29 December 2009
Loads of you have been asking for more info on the rehab work I’ve been doing on my elbows of late. I’ve been really impressed and heartened by how effective it’s been. The first thing to say is that rehab only works inside the bigger picture of treating an injury, i.e. correcting the cause and taking other steps to lower the overall stress on the affected area. The other steps are changing many different things in your lifestyle and routine outside of the climbing, but also some of the tactics within the sport routine.
To handle all of this is much more than a blogpost obviously. Hence I’m back to working on what was meant to be my first book - about the whole picture of preventing and treating climbing injuries. In this post I’m sticking to just the headlines of the rehab work:
First off I’ve been doing hot/cold water immersion to increase blood flow. In the past I’ve used just cold on my hands which seem to handle this better and evoke the Lewis reaction faster. The elbows seem to respond slightly better to hot and cold alternately. I’m presuming for now this is because they are not body extremities by comparison and not geared up for profound and rapid vasodilation but have yet to investigate this. This is just my experience though, I’ve not yet trawled through more sources of evidence, and there seem to be individual differences at work too. So try both and follow what has the best effect. I’ve been doing it daily, twice a day when I have time, and for as long as I can manage. Really the more you do, the more the effect. But 30 minutes of 5 minutes alternating hot and cold water seems to have an excellent effect.
Next, the tendon strengthening work. I’ve been doing eccentric wrist curls which stimulate the tendon more strongly than the muscle tissue to grow. I started off using quite a heavy dumbell arrangement, but have since found it easier and more practical to simply use force from my other hand!
I’ve also been massaging the tendon and flexing it under no resistance. Finally, I stretch it probably 30 times or more during a rock climbing session (i.e practically between every route/circuit/problem).
I’m finding that the combined attack on the injury seems to be creating a strong enough reminder to kick it’s lazy ass into making a bit of progress. It’s still reluctant as hell though, and a week off due to illness has been enough for the elbow to let me know it’s missing the TLC during training!