Elbow tendonitis

It’s difficult to imagine your life without that one person or activity that has transformed you into a better person.  But when that special person or thing has caused unbearable pain in your life that could impact your future, how are you supposed to handle that?  How must one deal with it?

I am currently recovering from separating from one of my loves, rock climbing.  I began climbing shortly after moving to California and have been hooked ever since.  I guess you could say I got carried away and climbed too often because in October, I developed pain in my wrists and elbows.

Eventually, the pain appeared not only on the rock but while playing guitar, resulting in my climbing friends urging me to seek medical advice.   But just  like the typical dedicated (or stubborn) athlete, I didn’t listen.

I mean, come on… I got this!  I worked as a physical therapy (PT) tech after undergrad so “why pay for someone to tell me what I already know?”  Instead of climbing, I lifted weights, attended fitness classes and performed PT exercises when convenient.  By week two, I ventured up to San Francisco to take a lead climbing “refresher” course with my friend, Shannon and all seemed well.  I was pain free!  I did it on my own!

After preparing to take the lead certification test at my local gym, my elbows flared up the following morning.  I recall rolling around in bed as an attempt to find the cool spots on the mattress–my joints were achy and hot.  When I finally dragged myself out of bed, I was overwhelmed with disappointment. I was stumped that those 2 long weeks (that felt like forever) did not allow me to recover.  I know being a PT tech taught me better but I thought I was an exception.  Don’t we all?

Alas, I succumbed to my friends’ persistence and found myself sitting in front of a doctor telling me to STOP.  He advised me to discontinue physical activity that involves my upper body for one to two months: rock climbing, belaying, rowing, weight lifting.  But guess what, guitar was okay. He suggested that I can play but when I begin feeling minor pain I must stop, ice it. In other words… I could practice guitar in small increments.

“You’re fortunate that you caught this early,” he told me while sharing his personal climbing story.  In addition, he recommended using the flex bar since it did wonders for him.  Needless to say, I am extremely glad I was scheduled with a physician I could relate to, otherwise I would have made the same mistake again.

To this day, I use the flex bar when my forearm feels tight. I read guitarists use it to prevent injury as well, so it’s definitely a great investment with a small price tag. I didn’t realize tennis elbow was also a problem for musicians.

But of course,

I am ever so thankful that my mild tendonitis never made me abandon my guitar.

I am pretty sure I would’ve been a wreck.

2 thoughts on “Elbow tendonitis

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