Injuries and Medical Advice

Dodgy Elbows


I have a big climbing trip coming up in two months, and I aim to be in shape by then. I am, however, having elbow problems and am following your rehab routine, as outlined in Dodgy Elbows on your website. My elbows feel well enough to climb, but I’m climbing at a lower grade than usual. Is climbing helpful or hurtful?

—Mattias Erlandson, IFMGA mountain guide, Chamonix, France


Hands down, this is the most common question I receive via email. Although I indicate in the Dodgy Elbows article ( that continuing to climb is usually possible, the article is not about how to manage your training program from a clinical perspective.

Giving detailed injury management on such a multifarious condition is nigh on impossible. The aggravating load can present in an array of different patterns, each requiring differing management parameters. This is without even visiting the notion of why you have it in the first place, and how that plays into your rehab program.

First and foremost, the program must be tailored correctly to suit your version of elbow tendonosis. In anything but the most severe cases, climbing and/or training can continue, but in a fluid situation of constant adaption to achieve generally improving pain levels. Do not expect to improve fitness; continued training is about mitigating the rate of loss! Usually two months is enough to recover from most forms of tendonosis.

Feature image by Jon Glassberg

This article appeared in Rock and Ice 238

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