Thursday, June 28, 2012

Now that I have recovered from a horrendous spring semester of school and been able to finally get out climbing on the weekends on a regular basis, I finally have enough material to write a blog post. Also, I am almost officially healed up from the injuries I have been struggling with for the past 2 years. I have a rough time explaining exactly what caused the injuries so I asked my chiropractor, Dr. Andrew Rostenberg to briefly explain what was going on.

 “I'll summarize your injuries....When you first came to my office you had irritation of several important nerves coming out of the left side of your neck from C4 to C8. These nerves were under stress b/c you had several vertebrae that were misaligned and not moving correctly. These spinal misalignments caused extensor muscles in your neck, shoulder, arm, wrist and fingers to weaken or not fire fast enough. Since only the flexor muscles were working well, and the extensors were inhibited, every time you climbed your whole body was out of balance. The extensor muscles give the body stability for complex movements like climbing and gymnastics. When extensor muscles cannot fire fast enough b/c of irritation of nerves, the muscles cannot protect the joint from damage. Muscles act like shock absorbers and they keep our joints in the right position. Because you had bones out of place in your neck, and this weakened the muscles of your left arm, you developed pain in your left arm/shoulder/elbow area. Certain muscles became very tight, full of toxins, and low in oxygen and nutrients. These muscles became very inflamed and painful and prevented you from using 100% of your potential. Every time you climbed your body put the brakes on your performance b/c it was trying to protect you from doing damage. We had to "turn on" the extensor muscles by aligning your spine and relieving the pressure off of those important nerves in your neck. These nerves form most of the brachial plexus and become the radial, median, ulnar, axial and musculocutaneous nerves. We had to fix your body at the source of the problem - the spine - then assure that your nervous system would work 100% and your muscles would function correctly. We adjusted your neck, back and pelvis and we adjusted your wrist, elbow and shoulder. We also treated you by adjusting the bones of your skull that had become locked and weren't moving (all the bones of the skull are supposed to move). These chiropractic adjustments realigned the bones into their proper position, restored proper motion, relieved pressure on nerves and allowed your body to heal itself. Once your nerves were restored and working 100%, the muscles fired correctly and your body stayed in balance. Chiropractic allowed your body to heal itself by removing the interference in the nervous system.”

-Dr. Andrew Rostenberg

Dr. Andrew makes a quick send of Peaches V7/8 at Reynolds Creek.  He had not bouldered in over a year.  Nice Work!

 So this all started back in March of 2010, my middle finger on my left hand started to swell after working on a crimpy problem at Swan Falls. I continued to climb on it until May and took a break. I started climbing again and it still hurt. I assumed it was a stress fracture of some sort. I took another break, nothing. I finally went to a hand specialist in Boise and she did not know anything but told me it was not a stress fracture. Eventually after no improvement Mike found a massage therapist in Boise at a place called Hybrid Health. They helped some, but still were not able to find the root cause. Finally, during the Deck the Walls climbing competition in December 2011 at The Boise Front Climbing Club, where I work, Dr. Andrew Rostenberg was there with his chiropractic table and he approached me about my climbing injuries. He gave me a quick exam and told me I should come in soon. He told me he could get me back to climbing in half a dozen sessions. I could not believe it, I was so stunned that someone had the confidence to tell me they could actually help me climb again. I did not make it in right away but finally had the time in early January. In that first session he made quick progress if figuring out why I was not able to climb. It was the biggest relief. I was so shocked that there was actually someone who knew what was going on and he was a climber so he understood the strain a climber’s body goes through, which the vast majority of doctors cannot comprehend.

 Although my finger started to swell in 2010, my neck could have possibly been out of place because I fell backwards off of a 12 foot deck onto my neck when I was in 6th grade. All through junior high, high school, and college I had terrible headaches weekly that now have been relieved through Dr. Andrew’s help and a change in my diet. Before going to Dr. Andrew, these two events seemed like they would not be related at all but now after going to multiple chiropractic sessions and discussing my diet, exercise routines, climbing, and past injuries, they all relate to each other.

Just figuring out what is wrong is only one part of the recovery process. Dr. Rostenberg has given me many extensor exercises that must be done twice a day as well as exercises and stretches to do before I workout. He also recommended I change my diet. I have always thought of myself as being a healthy eater, but like many people, when I snack, I snack on carbs. When I stressed, I eat carbs, when I don’t have a lot of time, I eat carbs. He recommended I cut out sugar, alcohol, coffee, dairy and gluten. I stuck with this for about a week, and realized it may be a little too extreme to cut all of it out at once. Since January, I have done my best to cut out all gluten. I still have a cup of coffee in the morning and treat myself to the occasional dessert, and I will admit I still enjoy gluten free beer or glass or two of wine, but I have become more conscious overall what I eat and drink. I try and have more veggies with every meal and I try to eat 5-6 times a day rather than eat two huge meals a day (breakfast and a very, very late dinner.) Since going gluten free I have more energy, no longer have headaches, I'm in a better mood (Mike can vouch for that) and although I have not lost any weight (darn it!) I feel better overall and enjoy having snacks of veggies and hummus rather than wheat thins which really did not fill me up anyways. Mike has gotten more creative with his cooking and enjoys making gluten free meals for me which is really not that hard to do. He has also mastered gluten free bread that I actually prefer to normal bread now.

Dr. Andrew spotting me on "Flows on top of Flows" at Reynolds Creek

 Alright, as far as my climbing goes, there are still some struggles there. If I don’t keep up with my stretches and exercises I still have days where I feel out of whack climbing. Whether I feel shaky on the wall or not quite up to my full strength, I still have a lot of improvements to make. So far this summer I have only done a little bit of bouldering and have started to tackle route climbing. I have always struggled with falling on a rope. When I pull on to the wall with a harness on, my muscles just shut off and I am unable to climb to the best of my ability. Dr. Andrew tested to see if this is actually what happened by having me say “trigger words” that may cause stress to my body. When I said “falling” my body was much less receptive to strength tests. So basically when I have the thought of falling in my head, my body shuts down. You know when you have those dreams where you are trying to run away from the monster and you can’t because your legs won’t move? Well this is how I feel every single time I get on a rope. It is no fun to climb when all it does is stress you out. Dr. Andrew gave me some exercises to do as well before I climb on a rope to calm myself down and it is helping immensely. Last weekend I took a good fall failing to clip the anchors of Free Ballin’, a .12c in Riggins, ID. It was pretty embarrassing falling there, but the important thing was I was able to climb my hardest while on a rope and take a fall without freaking out. Next weekend I hope to send it first go, so we will see how that goes. I have a few other routes I am hoping to make progress on such as Gillywrinkle, a 5.12b, White Trash, 12.c, and possibly start work on Yahtzee, 12d/13a.

Doing the "crux" move of Free Ballin' in Riggins, ID

I was hoping to write this post after I had made an astounding send of something after spending the last two years battling multiple health problems. But climbing is not always about the sending, it is also about being able to climb to the best of your ability in a healthy and effective way. When I fell at the anchors of Free Ballin’ I was pretty upset and disappointed in myself, but Mike reminded me where I was a year ago, injured and with no answers. I can’t tell you how many climbers I talk to who say, “Oh yeah my finger has hurt for years, I just tape it" or "yeah my shoulder is all out of place, but whatever." It is common for climbers to live with their injuries because there are very few people who know how to effectively treat climbing injuries. But now there ARE people, like Dr. Andrew. Six months ago I was actually thinking about giving up on climbing altogether, now I don't think that thought will ever have to cross my mind again.  It is an ongoing process and takes a lot of discipline to stick with a healthy routine that works. But I went 2 years without being able to do something I love, and I now I want to try and do everything possible to keep that from happening again. 

-Kaiya Bockino

 If anyone would like more information about Red Mountain Chiropractic please visit Dr. Andrew Rostenberg’s website or email him at