12 November 2010
About a month ago, on the crux sidepull of Muy Caliente E10 6c, I tore a ligament in my DIP joint of my left index finger. I spent the rest of my week long trip there climbing openhanded on it, or at least not using my thumb on half-crimps. Thankfully none of the other routes I did needed any crimping.
After I got home, I spent the next three weeks climbing solely openhanded on my board, bouldering outside or sticking to slabs on trad, even if pretty hard slabs. The tear was immediately painful on crimping, slightly painful on half-crimps but totally fine openhanded. This was all going fine, although the intensity of training on my board was probably still a bit much for it. What is always needed in this situation is a change of scenery.
A couple of weeks hard climbing in the steep walls and roofs of Margalef was exactly the therapy I needed. The point here is that the injured part must be relatively unloaded for a good several weeks to give it a chance to progress and form a strong scar. But doing nothing tends to cause that healing progress to falter. Choosing climbing that will keep everything moving, responding and basically stimulated means healing progresses faster. So the goal is to look for a type of climbing that is kind on the injury but lets you climb hard and keep your fitness. In the case of this particular injury that simply meant climbs that don’t need crimps, or at least that only need them rarely and you can get around it. A lot of the time it’s exactly the same with pulley tears.
In two weeks of pocket pulling on routes F8b and up I didn’t aggravate the injury once but gained fitness and gave the finger a good stimulus to heal. It totally worked, and now at the end of the trip it’s feeling painless testing it on hard crimping.
Of course that doesn’t mean it’s gone. I’m sure if I spent a week crimping my way up some British limestone face climbs, it would soon go backwards again. It just means it’s made great progress, and with a few more weeks of the same and no mistakes, it should be getting more and more resistant to full normal climbing.