Fixing the wrist

Its been 3 full weeks since I tweaked my wrist during the National Training session. I must admit sheepishly, that the onset of this injury is really uncalled for, foolish in fact. On hindsight, always warm up, especially when you are already old (28 years old is no joke). Jotting this down here to recount my recovery process, and to also remind myself of the techniques and methods I used to get myself back into shape.

So basically, I aggravated an old injury when I was working on my speed runs that weekend. Somehow my pulls were too much for my wrist/shoulder to bear. In addition, we did a full round of a mock competition setup for boulde and some moves were just abit too much for the wrist. I previously had a full thickness tear of the membranous scapholunate ligament, partial thickness tear on dorsal side. Slight fray of the triangular fibrocartilage foveal insertion.

Perhaps I might have made those tears worse, I dont really know as I didnt get it checked again. I dont remember how I got it, but this left wrist of mine has given me some problems since secondary school — when I started playing with trial bikes. Hehe.

Taken from

Perhaps this might explain the occasional absurd feeling of my bones being pulled apart while hanging, or how I cannot get into a push up position, i.e. extension of wrist to 90 degrees.

The previous time I felt such sustained pain from climbing was January 2016. So to experience this injury again is too close for comfort. And especially since I confirmed my participation in the upcoming IFSC world cup in Nanjing, World cup. This year, this is the only circuit which falls on a long weekend, so its the only window I have to be able to have time off from work to join at least one of the legs in this circuit.

Back to reality, it was a painful and tormenting period for me. I took a few days off from climbing and worked on my other weakness (legs, flexibility, side steps, core). I did more slab routes and worked my hips to take my mind off not being able to climb. I experimented with various ways of taping.

The first one I did was to work on recovery. Apart from limited wrist mobility, the base of my thumb was feeling pinched. There was this great amount of pain when I worked my thumb to little finger opposition. Due to the tear, I assume either scaphoid or lunate must have shifted out of its usual alignment. I worked some RocTape to pull the thumb back and then stretched recovery lines down the forearms. It got better over the next few days. And then, I climbed.

Taping method #1

I thought that after the first week, my injury had subsided and I was able to get back into my training regime. I was wrong. The day after that climbing session, the pain was back where it started. I was left feeling miserable and almost helpless at this injury. But yes, I must admit that I was too impatient and hurried to get back into climbing. So this is my own doing.

I spent the next few days back to the start of my recovery process. I went to see Marcus Bernini at physiokit to work some release. And then I went back into taping.

I dont want to bore you with the details, but this cycle went on for a few times. I tried to climb for a few sessions and then went back into experimenting with taping. I realised that I had to leave my tape on through the night so that the taping can help the pain subside while I sleep. I experimented once again with a new way of taping. This time I worked a spiral to pull the thumb back and work some support around the wrist (method #2). This allowed movement of my thumb to little finger opposition without restriction or pain. Success rate is high for this method if you were to ever experience this kind of pain. I was able to climb at 60% AND not feel the backlash of the injury after the session.

Taping method #2

This worked for about 1 week. But I knew taping alone wouldnt suffice. I could leave it on for a few days, but I didnt want to be doing this FOREVER. So I wrecked my brains to remember how I got over this injury the previous time.

I remembered that I was told to work my shoulders. Not TRX, or simple weights. But there was this one strengthening exercises that helped the most. So basically, I worked to raise my arms from hips to above my head steadily, with shoulder blades tucked back, while minutely wobbling the weight/stick I was gripping in my hands. I work my arms up twice, taking turns, and then rested.

This was week 2.5. My wrist was feeling better, but then whenever I got pumped, I could feel the wrist pains coming in. I felt that as long as I kept the tape tight around my wrist (method #3), this helps hold everything into place. Perhaps this might be due to the triangular fibrocartilage — in which I highly suspect that it might be slightly more injured compared to the previous time I checked..

Taping method #3, typical wrist taping

So currently I am on the simple wrist taping method. I can climb at 75% potential and have slightly better range of motion for the wrist. Ulnar deviation still hurts at the base — I am still unable to pinch at this angle. One arm hangs on my injured left side are still shaky, despite deliberate engagement of shoulders to tank the weight. Wrist extension is about 75 degrees with fingers straightened. Holding some slopers are fine, except those that require the hands to wrap fully over and around.

Recovery is still ongoing, I am not sure if I will be ready by the end of April. I might forgo this circuit if this wrist does not get better. Sigh. For now, I am thankful that I am still able to boulder at least, to climb and move on the wall. I do enjoy discovering more about the body, and finding out ways to make things work and get better.

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