Steph Davis: Recovering from an Injury

Advice and tips on how to train while injured and recovering.

Recently I reached out to Steph Davis, a professional climber and a huge inspiration of mine for years, for a few tips on training while injured. Specifically, training to not suck at climbing once “recovered”. This was all prompted by my own injury – a broken leg (read about that here).

Being an avid climber and temporarily held back by an injury makes a period of rest feel like an eternity. As it turns out, there are plenty of ways not to let your climbing progress slip in your absence from the vertical world. Fast forward two months from doomsday, or the day my climbing world was put on hold by a pesky cast, I am back on the rock. And while I didn’t hop back on the wall and send those projects I may have sent pre injury, I can at least work them without feeling completely defeated. In fact, I returned to multi-pitch climbing exactly 8 weeks after the injury with a 15-pitch slab climb as my test piece. Results are in – I’m back!

Steph Davis had some creative training tips for injured climbers. My favorite is her idea to rig yourself in a harness and perform hangboard exercises as well as swimming. I found swimming to be a very valuable recovery tool once my cast was removed. The water put just the right amount of pressure on my leg/ankle in various directions which led to massive strengthening and a decreased amount of time spent recovering. Read all of Steph Davis’ recommendations on training while injured at her website:

A friend of mine, a Physician and the Director of Landstuhl Crossfit, also came to my rescue with a list of workout exercises that can be done even when you are short a leg. Here are some exercises he recommended:


  • Bench press
  • Seated shoulder press
  • Push-ups
  • Dips


  • Pull-ups/Chinups (strict)
  • Weighted Pull-ups/Chinups
  • Supine ring rows
  • Hangboard exercises in a harness


  • AbMat situps
  • Knees 2 Elbows
  • Toes 2 bar
  • Tuck sit holds
  • L-sit holds


  • Pistols
  • Single leg box jumps
  • Single leg deadlift


  • Single leg skips
  • Single leg rowing  (rest bum leg on a skateboard and push with functioning leg)

If you find yourself bogged down by an injury, keep up with the training and before you know it you will be back in the world you love – climbing, where only the top out can stop you unless you are Steph Davis of course where you have the flight down left to enjoy.

A special thanks to Steph Davis and Craig, of Landstuhl Crossfit, for their advice on training while injured.

Do you have great training and recovery tips? Please share with us in the comments section!

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Ilana is a native of Southern California. She is an accomplished rock and ice climber and runs Thrillseekers Anonymous. She volunteers as a medical technician (EMT) and works as a climbing guide when she is not out leading her own adventures. She has been featured in various media outlets including the December 2013 issue of ‘Rock and Ice’ magazine, December/January 2013 issue of ‘Gripped Climbing’ magazine, Canyoneering: A Guide to Techniques for Wet and Dry Canyons (How To Climb Series) by Dave Black and Pasadena Magazine as well as a Climbing Expert on MTV’s Parental Control (Season 7 – “Heather”).

Ilana has written 78 articles for Thrillseekers Anonymous.

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