Lattice Training Log Part 6.5: The Pain Log


I am not a doctor or a PT. None of this is advise for how to diagnose or treat an injury, or what you can or should ignore. I want to communicate how injured/tweaked I feel from week to week, and how I typically deal with things that come up. ( The resource that’s worked for me has been Dave MacLeod’s book Make or Break. )
It seems to me that these sorts of issues are common in climbing and training. I think people have different levels of comfort and expectations with what’s considered a normal amount of tweaks / pain, vs what is a sign that you’re pushing too hard and need to change something.
I’m curious to see what people’s reactions to this post will be. Is this a typical rate of tweaks and injuries for bouldering, or are my expectations way off?

Week before assessment

About a week and a half before I started the lattice assessment, my left middle finger rolled while doing heavy hangs in half-crimp position. I experienced a sharp pain on the top-left of my DIP joint when I crimped. It didn’t seem to bother me while climbing (in the gym I can get away with open-handing almost everything). I focused on getting some movement on the joint (while it wasn’t painful), and lightly loading it for the first few days, until I felt like I could comfortably hang body weight. I then gradually added weight over the next week (3 sessions) until I got back to my typical training load for assessment week.

Assessment weeks 1 & 2

During the first week of the lattice assessment, when testing my open hand strength, my wrist got a little tweaked on the back, above where the tendon for the pinky passes. I would experience a sharp pain when rotating my wrist into certain positions. I traced the pain along my elbow and upper arm and found a really tender spot on the front of my shoulder. I think it was very sore from one of the workouts I did earlier in the week (front raises during the shoulder strengthening routine probably). Putting pressure on that spot made the pain in my wrist go away. I massaged that area gently but frequently with a ball and my wrist pain went away within 2-3 days.
Also during the first week of the lattice assessment, I got a sharp pain in my lower back. I’ve gotten this pain before, and I knew from previous experiences that it seems to have to do with soreness/tension in my hamstring. I used a foam roller on the hamstring (I put the roller on a chair and then essentially sit on it) which seems to make the lower back pain go away over the course of a day or two.
When I sit in my office chair (which I do for about 6-8 hours a day), I often tuck my right leg up on the seat. I’ve long suspected that this contributes to the lower back pain, so I finally decided to get a nicer office chair. I managed to find a used Aeron on craigslist. It’s comfortable enough to where I feel like I can sit with both feet on the floor for a while. I’m also trying to switch to standing more frequently. So far between this and the extra mobility I’m doing the lower back pain hasn’t come back (though it is taking a lot of mental effort to maintain the habit of keeping my legs on the floor).

Training week 2

As I mentioned in the log for that week, I ripped off the skin on the intermediate phalange of both of my pinkies. I taped it up to finish climbing, cut away the coarse / excess skin and filed down the surrounding callus.
The skin didn’t feel painful any more so I ended up not taping when I went back to climbing in week 3. I ended up tearing off the healing skin on my next climbing session. It seemed like the skin growing over the healing spots was kind of dry, so I ended up buying some climbing salve to hopefully help that recover a bit faster. I’m also definitely going to preemptively tape my pinkies for the foreseeable future, especially when doing volume on the tension board.

Chronic shoulder pain

I remember sitting out high school wrestling practice with two ice bags taped to my shoulders. That was almost 20 years ago. When I push really hard (typically this means projecting or working maximal moves too frequently), I tend to get aches in one or both shoulders, somewhere around my front deltoid (though sometimes my tricep or bicep is also affected).
Over the last 20 years, I’ve seen several different PTs with this issue, and I’ve gotten different treatments. I got a volume-based bicep strengthening protocol from one PT, so I did a lot of pull-ups for a while. One PT thought it was a nerve impingement, so I did some ulnar nerve glides. I was also given a battery of band exercises, working my shoulder in many directions.
I didn’t really feel like any of these really got to the root of the issue, or seemed to make a difference in how solid my shoulder felt. Now I take this shoulder pain as a sign that I’m not taking enough rest between high-intensity climbing days.
My shoulder flared up on Friday of week 2. I had done a max effort training session on Wednesday. It felt a bit tender on Thursday, and on Friday I tried to do a moderate session on the tension board again.
I ended up taking this as a sign that I was pushing too hard. I dropped down the load in week 3 as I mentioned in my log.

Training week 3

I rolled over in bed while sleeping and a muscle in the back of my neck seized up. Lifting my head up while lying on my back was doable, but quite painful and uncomfortable.
When I woke up, I stretched it out gently. I noticed that when I opened up my shoulders and squeezed my shoulder blades together, the neck pain went away. I also used a foam roller on the muscles around my shoulder blades.
While my neck was still a bit tender, I was able to go and do a training session that afternoon, and it didn’t really interfere.
I’m still kicking myself because I did a pretty heavy bench press the day before and didn’t stretch out after, or do my evening mobility routine. I bet that would have prevented this.

Training week 4

As I wrote about in Part 6, on Wednesday I hurt my right side (lower back through the shoulder blade to the neck) and something attaching to my collar bone / sternum. I was able to climb again Saturday, having dealt with the collar bone pain. On Saturday my neck was still bothering me a bit, though it went away during the warmup so it didn’t bother me while climbing.
Slapping and landing in presses also aggravated my shoulder, which felt a bit tender.


I feel like my fingers are always sore. I can’t really make a fist (my middle and ring fingers can’t curl completely into my hand) and the dorsal side of my fingers hurt when I do that.
They always feel better once I warm up, but I wonder if I should be doing more to keep them less angry.