For the last two months I've been trying to overcome this nagging neck/shoulder injury using a two-fold approach: climbing less (and less hard), and training in the gym more (as in the YMCA, not the bouldering cave). The training has really been helping me out; my back and shoulders have really opened up and feel more flexible than they have in years. There really is no substitute for working out and keeping your muscles balanced with an intelligent routine.
In fact, I had a realization tonight while working out that I wish I had come to years ago. If you rely on climbing as your only training for climbing and your sole source of muscle building, it is akin to going to the YMCA a few times per week and only doing ONE exercise the whole time you are there. No one in their right minds would do this! It would be painfully obvious that this was going to lead to a massive imbalance and problems. Yet, us climbers never think about climbing this way. And unfortunately, I've had to learn the hard way that it pays off to do the maintenance.
With the help of the book Climbing: Training for Peak Performance, I've been able to put together a really good workout plan along with a few things from my PT. I can't recommend the book enough; it covers everything from nutrition and stretching to specific workouts and schedules for peaking during the height of the climbing season. You can get it online for like $10 from Amazon and it's well worth it. The author, Clyde Soles, talks in really plain language about stuff that works and he smacks around all of the gimmicky trends in nutrition and fitness out there. It's clear the guy really knows this stuff.
The best part of working out? I'm actually enjoying it. I'm able to get the intense physical workout that I can't get from climbing anymore. And it feels really good to see improvement in mobility and strength in my shoulder where I've been injured. I'm a firm believer in blessings in disguise, and maybe this injury had to happen to get me to finally start being more aware of finding a healthy balance.
Oh, and a last note. Of all the research on injuries I do, the #1 top advice is to really, really warm up before any climbing. Something we can probably all do more of. The day I got this injury i warmed up on a 5.11+. Hmmmm....
The biggest mistake I've made over the last 15 years is not stretching, and I'm paying for that now in injuries.
Check here for some more quotes about being a busted climber. And then get thee to a gym.
For anyone who hasn't heard the news, the fine folks at the CCC who were responsible for the purchase of Laurel Knob a few years back just made a major acquisition of important boulders at Rumbling Bald. The purchased land had been privately held by a developer for years and includes super classic boulders like the Washing Machine and great problems like the French Maid. Now, it's up to us to help keep this great resource available. Check out this video for more info, or check out the website here.
I'm officially done with buying Nalgene bottles (and other fancy, expensive water containers). in the last 6 months I've bought 3 new bottles and I now have 1 left. The last one I had for less than 2 weeks. It got left somewhere at Rumbling Bald, lost somewhere on the East side amidst all the shuffle of packing up the crash pad (it's blue and the narrow mouth type if you've seen it...). I've long figured Nalgene bottles are like pens: you lose 'em, but hey, they come back around again when you find some other poor sucker's bottle at the base of the crag. Problem is, i just lose them.
While I'm glad it wasn't a shoe I lost, and while I'm aware this problem is really my fault for being spacey, I can't get over feeling lame for plunking down $10 for a water bottle again and again. I mean, they give bottles away for FREE when you buy Gatorade or any other beverage. Sure, they aren't as solid as a Nalgene or one of them fancy aluminum bottles (don't drop those on a rock, BTW, they get more dented than your grandaddy's Buick), but, heck, I'll lose the durn thing before it can break. So next time you're out climbing and see some dude with a steady drip coming out of his pad from a leaky Gatorade bottle, that's me--proud to no longer be sporting fancy bottles for a pack of boy scouts to find lying on the ground on their next outing.
I feel a little better now, thanks...
I've been meaning to get these pics up for awhile. Melissa and I went to the Obed for 3 days right after Christmas. This is really the last major SE climbing destination I haven't been to in 15 years of climbing here, so it was cool to finally make it. And when I say cool, it was actually pretty cold. The highs never got out of the low 40s, which I guess is chilly for this area. But given the cold and my lingering shoulder injury, we still had a good time. We got there late on our first day so we decided to check out the Lilly boulders. Cool place! A nice local showed us around and we spent most of the afternoon trying to stay warm on a prety great warm up boulder:
The next two days we went to the South Clear Creek and tried to keep the sun on us all the time. In total we only did about 6 routes over the 2 last days; we were moving pretty slow because of the cold and the drive back and forth from Maryville TN where we were staying, but it was still a good introduction to the area. Looking forward to going back sometime soon. The climbing image below is on the great 5.9 Best Seat in the House." Really fun arete and just less-than-vertical face climbing. I was able to onsight a 5.11 just around the corner, and that felt like an accomplishment given my abilities lately.
I just found this picture on my phone and had to share it. I snapped it over Thanksgiving last year while visiting my dad, who lives near Richmond, VA. There's an island park in the middle of the James River that has some low, quarried walls that are mildly suitable for cragging. And where the wall doesn't have holds? Just drill on your own! And why not? It's so Euro. I'm not passing judgment cuz I used to boulder under a bridge in Chapel Hill that had broken cinder blocks epoxied to the wall for holds--you get your fixes how you can. But just thought ya'll might get get a kick outta this! (And appreciate how good we have it here in WNC.)
It was my first day climbing in the New Year, and it was great to see the usual crew all together. Because it was a cold day (though not as cold as was forecasted), we stayed over on the West side of the field to keep in the sun. The highlight of the day was when Ben Newton, seen in the images below, got the first ascent of the Bobby Brown Arete (V8). It just goes to show that this field is far from tapped out--this new line is just to the left of the classic Liza Minnelli Corner (V4). Lots of people had been trying this line this winter, and as far as we know, Ben was the first to send. The best thing about the bulge? it made people have some wack looking expressions while they climbed it. Check it out in the pics below. I'll post a few more from later that day soon.
For anyone who's been following this blog, you know I've been dealing with a jacked up left shoulder and neck for the last six months. That's part of the reason why this blog has been way less active--I've simply been climbing a lot less, sadly, in the hopes of improving. While it's gotten better, the problem continues to linger at about 80% of my normal capacity, without signs of getting better. Hitching me up to the "Traction" machine seen here is my PTs latest attempt at a solution. It's supposed to stretch out the muscles in my neck. I kept waiting for the metal inserts that would keep my eyes open while forcing me to look at porn, a la clockwork orange. Sadly, no porn...just 15 minutes of neck elongation with more to come next week.