Lessons in being patient

“I really shouldn’t be doing this!” I thought, while hanging upside down in a tunnel and trying to push my foot into the next black foothold for balance, as a searing pain shot up my right side, again.

Sometimes, injuries happen by accident or as an unfortunate consequence of doing something inherently correct and safe, but more often than not they are exacerbated by impatience.

Impatience that stops us from warming up before jumping on a difficult or technical climb; impatience that drives us to the pub half an hour early after a day of climbing outdoors, instead of stretching; impatience that brought me to the climbing gym on a Tuesday night after a weekend of climbing, when I already knew I had an injury.

“The bad news is, intercostal muscle strains often take many, many weeks to heal completely. Best case scenario is complete recovery in about three weeks. Worst case is 6 months.”

That was not what I wanted to read the day after, as I sat in my office chair, desperately trying to come to terms with the fact that there is no quick fix for this injury, while I found out what an intercostal muscle actually is.

The most frustrating thing about it is that it didn’t seem anywhere near this bad when I did it. A few twisty moves on the sandstone rocks down at Harrison’s made my right side feel distinctly sore, but it didn’t feel like anything a good stretch couldn’t fix. I made sure I didn’t skip the stretching that evening, and even (owing to circumstances, more than prudence) took the week off climbing.

I didn’t even think about that muscle the following weekend, the next time I went for a climb. But for the whole day it felt like I was walking a fine line between performance and injury, and any twisting move made me wince in pain.

Why on earth did I then go climbing again on Sunday, and again on Tuesday, you ask?

Because I have no patience.

At least I got some new climbing shoes that day. Which I can’t break in, because I can’t climb now.

But I can try and learn to be patient.

5.10 Anasazi
5.10 Anasazi

4 thoughts on “Lessons in being patient”

  1. I have a ten yr old daughter who has been doing competition cheer and dance for 7 yrs now. She has an intercostal muscle sprain – happened about 3 wks ago, and trying to reason with her about NOT practicing and avoiding all the physical activity, in order for it to heal, is proving to be difficult. Luckily, she has about a 5 wk break before her next competition and I am as stubborn as she!!!! Any advice on how to help the healing process along, would be greatly appreciated! !

    1. Ah it’s hard to reason with kids…but I guess the best way to explain it to her is that the longer she is injured the harder it’s going to be for her to get better, and train, and progress…I had to keep reminding myself that if I don’t take time off I would be out for months…

      As for exercises to help the healing – I got help from a physio friend, who basically said do some thoracic rotation and shoulder flexio exercises, get some heat over that area, maybe get someone to do some soft tissue work on it. And take a graded approach to recovery, it does take a good few weeks!

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