Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Honing the Anchor Punch

The upside of any injury is adaptation, unless of course you’re really into depression and apathy, but we’ll stick with the former for now. As I mentioned in a prior post, I’ve been sweating out my cabin fever at the nucleus of Santa Barbara County’s climbing universe (well, for those in the know at least), The Shed. Like any half witted climber I’ve accepted the loss of my legs as an ascent vehicle and focused my lust on upper body strength. Normally, this probably wouldn’t have been that big of a deal, because all the best climbing focused strength training is done without feet anyways. However, with my beat to shit shoulders and propensity for training induced injury, I was more than a little hesitant when I began what’s turned into a 6 month power focused training cycle.

However, and if you’re anywhere near wood give it a knock for me, the results have been pretty damn inspiring. Admittedly, I more or less learned to climb in this sort of training environment. While this may have not been the most productive use of my time as a beginner, it did teach me allot about what works and what doesn’t in the gym. Training at your limit is all about “slow and steady”. Methodical and calculated progression leads to success and anything else leads to injury. Period.

Six months ago, my shoulders felt so unstable that the thought of doing pull ups, let alone campusing, was frightening. Yes, I could climb, and climb sort of hard, but my arms and shoulders were a big liability.

Skip ahead to last night and things seem dramatically different. One of my long term “maybe I can do that someday” goals has always been to hang the shallow monos on the Yaniro Powerboard. I've seen Phil "Austrian Finger" Requist dominate those little divets of joy but I never thought I'd get there. Well, last night I didn’t just hang them, I did a short set (two 3 second hangs with a 10 second rest between) on them with my middle finger and then a while later, my ring finger. Massive gains in pocket strength? Check. Then I walked over to the pull up bar and cranked out one arm triples on each arm with only one pinky pad taking weight off. So, one arms, something else I’ve never been able to do (and sort of gave up on because of the shoulders)? Probably sometime very soon - Check.

The latter of these two is sort of mind bending because I’m told that there’s a SLAP lesion in my left shoulder (a tear in the labrum at one of the bicep attachments). On the subject of my shoulders, they aren’t any less fucked up and hurt/restrict/annoy all the time, but I’ve been able to adapt my techniques and strengthen healthy tissue enough to support fairly intense stress, or so it seems. My guess is that a surgery is still very necessary, but for the time being, the engine may be able to handle quite a bit of RPMs and Mr. Glass (one of the many affectionate nick names Elijah has gifted me) is enjoying the shit out of it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Little Leg that Could

Thursday, I celebrated 6 months on crutches with yet another doctors appointment. After going through the now all too familiar procedure of check in, snap photos, and lie in examination room for undetermined amount of time, Dr. Proctor arrived. The xrays were mounted on the slide screen, and to both of our surprise, the bones looked... better. Now, don’t get too excited, there are still obvious fractures all over the place. However, the pitch black rivers and lakes carved out between bone fragments are much less pronounced than six weeks ago. The combination of a bone stimulator (finally arrived after over two months of insurance/medical office bullshit), combined with a solid dose of self prescribed physical therapy is unquestionably creating dramatic results. Lets put it this way: There was more visible growth in the past month than in all of the first five months combined.

In fact, things looked so good that Proctor ended our short appointment with the suggestion to start putting some weight on the leg. The addition of weight to the almost forgotten bones and connective tissue of my lower left leg should truly supercharge the recovery process. Of course, this also means that there is now a strong possibility that a rodding procedure (popping the screws, drilling out the entire tibia shaft and stuffing it with a titanium rod) will be unnecessary. Needless to say I’m psyched.

Initially recovery was all about saving my foot. Over the past 3 months the goal has been to stimulate growth in the leg bones. Now begins phase three of recovery - learning to walk. But in the meantime, I’ve got some celebrating to do, and there’s a special twelve pack of Oly that I’m gonna need some help with. Bob? Bridget? Elijah?