“Push & Pull…Essential ingredients for Running and Climbing” is AJ Sobrilsky’s latest article in the Outside Bozeman Summer issue.
Read the article here: https://bit.ly/2EUnvJ2
AJ is a physical therapist in Excel PT’s Bozeman clinic who uses specialized gait and the Excel PT Climbing Lab to help treat injury and provide skilled performance assessments.
AJ Sobrilsky, DPT, OCS is a Physical Therapist and Orthopedic Clinical Specialist in our Bozeman clinic. AJ specializes in the rehabilitation and prevention of orthopedic sports related injuries with a specific interest in the management of those involving the upper and lower extremities. AJ received his Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree from Carroll University (Waukesha, WI). Following the completion of his DPT degree he participated in an Orthopedic Residency through Evidence in Motion at Bellin Health in Green Bay, WI providing him with advanced training in orthopedic manual therapy, clinical decision making, and patient centered treatment. Following completion of his residency AJ became an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) through the American Physical Therapy Board Association and received advanced training in dry needling for spine and extremities.
AJ has been a lifelong athlete, competing in cross-country and track through college and then racing competitively post collegiately. As a result of his personal experiences and passions, AJ has focused his continued education and clinical development around the athletic individual with an emphasis in: running, skiing, and climbing related injuries. AJ has had the opportunity to provide care for an array of athletic populations including youth sports teams, high school and collegiate athletes, and those competing at professional and Olympic levels.
AJ’s treatment philosophy emphasizes a collaborative patient centered approach. Structured around the patient, supported by current best evidence, and coupled with specialized exercise/techniques, AJ hopes to educate the patient on their current issue and provide them with the best course of treatment to return to their previous/desired level of activity.
When AJ isn’t working he is usually pursuing his next adventure: rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking, or running.
With the current state of things, many climbers who have not previously set up a hang board and/or training area at home are tackling these tools up at home and getting their hang on. Many others who had a routine of hanging at home prior to COVID-19 are back at it in full force. This is a great time to develop a more systematic approach to training.
Through this experience, trial and error has revealed some key points to consider when hanging at home. First and most important, how do you pull off a proper warm up without a climbing wall? I strongly believe your home warm up needs to be systematic to properly warm up while gauging how you’re feeling on a given day. It’s vital here to let go of your expectations (and ego) and to honestly assess your recovery from your previous bout of training. Sometimes you realize you’re feeling a lot better than you thought as you progress through your warm up. And sometimes you feel heavy and weak when you expected to feel great. Listen to your body and respect the process.
The first 20-25 minutes of your session should consist of a progression with light loading on larger holds trending toward the holds the given workout will emphasize. If you have the space and ingenuity to safely anchor a pulley set to offload some of your body weight (plenty of DIY info out there on this) this can be really helpful for warming up. For many this will enable you to train safely as your connective tissue in you fingers, hands and elbows adapt to this form of loading. You can also unweight your feet to progressively increase load keeping a little body weight on the floor, perhaps progressing to both or single tippy toe position.
Start with a set of 2-3 minutes with 10 seconds on, 10 seconds off hold times on a large 4-finger pocket edge or a jug on the top of the board. This should feel fairly easy; you should feel warmth in the forearms and hands but not enough strain to develop a pump. Take an equivalent timed rest period, 2-3 minutes. During this time you should perform active warm up drills for the upper body, perhaps a few push- ups or pull-ups, anything to get the blood flowing in the shoulders and arms. Repeat another warm up set, now 3 minutes in duration, still 10 seconds on, 10 seconds off but increasing the load or perhaps starting to decrease the hold size. Change one variable at a time and see how things feel. At the end of this set, you really want to feel the forearms working, working up to 60% effort to complete the set. Rest an additional 3-4 minute while performing continued dynamic upper extremity warm up drills.
For the last warm up set, I would recommend trending your on/off time to match the workout you are doing that day. A very common work out called repeaters involves 7 seconds on followed by a 3 second rest per rep. This set should be exclusively on the holds you are training on that day. I like to extend the rest time this set using 7 seconds on and 13 seconds off for the entire set to accommodate increased load. I find this fends off burning key energy needed for a successful workout while loading closer to the time and resistance for that given workout. This set should be 3 minutes and should be followed by a 5-minute rest prior to starting you workout for the day.
If you haven’t spent much time hanging recently you may surprise yourself and start the season stronger and more durable.
The Excel PT Climbing Lab exists to keep you climbing and improve your performance. We offer comprehensive injury management, video-based climbing analysis, and training plans.
Matt Heyliger, DPT, COMT of Excel Physical Therapy completed his Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington and is a Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist. He has a particular treatment focus in the relationship of cervical/thoracic spine mechanics and upper extremity conditions. Matt treats climbers through integrating video analysis and specialized biomechanical assessments in the Excel PT Climbing Lab in the Bozeman, Montana clinic. An avid rock climber, telemark/backcountry skier and mountain biker, Matt regularly practices yoga and enjoys frequent adventures in the mountains with his family.
“Physical therapist Matt Heyliger merges his passions for outdoor athletics and body mechanics to deliver fine-tuned, effective treatment. His interview offers tips for climbers on how to maintain stability and mobility on and off the rock.”
–Kelsey K. Sather
Kelsey K. Sather is a local Bozeman writer whose fiction and essays aim to promote humans’ connection to nature. As an avid climber and health enthusiast, she also writes about fitness, food, and outdoor play. Kelsey is passionate about using storytelling to advocate for gender equality and ecossytem preservation. She creates articles for her online journal, These Words Like Rocks, and curates The Work Behind the Bodyseries at her website kelseyksather.com.
As Part II in The Work Behind the Body series, the Worker’s Wo/Manual offers interviews with health and fitness professionals about bolstering athletic performance and overall wellness. Though most of the questions will relate to athletes of all genders, there will always be questions specific to the female body. The hope is to empower women and men through knowledge as they pursue their best selves in sport and life.
by Matt Heyliger, DPT, Physical Therapist at Excel Physical Therapy in Bozeman, Montana
While some of us are still hoping to get in as much spring skiing as possible, the season is changing and the thought of warm days and dry rock is enticing. This is the time of year when climbers realize that winter has taken a toll, and it’s time to grow our forearms again. It’s also when we’re at an increased risk of injury due to de-conditioning. So how can you make this your strongest season yet, red-point last year’s projects, and move on to new objectives? To get started, let’s review some well-documented training concepts, like the “4-3-2-1 concept” developed by Erik Hörst in his book Conditioning for Climbers.
Four weeks of endurance training: rack up as much mileage below your highest on-sight grade as possible. Shoot for three to four days a week of rope climbing on a variety of rock types.
Three weeks of power training. Head to Spire and spend those rainy May days bouldering. Complement this with hang-board training, systems training, or campus training.
Two weeks of anaerobic training. This is maximum-intensity training over short periods of time with equivalent rest time. For example, climb four boulder problems (or roped pitches) consecutively without rest, then rest for the same duration of time. Repeat to fatigue. This will increase your ability to dig deep in situations where rest is not an option.
One week of rest at the end of this 10-week cycle is vital for proper tissue healing and an injury-free season.
Additionally, antagonist training provides muscular balance without adding mass where it’s not useful. We do a lot of pulling in climbing so go push on something—high repetitions of push-ups and shoulder presses are good. Strengthening forearms is important for the stabilization of the elbows and wrists. Try the following exercises:
Forearm flat on thigh, hold dumbbell with wrist flexed. Bend wrist up (extend) to feel muscle activation on top of forearm. Lower and repeat.
Forearm flat on thigh, secure band with foot tracking band to outside of hand, palm up. Rotate palm downward feeling muscles inside of forearm, slowly return to start. Repeat.
Forearm flat on thigh, lower slowly toward opposite knee, return to start position feeling burn in extensors in each direction. Repeat.
Forearm flat on thigh, lower slowly in casting motion, return to start position feeling burn in top of forearm. Repeat.
Arm straight at side, weight facing back, perform casting motion back, slowly raising weight to feel burn in back of forearm. Slowly lower and repeat.
Theraband (or rubber band) around fingers with fingers bent. Straighten fingers and thumb and pull out and up. Hold for five seconds, return to bent finger position and repeat.
Shoulder stabilization is also key. Extensive research confirms the benefits of scapular and rotator-cuff stabilization for overhead athletes. In climbing, we spend a lot of time with our hands overhead pulling on holds in awkward postures. Try the pictured exercizes to protect your shoulders and prevent overuse injuries this season.
All climbers benefit from core strengthening regardless of ability. Emphasize more static exercizes, like plank and side-plank, as these aare more specific to our sport than crunches.
Do these exercises three times a week until you are climbing regularly, then cut back to once or twice a week for the remainder of the year to reduce the risk of elbow tendinopathies, wrist injuries, and finger injuries.
While just getting out and climbing is way more fun than training, being able to climb is also way more fun than being injured. “Roctober” is many months away, so tune your machine this spring and have an injury-free season.
Matt Heyliger, DPT is a physical therapist at Excel Physical Therapy. Please call the Bozeman office with any questions at 406-556-0562.
The information in this article is intended for informational and educational purposes only and in no way should be taken to be the provision or practice of physical therapy, medical, or professional healthcare advice or services. The information should not be considered complete or exhaustive and should not be used for diagnostic or treatment purposes without first consulting with your physical therapist, occupational therapist, physician or other healthcare provider. The owners of this website accept no responsibility for the misuse of information contained within this website
Excel Physical Therapy Community Education Series | Free & Open to the Public
“Common Rock Climbing Injuries: Prevention & Treatment”
presented by Matt Heyliger, DPT
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 | 6:30-7:30pm
Bozeman Public Library Community Room
Learn how to identify and self-treat the most common shoulder, elbow and finger injuries related to climbing.
Discover when it’s time to rest an injury and when it is safe to return to climbing after an injury.
Discussion of preventative exercises to protect against common climbing injuries.
Discussion of safe training techniques to reduce your risk of overuse/overtraining injuries.
Q&A with Matt Heliger, DPT after the talk.
Matt Heyliger, DPT has been an avid climber for the past 12 years and his passion for climbing has taken him around the US, Canada and Mexico. He enjoys all forms of climbing (trad, sport and bouldering) and loves the variation in movement and style inspired by different types of rock. Matt has developed a specific interest focus in biomechanics and how impairments at one level or joint affect other body structures. More specifically, he has a particular interest in the relationship of cervical/thoracic spine mechanics and upper extremity conditions. Matt practices in both the Excel Physical Therapy offices in Bozeman and Manhattan.
"I'm thrilled with the results from working with my physical therapist, Matt Schumacher. I was able to stop taking pain medication. Thanks to you all." -- P., Bozeman ClientView more testimonials from Excel PT clients »