Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Backing Off

I've been thinking a lot about the various routes that have led to injury whilst I've been training and bouldering indoors.

I have obviously hurt myself when I've not warmed up properly, when I've overdone it during re-hab from previous injury, when I've had way too many shots at the same move and when I've been too tired or ill.

However, these days I always injure myself when I'm having a great session. I don't just mean an ordinary great session, I mean the kind of session where it feels like you could rip the holds off the wall by merely twitching your back muscles. I'm slowly learning to recognise this feeling as early on in a session as possible and then I can shorten the length of the session so that I stop training or climbing right at the point when I am feeling at my strongest.

This is easier said than done. It means potentially sacrificing my only opportunity to tick a lot of my indoor projects, but should mean that I can come back and have a great uninjured session next time. Quite a few folk who write on training for climbing and other sports talk about finishing your session when you feel strong, but they are usually referring to not training to exhaustion.

You just have to be aware that if you are having one of these extraordinary sessions, it generally means that you are managing to load parts of your body in ways that they are not accustomed to yet. It's purely a case of learning when you need to back off. Most of my climbing friends (myself included) do not always recognise this and tend to injure fingers when finally getting back to full strength after a layoff.

When training for most things, you train cyclicly rather than linearly and should always have a phase of high mileage in order for your body to get accustomed to this new level of exertion. The same obviously applies to fingers, they do not get stronger in a linear fashion for very long, so when they feel at their very best, the best they have for years maybe, don't injure them by asking too much too soon. You should expect that you now have to put in a good amount of mileage (ie several weeks worth) in order to allow your fingers to get used to this before you start snatching for progressively worse and worse holds.

The reason I'm writing about this now, is that I'm finally back from injury and almost at the level I was at a year and a half ago and I'm desperate not to repeat this cycle of injury-rehab-injury.

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