I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
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Saturday, 7 July 2012

More on Shoulder Impingement in climbers, by Stevie Haston

Looks like we have a lot of climbers out there with problems. First I am a climber not a Doctor, perhaps you should see a very, very good Doctor. Personally the idea that anybody knows more about my body than I do is absurd, but hey you might have one of those standard models that Doctors treat and study.

My left Shoulder needs an operation but I really don’t have the time, and I am scared a surgeon will do a less than perfect job, surgeons, even really good ones, are just humans, and not perfect.

To fully understand the Shoulder joint in climbing, try and put it in a climbing situation, and you will be forced to realize the limitations of this joint.

Stand up and try to raise your arms to touch at full extension above your head, like in the photo.

If you do this with your thumbs pointed down instead of up, your range of movement will be severely limited! This is what we do occasionally in climbing and it starts inflammation in a tendon, once the inflammation starts its very hard to get rid of because the tendon runs thru a narrow space, so rubs nearly all the time in climbing.

If you want to continue climbing you must try not to irritate this area. If you want to continue training you must try not to irritate this area. Easier said than done, obviously!

Here are a couple of things, see a very good Doctor, see a very good Physio.

Here are a few other things in no particular order. When throwing for  for a hold, be careful about which way  your thumb is pointing, as it has something to do with how your arm is orientated in the shoulder, and thus how much impingement you will suffer. When training be very careful of what you do. Some things will hurt you and not others, because you are different. Some moves, and therefore routes will hurt you. Some Gym apparatus will hurt you, certain bars and movements with these bars will hurt you. Choose other routes, and other bars. Nearly all fingerboards and campus boards offer the opportunity to hurt you in some way, careful attention to details is very important. Many Fingerboards and campus rungs are too narrow to hang with two hands if you are bigger than small. Or to put it more clearly, there is a better spacing for me, and other people whose shoulders are over a certain width. This has got nothing to do with pull ups, pull ups on the wrong spacing are very bad too.

Even if you are really lucky with the spacing on hangs and pull ups, you also have to be careful about many other things. Bench Press, Press ups, Dips, and Shoulder press, which must be trained as antagonistic muscles to a very strong back must all be undertaken with care, if you want to promote Shoulder care. Even Yoga must be done with due respect to your joints, and some Yoga I am afraid to say, is bad. Always try to understand what your shoulder is doing as just a tiny adjustment of the grip, or hand placement will often lessen the damage.

Sadly much of the difficulty in climbing is because it is not as user friendly as many people think. That is part of the challenge in climbing, getting more out of your body and mind. Getting around problems and in some cases avoiding problems that hurt too much!

If people are doing weighted hangs and pull ups just because some people advocate them be careful on your hand width. If you are doing them on a campus rung it might be too narrow for your frame.  I like over 50 and under 60cm, my companion who is 5 foot 2 can manage with a campus rung, or a small finger board.

Good luck, I wish you more fun and success, and less Impingement.