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Climbing/training with knee injury
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By Patryk
From DC
Mar 14, 2013
January 2008 on Birdland in Red Rocks, NV.
After tearing my left knee ACL on Monday while skiing in Utah, I am pretty bummed about losing out on the upcoming climbing season. Any suggestions on how to train/climb despite the injury? (I will have surgery on the knee fairly soon). I have access to a climbing gym and even a woody and rockrings at home.

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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
Mar 14, 2013
Day Lily.
Well there is a positive to this. You have a fairly unique opportunity to practice movement/isolation of one specific body part. Pick routes that have ample foot holds and practice (maybe start with medium size hand holds and larger) climbing on the one foot. Ideal? No, but its physical training (helping maintain your climbing specific adaptations) plus you are "forced" to isolate one leg over the other, one hand/arm over the other, etc. Just like one arm traversing but with one leg. Also feet off bouldering and hangboard workouts are fine. There's probably many more options if you use your imagination.

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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
Mar 14, 2013
Day Lily.
Also traditional pull ups and frenchies! When you're lame leg gets better you're upperbody will be more than ready. I don't know even what type of climbing you prefer but use this time to read (rock warriors way, how to manuals, etc) and work on your racking system, anchors and rope management techniques (lap coils, coils in a sling, etc). Use this time wisely and you'll be back in no time stronger (minus the lowerbody perhaps) and more practiced in various techniques (rope management, anchor craft, etc).

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By Crossing
From Breinigsville, PA
Mar 14, 2013
old rag summit
After surgery just hangout and watch climbing DVDs - your knee is going to hurt. Once you have the option of partial weight bearing then do some easy stuff on your rock rings to maintain finger strength but make sure they are at a reasonable height so that you can get on/off of them in control. As far as bouldering in general I would wait until your cleared from the doctor - you could easily tweek it and be right back to where you started. Your knee is going to be quite sore for a few weeks just from surgery and even after that bumping your knee into anything hurts pretty bad. You should probably just start with top roping once you get the go ahead for full weight bearing. I've had 2 knee surgeries (not ACL or tendon related) and I didn't really do anything climbing related during the recovery process and the losses I had in strength and whatnot were recovered within a few months.

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By mattnorville
Mar 14, 2013
Ship's Prow.
I tore my ACL and menisci and had surgery this past October. It was rough for me. Recovery for me has been long. I can't fight wildfires this summer, so I lost my job. Obviously, no skiing/riding till next winter which sucks. Surgeon won't let me climb for another 5 weeks or so. I also hate to be waited on by others and be disables. It took away a lot of confidence/pride I had. My knee is now at 80% now and I've been running a bit which is enjoyable now after so long not being able too.

Try to keep off the weight. I've haven't used my time like The Stoned Master recommends. It will come especially when you are on crutches and can't do much. The surgeon actually told me I couldn't do anything besides rehab for a few weeks/months. I ended up starting to brew and drink quite a bit. I've been lifting weights also.

Steph Davis had ACL surgery and was back at it a lot sooner than I am able too, so your mileage may vary.

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By mattnorville
Mar 14, 2013
Ship's Prow.
Crossing wrote:
As far as bouldering in general I would wait until your cleared from the doctor - you could easily tweek it and be right back to where you started.


My physical therapist assistant re-injured his new like that. I think it was around his 6 month mark or latter and he was cleared from the doctor. Bouldering at a gym landed on that leg and re-tore his ACL. He blamed it on not doing proper/enough physical therapy/strength training. He needed surgery again and had to go back through the recovery process. It did make him want to become a physical therapist, so that is cool.

One of my biggest fears at the moment

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By "H"
From Manitou Springs
Mar 14, 2013
Axes glistening in the sun
After 2 knee surgeries and a ruptured achilles repair I feel your pain! I did a lot of pull ups on my finger board and I also have a bowflex. I alternated days and work outs. This was also a key time to do some mental training. It is really hard for me to sit still and after my achilles repair last year I thought I was going to go nuts my foot was immoblized for almost 7 months!
Try not to do anything that will put unecessary pressure on the knee, but you might be able to do some straight leg raises to at least keep some muscle around the quads. Otherwise Let it heal and do what they tell you to do. (Reason I had a 2nd knee surgeries is because I didn't give it the time needed to heal)

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By Nate Reno
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Mar 14, 2013
Ellingwood Point Summit, Little Bear in the background.
I don't know how useful your knee is/will be, but if I were in your position, I would probably set up a hangboard and put that to use for some strength gains, without putting the knee at any risk. I'de probably use the remaining time to try to do proper knee rehab until I was confident that weird positions/landings wouldn't re-injure, and maybe work on overall body weight management.
Pullups and watching climbing dvs/reading would be less beneficial for your time as far as training goes, but sounds great if you have extra time to kill.

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By Patryk
From DC
Mar 14, 2013
January 2008 on Birdland in Red Rocks, NV.
These are all great suggestions, guys. Many thanks. I'll keep you posted!

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By Ross
From Pinewood Springs
Jun 23, 2013
Biker Fun
Hey Patryk,

So how did it go?
I recently (2 mth) had my ACL replaced with my hamstring. I went with my own hamstring instead of a cadaver because the risk was lower.

The injury has enabled my elbow tendonitis to heal so that was a plus. I will relish coming back to climbing after this time off, injuries allow us to take a step back and reevaluate ourselves in this sport.

I see some memories, fiddling with gear after a long run-out, getting up problems I never though I could, take on new light.
--Ross

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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Jun 23, 2013
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard
There have been some threads about this on other sites recently, see

supertopo.com/climbers-forum/2...

rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum...

I had mine done about a year and a half ago. I've posted to both the above threads so won't repeat myself here.

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By Tits McGee
From Boulder, CO
Jul 15, 2013
How I Send
I am currently three months out from ACL repair. I did the double bundle hamstring option. I have had a few set backs with my graft site healing, but actually have managed to return to work outs relatively quickly. I have been diligent with my pt and worked with a trainer to develop an ACL safe circuit based workout. As the weeks have progressed, I have increased the intensity and types of exercises. In the beginning, aprox. 2 weeks out, I focused on basic pt, core and upper body; as well as the stationary bike. At three months, I am comfortable with multi- joint/directional exercises with weight ( ex: squats/bicep curls/overhead presses). Be careful, take this time to "cross train" and heal. Sleeping in on Saturdays has been great! Best of luck.

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By Ross
From Pinewood Springs
Jul 16, 2013
Biker Fun
At 11 weeks out, the things I can't do, or do well: run, crawl, stand while riding a bike.
Others I've spoken to have said they see improvements in spurts but not me, seems to get a little better each day, it just takes forever...

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By Tits McGee
From Boulder, CO
Jul 16, 2013
How I Send
Ross,
Sounds like you are progressing just fine. I am in the 12th week and have not yet run or stood up on my bike...Crawling I haven't tried, as I didn't think it was an essential skill to have on the road back to climbing.

My recovery has been more on/off than progressively better. Today, I spent an hour in the pool swimming and deep water running. My knee felt stiff and weird, but didn't yesterday. So, I think you are having a pretty standard recovery. Just keep at it, and if you ever need a co-gimp partner to get back into climbing, hit me up.

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By Brendan Blanchard
From Strafford, NH
Jul 21, 2013
Obi Wan Ryobi - Darth Vader Crag, Rumney NH
mattnorville wrote:
My knee is now at 80% now and I've been running a bit which is enjoyable now after so long not being able too.


Really? I'd think running is about the worst possible thing for a recovering knee, but I've only dealt with a meniscus tear, a very serious one at that. This might not apply for ACL,MCL etc, but climbing is pretty low impact as far as the meniscus is concerned so I was back at climbing pretty quickly, whereas hiking is what gets me, even 7 months out of surgery now.

After my second surgery, I started a training cycle not three weeks after. Doing several weeks of ARC climbing, several sets a week wasn't too bad. I certainly favored my better knee, but was able to train through it and strengthen it as I worked into the rest of my training.

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