Recovery, maintenance and injury prevention strategies


Dr. Nick Savatgy working some ART magic on my forearms. Photo by

Body care is extremely important when consistently pushing your physical limits. Training for climbing is meant to break your body down to eventually build up the machine you hope will take you to the successful achievement of your goals. To sustain this level of impact on the body, build some resilience and promote healing, the body needs more than just brute force climbing and rest.

In this entry, I will share some important tools in my recovery strategy toolbox. These strategies have worked for me when used in conjunction with one another and I attest to their benefit. However before you consider trying anything on your own, consult a physician or your health provider to learn how or if you should take advantage of similar methodologies based on your health and wellness plan.

Because of the intense computer work I do coupled with the intense training and climbing I attempt, my forearms take a huge beating. They are fatigued on the regular and overuse is an understatement. I do all the right counter and antagonistic training to help prevent injury but I find it isn’t enough on it’s own.


Getting some heat and e-stim before seeing Dr. Savatgy for some ART and graston work. Photo by

There was a period of time when I had overuse syndrome in the worst way. I was treated for carpal tunnel and thoracic outlet syndrome. I couldn’t hold a magazine for more than 5 seconds without getting pumped. Brushing my hair, lifting arms let alone typing were significant challenges that lasted for 6 months. I wasn’t aware of what I was doing to my body until I trashed it to this point. The recovery period was difficult, long and painful, but I learned how to take care of my body better.

The importance of body work to keep the body supple and loose cannot be overstated,  especially as an adult. The older you get the tougher the muscles are getting and the more rigid the joints are getting. Sounds horrible, right? There’s not a lot we can do about it except keep moving and doing what we do but more consciously. Activity has a way of keeping the body young and healthy so long as it is cared for in return for this use. Continue to blindly train like you are 13 or 20 as you get older and you will get hurt.


Dr. Savatgy using the Graston technique on my forearm. photo by

Active Release Therapy (ART) coupled with the graston technique was one of the methods I incorporated into my recovery and maintenance program. I have upper trap and neck tightness that can constrict nerves, blood flow and cause headaches. This from too much computer work with poor posture, which I struggle daily to correct. My forearms get tight from keyboarding and training. Too much flexor focus and not enough extensor work. The forearms burn by the time I get to a paragraph like this, therefore it’s imperative I keep it under control. ART helps.

I mentioned that I do antagonistic muscle training and training the extensors to compensate for all of the flexor use is top priority. Do this! These include reverse wrist curls, rubber band finger extensions, hammer wrist curls, front and lateral dumbbell raises, deadlifts and cable eye pulls.


Dr. Savatgy stretching out my forearm while employing a little ART technique. Photo by

Stretching. There are two mindsets on the benefits of stretching. I am not going to debate them here, this post is long enough already. I believe stretching helps keep the muscles and ligaments loose, pliable and promotes blood flow. There are some basic stretches that help with the forearms, hands and fingers. Do them! (after climbing, after training, never cold)

Warm up. Do something to get the blood flowing and the body loose before you get on the wall. This will help prevent injury and prepare you for your workout or fun time climbing. Not warming up is a recipe for disaster down the road. I can write another blog entry just on the above points.

I do all of the 3 essential activities listed above and it helps, but sometimes, I need more. Sometimes my elbows or upper traps are too tight and no amount of stretching or antagonistic training or warming up will help me get full function back. Think of lactic acid and scar tissue from muscle break down as adhering in less than optimal ways, binding tissues together that should otherwise move freely and independently. Sometimes a massage is all I need, but more times I need both the massage and targeted ART work. With this tissue work, the ‘bond’ is broken and I can feel the difference in my stretches and climbing. I take the stretches deeper and my climbing feels springy, loose and overall more productive.

Audrey World Cup Vail 2010

Audrey competing in the World Cup for bouldering in 2010 in Vail, Colorado. Photo by Mike Doyle

When I was learning how to train for climbing competitions, I quickly learned that body work was an essential ingredient to my training plan. Now, it’s fundamental and a staple. When I map out my training, there is time in there for the warmup, antagonistic training, cool down and body work. The more intensive the training, the more often I get the body work. If I’m just out climbing freely, I probably get a massage once a week or every other and ART every month. When I’m in the throes of training or high mileage, then I get massage once a week and ART once or twice a week.

I see Dr. Savatgy in Las Vegas at Canyon Lake Back and Neck Center. He does ultrasound, e-stim, ice, chiropractic care, ART and graston. I’ve been using him since 2010 and absolutely swear by his care. I am constantly pushing my body to fatigue and making demands on joints in explosive and intense ways. These simple and effective strategies, I believe, have kept me healthy and capable and keeps my aches and pains manageable so I can tackle what I love to do with full effort and confidence.


Canyon Lake Back and Neck Clinic

Canyon Lake Back and Neck Clinic

Back and Neck Care

Back and Neck Care


Getting some e-stim setup on my forearm. Photo by

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About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climbing athlete and computer software/technology enthusiast.
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