May 282010

Maybe it’s useful anecdotal reference:
I started rock climbing in the gym, and loved it. The first day I climbed until I couldn’t hold on to the wall any more. I started with top-roping, but also bouldered immediately. I was able to do a V0, but a V1 just evaded me. A couple of days later I had my membership, bought the equipment (I didn’t even wait to consult with my friends on what to buy). I climbed so much that I almost couldn’t sign “in” on my way out.

I’d say about 3 months later I was climbing 5.10s with relative ease. I was advancing very fast according to what I heard from others. I hardly got sore any more, but the joints in my fingers were feeling funny, and hurting a bit if I squeezed them from the side. I had heard that muscles adapt very quickly, but the cartilage takes much longer to grow stronger. I never was in pain, but I was always aware of my joints when I came down from a route.

So I decided to take a step back. I took a week break, but that didn’t change much. So I stopped climbing 5.10s and started to go back to 8s and 9s. I would climb very carefully to improve my technique, or simply climb two in a row. I don’t remember exactly how long I stuck to the schedule, but it was something between 2-4 weeks. It never improved much, but also never got worse, so I decided to go back to climbing harder routes. Then a month later I went on vacation, and took a 3 week break. Again it didn’t seem to relieve the tension I felt in my joints, but I didn’t care that much any more. I would monitor it, but I felt I had been giving it enough time.

In retrospect I don’t remember when exactly it went away. I certainly don’t feel it today any more. I still feel like there was a good chance of me getting injured if I had kept on climbing without the breaks or taking it slower but I have no way of knowing for sure.


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