My fingers hurt. No, I didn’t pull landscaping duty. My hands just hadn’t been on a wall in quite some time.
Climbing is a sport I always end up coming back to. Since I was 12, I’ve been oscillating between extended periods of either climbing every day or cold-turkey none-what-so-ever. Each time I phase back in, I get the same result: my fingers hurt. My hands lose their grip on holds that my brain is certain I should be able stick no problem. My forearms fill with lactic acid long before I’m even half way up a short and easy boulder problem. I have to go through this annoying period. Every. Single. Time. What the heck?
By their nature, chronic adaptions don’t happen overnight, and (worse yet) they’re effects are reversible when the activity is no longer regularly repeated. There are always the same lingering symptoms following my first session after a break. The next day, writing is always a challenge due to the soreness in my arms. The skin on my fingers burns and it hurts to hold anything for a day or two – that is assuming I stopped climbing before they started bleeding, in which case healing takes a little longer. Plus, there are the demoralizing effects of dropping down a few grades. I’ve gotten used to it.
But, as quickly as everything is lost, it comes back again. It takes about week or two, at which point my skin literally thickens in response to the friction. My forearm endurance improves. I can hold on longer. I start sticking moves. The confidence comes back, and the grades creep higher. Finally, climbing becomes liberating and tranquil for me once more as my head and my body’s limits settle on a common ground. Chalk one up for chronic adaption!