagstaff, AZ)
- 1 HB workout on March 23rd
- 1 climbing day on spring break March 26th
- 4 HB workouts from March 29th – April 9th
I did the first 4 HB workouts, and had a great day climbing at the Pit, even On-Sighting a couple 5.13s, including Total Recall, the crag’s premier sport route:
Then all hell broke loose 🙂 Half-way through spring break, I flew home for a day of work (and to do my 5th HB workout). Then the first of many freak storms hit us. I wasn’t able to fly back to complete spring break, so I did another 5 HB workouts from March 26th – Apr 9th (fitting in an outdoor day at Shelf Road to compensate for the lost day over spring break).
Aside: If it makes sense, I don’t mind fitting in a couple outdoor days amidst hangboard training. Mark and I tend to differ on this, where he is more consistent about only hangboard training during this phase. If I’m going to do it, I try not to go more than 5-6 days without a hangboard workout. On your outdoor days, try to do hard, fingery climbing.
Things were going well at this point, and I entered my power phase with a few sessions of bouldering at the gym. I was feeling really strong, and really enjoying the chance to boulder at the gym, which I usually don’t like because the setting isn’t fingery enough (too may huge/unrealistic dynos, slopers and pinches). I did a campus/limit bouldering workout on April 17th, then on the 19th, everything changed in a blink of an eye!
I was limit bouldering at the gym, came flying off an awkward topout move that put me in a position such that I couldn’t brace for the fall and I landed directly on my right ankle, rolling it to the inside and tearing my Anterior Telo-Fibular tendon (along with other damage, I’m sure). Now what…10 days into my power phase, hoping to peak in the next couple weeks? The prognosis from the doctor (and based on previous experience) was about 6 weeks. I hoped to be back to climbing even sooner than that.
I had limited options. Obviously bouldering would be out for several weeks, if not the entire season, so hangboarding made sense. I wouldn’t be able to get into “send mode” when I wanted, so I re-adjusted my expectations for my peak, and the crags I would climb at. I went back to the hangboard in the hopes of extending my season long enough for my ankle to recover for sport climbing. Sport climbing would be far less risky than bouldering on a bum ankle. We also had a 3 week trip to Europe in the works, starting on June 21st, so I would set my goals towards that trip, rather than the spring climbing at the aforementioned crags.
I also immediately called my friend & colleague, Dr. Jared Vagy (aka “The Climbing Doctor”), a doctor of physical therapy, and he gave me a personalized plan to follow for rehab that has worked miraculously!