Mental Recovery

Quit whining. Drink bourbon. Climb more.

Mental Recovery

Postby The3rdear » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:12 am

I'm a sport climber. I do a little trad and bouldering, because they are still climbing and still fun, but at the end of the day I'd always rather do sport. My main beef with bouldering is that when you fall, you hit the ground. It almost seems stupid to me. Fall,hit the ground. Fall, hit the ground. Fall, hit the ground...For this reason, it seems like most injuries happen,while bouldering, another reason I dislike it.

Well, it finally bit me in the ass. The other night, I fell awkwardly off the last move of a boulder problem in my gym, maybe 12' up (no spotter or extra pads). The floor of the gym is made of dense foam. It seemed like all my body weight went into my right wrist, and I broke 2 bones in my forearm (radius and ulna). The radius break was bad enough to require surgery and pins to properly replace it. The dr. said 6-8 weeks full recovery.

Before I get to the point, let me preface by saying that I am very aware that this accident could have been easily avoided by a few simple precautions on my part (first and foremost DON'T BOULDER). I'm kicking myself every time I think about it, so give me a break if you decide to respond.

The real thing I've been struggling with is not the physical recovery, but the mental recovery. It sounds like I should make a full recovery, but will I ever be able to climb hard sport again? Even if my bones and muscles go back to normal, will I be able to get back up there without the fear of breaking bones again? I definitely feel comfortable on rope with a good belayer, and I've never had a sketchy fall while sport climbing. But we all get into situations where you "can't" fall (at least it would be ugly). My wife has brought up the very logical point, "how do you know you WON'T fall in these situations?" So I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to climb again without that fear of breaking bones looming over me. Has anyone else been in this situation? Were you able to recover mentally and get back to hard sport climbing? Is there anything you had to do special/change to do so?

Thanks.
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Re: Mental Recovery

Postby clif » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:29 am

getting old has made me much more cautious (and unwilling to really try that hard at climbing :( ) than the 6x times i've broken various pieces of my arms.

as for trepidation, a climbing injury did have me second guessing more on lead for a while. had a great belayer that paid attention, talked me through it and helped set me straight. took a little time.
training is for people who care, i have a job.
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Re: Mental Recovery

Postby Dhaulagiri » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:54 am

Before I get to my response, let me preface this by saying that bouldering is not something to be avoided simply out of fear of injury. Sure, bouldering can be dangerous. Shit happens. But shit can happen during other types of climbing as well. Case in point:

This past April I was sport climbing in the Red when I heard a loud pop in my ankle. I wasn't doing anything crazy, just doing the normal stand-up-on-a-foothold move I've done thousands of times on a sport route in the Red. I've done countless "more dangerous" things like trad climbing, bouldering in the gym, bouldering outside without spotters, etc. but never had something like this happen. I ended up having surgery and I didn't walk without a cast/boot until mid-August.

For me the mental side of recovery went hand in hand with the physical. At first, when things still felt weird or painful or uncomfortable it was hard to mentally commit to things, even the most basic foot movements. Over time this will go away. As your body recovers, your arm will start to feel more normal and concurrently you should start to feel more at ease about pushing yourself. Patience is the key.

In the past month I've started sport climbing at the Red again and while I told myself I would take things slow that didn't really happen. That said, you just need to let your body guide what you do. If there are certain scenarios or moves that you know will give you problems then do your best to avoid those things. Toprope some routes for awhile until you feel more comfortable. Given what your injury is I wouldn't be too concerned about sport climbing being dangerous in and of itself since it is unlikely you could reproduce the same injury while doing it. Of course climbing can still be dangerous and you still could hurt yourself again, but that has no correlation with the fact that you got hurt once before.
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Re: Mental Recovery

Postby tbwilsonky » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:59 am

it will probably trick you into a few unnecessary takes, but just remind yourself you are just as likely to get hurt now as you were before the injury.
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Re: Mental Recovery

Postby toad857 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:10 pm

The3rdear wrote:So I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to climb again without that fear of breaking bones looming over me.


No. Your days of complacency are over.
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Re: Mental Recovery

Postby milspecmark » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:24 pm

I have dealt with a broken leg with a rod in my leg now. I broke it racing motocross on a large jump. It took 7 or 8 months before I could ride again. 12 months after that, I was mentally recovered and hitting larger jumps again. Bottom line, time does wonders to the mind.
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Re: Mental Recovery

Postby anborn » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:16 pm

Bones heal just as strong (if not stronger) than they were before the break. You'll be physically set long before you will be mentally set. Time and patience are all you need. And then its just trusting the arm and the muscles again.

Prepare to be surprised at the atrophy you experience in the short amount of time you are recovering. You'll want to take the time when getting back into climbing to ease back in so you don't hurt the muscles/tendons as you strengthen them.
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Re: Mental Recovery

Postby japones » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:17 pm

Dhaulagiri wrote:This past April I was sport climbing in the Red when I heard a loud pop in my ankle. I wasn't doing anything crazy, just doing the normal stand-up-on-a-foothold move I've done thousands of times on a sport route in the Red. I've done countless "more dangerous" things like trad climbing, bouldering in the gym, bouldering outside without spotters, etc. but never had something like this happen. I ended up having surgery and I didn't walk without a cast/boot until mid-August.
.

I had a similar pop while in the northeast at a gym; was shaking out on a bouldering route and when i started to push off my right left, my knee popped. Never went to the doctor, but it was a tendon or ligamen tor something. I ended up barely being able to walk for about two weeks, and couldn't do anything strenous for a few months. Couldn't really extend or compress my right leg.
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Re: Mental Recovery

Postby Dhaulagiri » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:21 pm

japones wrote:
Dhaulagiri wrote:This past April I was sport climbing in the Red when I heard a loud pop in my ankle. I wasn't doing anything crazy, just doing the normal stand-up-on-a-foothold move I've done thousands of times on a sport route in the Red. I've done countless "more dangerous" things like trad climbing, bouldering in the gym, bouldering outside without spotters, etc. but never had something like this happen. I ended up having surgery and I didn't walk without a cast/boot until mid-August.
.

I had a similar pop while in the northeast at a gym; was shaking out on a bouldering route and when i started to push off my right left, my knee popped. Never went to the doctor, but it was a tendon or ligamen tor something. I ended up barely being able to walk for about two weeks, and couldn't do anything strenous for a few months. Couldn't really extend or compress my right leg.


I've done something similar to both my knees while bouldering. Got the first one checked out and it was a torn LCL. Took about 6 weeks before things got back to normal in both instances.
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Re: Mental Recovery

Postby Spikeddem » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:20 pm

My advice for you is to check out The Rock Warrior's Way by Arno Ilgner.
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