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Trad climber
Auburn, CA
Jul 17, 2013 - 05:40pm PT
Ouch! It will get better. I messed up some ribs earlier (badly bruised or cracked) early in the year and can still feel twinges nearly 3 months later. It happened so fast and I was walking. I imagine off a bike it was really bad :-(

Good thoughts going your way.

(edit) I'm 46 btw

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Jul 17, 2013 - 05:48pm PT
Your recovery is highly dependent on your attitude and work ethic. People age when they fail to do what is necessary to recover.

You will heal more slowly than previous decades. However, you can jump back into climbing again. You may want to start with low angle routes that don't tax that shoulder too much initially.

If you can afford physical therapy - do it. Regular massage will help you regain range of motion, too.

Remember you pay medical professionals for their advice and help to return to the healthiest state possible. Be conservative at first, then push them. If climbing and biking are your goals, you must make that clear. Otherwise, they will guide you to desk jockey shape. Many will initially underpromise what you may accomplish.

The babyboomers are redefining expectations for our bodies at 50 and 60.

Good luck and don't settle for couch potato unless that is what you aspire to do.

I haven't had much trauma to my upper body. My experience is all with legs/knees/feet.
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Jul 17, 2013 - 05:55pm PT
Matt, I am also 57, and I have had enough injuries and ER time over the years (too much). (My mom always said I was an accident waiting to happen.)

All I can say is, concentrate on healing, take things slowly (and I'd say this to a twentysomething as well) never rush back from an injury, and your's sounds serious enough.

I think you will know when to push your body a bit further. But please don't rush back, take it easy. Let your body speak, not your mind/emotions. You may be itching to get out on the rock, bike, whatever. But follow your med professionals advice and take it slowly.

Listen to your body, it will tell you when to start ramping up. I know from experience.

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Jul 17, 2013 - 06:20pm PT

I'm sure you will agree that every injury is kind of unique. Coupled with that fact, each individual copes with various injuries in their own way, and some heel quicker than others. Dealing with pain is perhaps the most challenging aspect of all sports related injuries.

I can only tell you that I'm 67, and in the last 15 years, I've broken both ankles, one tibia, serious breaks to one foot, and a few other accidents.

Each time I've bounced back pretty well, but it all takes it's toll. I would rather live that way, than go the way of a coach potato; like many of my close relatives.

Your desire to climb will make all the difference in your healing up.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 17, 2013 - 09:20pm PT
Welcome back....give it hell!
Andy Fielding

Trad climber
Jul 17, 2013 - 09:58pm PT

In October 2011 when I was 49 I broke my left ankle one week before a planned climbing trip to France. I was gutted to say the least. The plaster came off in December and I under went physio which really helped and encouraged me to get back climbing. I was scared that when I first placed my foot in a crack and twisted that my ankle would just snap. In fact the physiotherapist told me to stop being a whimp and get out and go climbing. During the recovery time I also booked a trip to climb in Spain the following April. That really gave me the incentive to train and to heal rather than vegetate. So in the April I had a week in Spain, then in May I found myself in the Valley for the first time and did a bunch of classics. In July I had another trip to Spain and October saw me in France. So from the depths of despair I ended up having the best climbing trips of my life. An injury isn't necessarily the sign to stop it's just a punctuation mark to pause, take stock and move onwards. Here's wishing you all the best and a speedy recovery from this side of the Pond.



Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Jul 18, 2013 - 12:50am PT
I don't want to break ribs, bones, or my skull again.

Well, none of us ever want to, do we. But you start off thinking you're invincible and then time and experience takes it's toll.

Couple of practical things-

The fitter you are the more confident you'll feel, so find a partner that you can follow for a while til you get your fitness back. The fitter I am, the better my leading head.

Sport climbing can be a lot of fun and get you out there. A stick-clip goes a long way towards improving the safety margin.

Lead things well below your fitness level while you're getting your head, fitness and psyche back. When the climbing is beautiful, the grade doesn't matter. you still get those endorphins.

Welcome back Matt!


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jul 18, 2013 - 01:19am PT
I hate to point out the obvious but you might not want to go climbing if
you have vertigo. ;-) Other than that you'll know when you're ready.

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Jul 18, 2013 - 02:51pm PT
Getting old is hell ... (me 60) you just need to listen to your bod and what it's telling you. And like Locker pointed out, some days are better than others.

Lots of really nice stuff to climb up around Kern Slabs. I don't know when you last climbed, but tons of new stuff there and along the Sherman Pass road on both sides of the pass.

PM me if you wish to go climbing


Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jul 18, 2013 - 04:22pm PT
Your recovery is highly dependent on your attitude and work ethic. People age when they fail to do what is necessary to recover.

I think this is, perhaps, the best advice. I severed my Achilles tendon in a bouldering fall at the climbing gym about 18 months ago, and didn't get medical clearance to climb again until 9 months after the fall. I'm still not in adequate cardiovascular condition to do the climbs I intended this year, but even at age 62, I'm getting more fit, and I don't think in the end I'll have lost all that much.

As to the mental aspect, I've taken some pretty nasty falls over the years, and it usually took time to recover my confidence, but it always seems to come back. Just take it slowly and follow Dave Kos's advice -- don't worry about the rating. Just climb something comfortable until you get the feel back.

If you're looking for an old climber recovering from injury to climb with, let me know.


mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Jul 18, 2013 - 05:15pm PT
Please make that TWO of us, as I am trying hard to find some aged climbers just like yourself.

John, I've been meaning to contact you. Can we two get together and discuss the possibility of such a partnership? I've never climbed Toll House and would love to go there with an experienced, knowledgeable partner so we can "get on with the climbing" and not have any BS about which routes are best for us.

I can go at any time or any day. And I could go at any time, so the sooner the better. :-)

PM me, please. I'll wait for a reply. Thanks.

Matt, heed the advice of Phylpy. It's very sound.

Berg heil ("mountain healing")!!!!

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 18, 2013 - 06:08pm PT
I had surgery to replace a blown ACL when I was 68. It is now 17 months later. I've recovered perhaps 90% of my leg strength. Whatever it is, I don't notice it climbing at all.

I did nothing but rehab exercises for about seven months and then started climbing outdoors. I started leading immediately, on relatively easy things (5.5--5.7), because I didn't want to build up a mental block about that. When I follow climbs, I tend to think I'd have more trouble leading them then when I actually do lead them, so following doesn't help my mental state at all, and meanwhile your protection skills atrophy and you have to grab three pieces before you can get one placement.

From a climbing perspective, the biggest deficit I suffered is not related to the surgery at all, but is rather a decrease in hand endurance that has been extremely hard to reverse. This is perhaps a feature of age (and the amount of time I can reasonably devote to training), and I'm going to have to live with the results, but I'm still managing to get better, even if the pace is beyond glacial. In any case, it is hard to know whether the endurance decline is related to the seven month layoff or just the vicissitudes of approaching seventy.

I'd say work hard at rehab, but train smart and don't set yourself back. Get a bunch of climbs that are easy for you under your belt and don't think about pushing things for a good long while.
Magic Ed

Trad climber
Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Oct 5, 2013 - 12:54pm PT
I was 58 when I broke my collarbone, shoulder blade, 3 ribs, punctured lung, pulled every muscle on the right side of my body, smashed my right hand (my right thumb is now 1/4 inch shorter than the left). For 2 months I could do nothing but sit on the couch--it hurt too much to lay down.

No climbing for almost a year but after about 8 months I found that belaying others and pulling their ropes etc. was good therapy. Today, at 64, that broken shoulder is stronger than my left shoulder but like rgold, my overall endurance has never been regained.

Just go slow and savor every moment of your life.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Oct 5, 2013 - 01:13pm PT

This can be caused by a canalith (read: "canal" as in ear canal and "lith" as in stone.)

A canalith is a tiny chip of calcified material floating around in your ear canal, and as it contacts the cilia on the side of the canal it induces crazy vertigo.

I went through this last year. I didn't know wtf was going on, and went to a neuro who recognized the symptoms and sent me to a PT who knew the canalith re-positioning maneuver. One treatment fixed it 100%.

FWIW I am 60 and have had to rehab from injuries numerous and other things. My advice is to achieve a good base line of fitness before you think about climbing or you are open to more injury. In other words metabolic conditioning (be at your optimal weight plus cardio fitness,) and take up a strength / mobility practice like Pilates so you can move well, be strong in awkward positions, have good posture etc. I do Pilates and Yoga, but for me the Yoga is secondary.

These are the building blocks of climbing, the rest will follow.
Jebus H Bomz

Peavine Basecamp
Oct 5, 2013 - 01:18pm PT
I don't know collar bones. And I'm twenty years your junior. I broke my back though. I'd say to have more small term goals than big when recovering. It's good to see the big picture but when you are broken too much of the big picture is overwhelming.

Physical therapists are your friend and they are awesome at stitching all those small steps into one big recovery.

Stay positive, my friend, you will succeed!

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Oct 5, 2013 - 02:51pm PT

Mr. Bombz is absolutely correct. To stay motivated it is important to be able to see your progress. Keeping yourself focused on small and achievable goals is the way.

Oct 5, 2013 - 02:57pm PT
Suppose Evil Knieval was 80 and was hurt jumping 18 busses. Then he wrote he was not sure how
he was going to get back into condition to do 18 busses again. What would you say?

When you are that old getting all the way back is an illusion. "Back" is a steadily declining quantity.
Keep at it and you will need a walker to get to the undertaker's. Better to get real and be able to
walk to the undertaker's, in no pain and enjoying the flowers the whole way.

Boulder climber
Oct 5, 2013 - 03:19pm PT
I'm twenty years older than you, Matt, and have had a few minor calamities along the way. From my perspective, the older you become the more rigid should be an exercise schedule. Not harder, of course, but you must keep at it religiously, session after session, or you will slide into a decline from which there is only a slight chance of regaining strength. Jack Lalanne exercised every day until his mid nineties, and there was a feature a few days ago in the Denver Post of a man in his late nineties going regularly to the gym and feeling good. Climbing is an activity one can theoretically do into old age, since technique and style can compensate for diminishing strength. But in my case severe shoulder arthritis intervened a few years ago, limiting motion and sometimes painful. Nevertheless, I kept at bodyweight exercises and usually feel invigorated after a workout - deceptively youthful, in fact. It's an illusion, but much better than the alternative.

Trad climber
Costa Mesa, CA
Oct 5, 2013 - 06:51pm PT
You can expect good days and bad days...

Hard days and easier days...

Most of all you can expect to have a BLAST when back to climbing...

No, but "yer gonna die?"

What is the world coming to?! haha

A long way from where I started
Oct 5, 2013 - 11:19pm PT
I've broken rather a lot of myself and can only echo what Mr. Bomz said above:

I'd say to have more small term goals than big when recovering. It's good to see the big picture but when you are broken too much of the big picture is overwhelming.

It's great to have a picture in your mind of one day being able tackle the goals you had before the injury, but when it takes everything you have just to move your leg a few inches, it is better to focus on moving your leg half an inch further today than yesterday than to worry about whether you'll climb K2 next year.


Stair climber, lost, far away from Poland
Oct 6, 2013 - 02:08am PT
Jgill, so great to learn from your experience!

Being active EVERY day is key. Finding the right amount of excercise when recovering from injury is NOT easy. My philosophy is I would rather be too active than too passive (being 60 years old).

My mantra, "I will be back", is very helpful too, even if it's not true :-)


Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Oct 6, 2013 - 10:02am PT
The 'illusion' jgill speaks of has kept me strong and returned me to health through many trying times.

Perspective and attitude are within your control.
Be consistent with your training and know this will benefit your progress. When motivation evaporates, put your head down and keep working, knowing that this is what you need to do to return to health.

Be selfish and stubborn with your health. Hold onto it as if your life depends on it.

Oct 6, 2013 - 10:23am PT
might want to look into using growth hormone (HGH) or if that is too hard to find (it is illegal after all) then look into these injectible peptides: CJC1295 without DAC, GHRP2, GHRP6, and Ipamorelin. You need the first one and one of the latter three combined together as daily injections 2-3 times. This will boost GH levels to that of a 20 year old man and your recovery will astound your doctor provided you are doing it in conjunction with rehab exercises and a sound diet.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Nov 11, 2013 - 11:32am PT
Staying the course. Good for you, Matt. Keep pushing up.

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Nov 11, 2013 - 12:03pm PT
Good to see your updates, Matt. Enjoy getting out there!
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