How Injury Made Me Fitter

At the moment I currently have two ongoing injuries, the first and longest problem I have is my tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis. I have been suffering with this one for almost 5 years and it is very common amongst climbers and was brought on for me by too much finger board training when we had one set up at the shop I used to work at.

Running with a knee brace and poles helps mange the knee injury

Running with a knee brace and poles helps mange the knee injury

The other injury I suffer with is hip and knee issues in my right leg. Whilst out running two years ago I tore my hip flexer muscle which took over a year to heal and then caused an imbalance in my IT band which has lead to issues in my knee joint when running.

The elbow injury is the more annoying of the injuries as climbing is my main passion in life. However, out of the two it is the most manageable with a strict regime of weights and stretches that don't take too long and making sure it is taped up when I climb. This means it does not cause me too many issues. The knee injury is a lot more painful however and takes a lot more time to mange and while braces and taping do help it, they do not elevate the problems altogether.

A rolly bar gives your fore arms great endure training but with no stress on any of the joints.

A rolly bar gives your fore arms great endure training but with no stress on any of the joints.

So reading this you would think that I must be on a downward spiral of fitness as climbing and running have became harder, however at the moment I am actually climbing harder and running further than I ever have. So how did I achieve this?

The first thing is seeing a pysio and getting a proper set of exercises and then sticking to them religiously. Also trying to go beyond what the pysio recommends that I do. The pysio will be trying to get you back to a point wear the injury will not effect you in day to day life and climbing and running are not included in that thoughts process. By going beyond the excecises that the physio recommended I have actually found that my leg muscles and elbow muscles have gotten stronger. Granted they still hurt but I can walk up hill for alot longer than I ever did before.

Next up is trying to find a sport or exercise that trains the same muscles but with a lot less stress. For me I replaced some of my running withroad biking and some climbing sessions with a weighted rolly bar (see photo). Both of these things train the same muscles but with a lot less impacted on the joints. In the case of road bike it may not be as aggressive on the muscles but does give you a much harder cardio work out than running which helps with running. In the terms of the rolly bar it targets the forearms directly so it now takes a lot for me to get pumped on a climbing route.

Yoga really helps with injuries and has the added benfit of giving you a stronger core.

Yoga really helps with injuries and has the added benfit of giving you a stronger core.

Finally and I think this is the thing that has made the biggest difference is Yoga. Now up until 18 months ago I was very sceptical of Yoga, Lucy has been doing it for about four years and was always trying to convince me to do it and I did go to a class with her but found it a bit dull and felt it was just fancy stretching rather than anything that would help with fitness. It wasn't until one evening when I was too sore to go running and my elbow didn't really fancy lifting any weights that I logged on to you tube and found a 30 min video called “yoga for fitness” that I really started to pay attention. That first 30 min I did was really hard. Lots of planks and core work. I decided I would keep doing it and found a few more videos that target different areas of the body. 18 months on and my core strength is stronger than it has ever been, this has meant that my climbing has improved drastically and may not have healed my elbow has helped because I am now capable of holding and balancing my weight better than I ever have done before. When it comes to running I still have to be careful especially down hill and I still have to wear a brace but again because my core strength is so much better my technique has improved which means I am taking pressure off the knee joint and have actually got faster.

Ibelieve that I am always going to have these injuries and despite all the pysio and yoga I am always going to have to mange them but that does not mean you have to stop doing what you love. You just have to be a bit creative and smart in the way that you train for them.