Climbing

Shauna Coxsey's 5 top tips for coming back from injury stronger than ever

© Shamil Tanna/Red Bull Content Pool
Written by Faye Brozek
Struggling with a niggling injury? Check out these tips from two-time Bouldering World Cup champion Shauna Coxsey on how to get back on the wall.
When you’re pushing the boundaries of sport and your body, things are inevitably going to come to a crunch. Professional climber Shauna Coxsey knows this all too well.
At just 26 years old, she has already had her fair share of injuries; from a broken leg just as her climbing career was kicking off, to a shoulder injury during the IFSC Bouldering World Cup in 2016, to a torn A2 pulley tendon in her finger at the end of 2017, which she tweaked in June 2018.
But Shauna isn’t one to let injuries get her down, with a contagiously positive attitude she takes injuries in her stride and uses them to come back stronger to the sport she loves. Here she shares her top tips on how to overcome injuries and come back stronger than ever.
Heads up: Shauna is also one of the faces of Red Bull Project: Pro, a new four-week series giving you exclusive training tips from elite athletes. (If you haven't already, sign up here.)

1. Hold back

Shauna's 80 percent tear of her A2 pulley tendon in her finger in 2017 had her away from climbing for almost 14 weeks.
Shauna Coxsey
Shauna Coxsey
Through her recovery, she needed to follow strict rules and regulations so that she didn’t fully rupture the tendon. "It’s holding back that’s the hardest bit, not just diving straight back in and making it worse again," she says. “I did everything as well as I could to make sure that I came back as strong as I could. The rehab and exercises are easy, you’ve just got to put the time and effort in.”

2. Work on your mindset

Shauna exudes positivity and says it’s down to practising a positive outlook. “I’ve had a lot of injuries, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to practise coming back from injuries. I think I’m one of those really annoying positive people. It’s a conscious choice I make. I choose to have a positive outlook on things and I think anyone can do that if they put enough effort and practise in.”
Shauna Coxsey poses for a portrait at the climbing centre in Liverpool, UK on February 21, 2017.
Shauna Coxsey
Quotation
I’d rather choose not to be upset and annoyed and just get over it and deal with it. Crack on.
Shauna Coxsey
There’s definitely a case for limiting the time that you spend wallowing in self-pity and getting upset about being injured. “I can get frustrated and upset that I’m injured but it only lasts for about five mins max, because I don’t feel that I have that much time to waste being annoyed. Your mindset is a choice – how you deal with things.”

3. Change your focus

Just because you’ve injured a certain part of your body, it doesn’t mean that you're automatically on sick leave. Shauna deals with different injuries by being able to shift her focus.
Quotation
As soon as you get an injury your attention has to shift from what you were doing to what you can still be doing
Shauna Coxsey
"As soon as you get an injury your attention has to shift from what you were doing to what you can still be doing," says Shauna. She explains that if you have a finger injury you can shift your focus and work on your legs more, and if you get a limb injury you can work on your upper body. “There’s always an opportunity to create a new outlook, so you can always shift your attention… whether that’s working on your mindset or your head-game.”

4. Get distracted

From taking her dog out on long walks, to baking, running and working for the charity Climbers Against Cancer, Shauna aims to make the most of her injury time. "I’ll always be busy," she says, "I’ll always find something to occupy my mind and my time. I always seem to get injured when I’ve got things that I can put energy into... Because I do a lot of things there’s always a distraction there waiting.”
Quotation
I’ll always be busy, I’ll always find something to occupy my mind and my time.
Shauna Coxsey

5. Come back stronger

It might not feel like it at the time, but Shauna says that many of her injuries have been “blessings in disguise". No matter what comes her way, her ability to turn it into her advantage has her coming back stronger than ever. "Every injury I’ve had I’ve come back stronger as I choose to have that outlook and think about what else I can work on.”
Shauna founded the Women's Climbing Symposium
Shauna founded the Women's Climbing Symposium
And once you're back training again, Shauna suggests doing the following to stay motivated and injury free:
  • Have fun
  • Do things that you don’t like and aren’t good at
  • Warm up – it’s so important!
Want to get four weeks of expert training tips from Shauna and other pro athletes? If you haven’t already signed up, join the Red Bull Project: Pro messenger bot here and get inspired to take your training to the next level.