After an injury, the idea of getting injured again has plagued me in (and out of) the gym


By: Gym Jones

Coming off of an injury, the idea of getting injured again has plagued my successes in and out of the gym. Is this something you have worked through with your members or in your own experiences?


This is a tough one. The fighters and ball sports guys we work with have all been injured, and all returned to the sport. But I consider these fairly basic injuries and the only risk is that bad movement patterns develop during the injury, rehab, and recovery phases that carry into the future and set the player up for another injury. The psychological effects are not as great as those that come from taking a big fall and confronting mortality on top of the injury. Seeing Steve come back from his fall on Mount Temple has been eye-opening, makes me wonder if he will recover the fire that fueled his best ascents or if the spark faded on that ledge.

So, of those two ends of the spectrum the former, "lesser" requires patience during recovery and rehab, and a ruthless dedication to getting back to where you were, and then developing the strength, power, coordination and joint integrity to a greater degree than you had before because only increased capability will produce the self-confidence to truly rebound. If you don't come back and then go beyond, the physical and psychological deficit will always be there, like a stone in your pack. In this case, the gym or other, measurable artificial means of training and testing are of immense value. They must provide the foundation for the first real test in the mountains.

At one point when I was living in North Conway I had a second operation on my knee. I was non-weight-bearing for 12 weeks. I stayed on top of all aspects of fitness not dependent on the knee, kept a reasonably good attitude and then dedicated six weeks to gym and climbing wall training before going outside. I hit enough PRs in the gym to be confident enough that my first trip outside was to solo "Recompense" on Cathedral, which I recall being 5.9 and fairly scary. But doing that released (or overwhelmed) any fear of incomplete recovery or of having that stone in my pack. The artificial training itself may not have been ideally transferable but it gave me the confidence to go for it outside.

Coming back from near-death is another issue entirely, and very much individual in nature. I was fortunate that my close brushes with it never resulted in injury, and all of that recovery time to dwell upon, "What if?"

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