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Alien planets, surgery, steep cliffs, training for the Navy— all in a day's work for Morgan Gilmour

athlete of the month climbing shoulder pain testimonial wichita athletes Feb 22, 2023
February Athlete of the Month: Morgan Gilmour. Natural Wellness Physiotherapy. Image shows Morgan smiling at the camera in climbing gear on the side of a rock face.

In between prepping patients for surgery and penning sci-fi novels, Morgan Gilmour always finds time for a climb.


He’s been an athlete since high school, when he fell in love with the sport. He continued climbing and running through college— 3 miles most days— until life got too busy for more than a couple runs a month.

“But I’ve made time to climb, always!” Morgan says. “I love how climbing is a mental and physical sport. You're solving a puzzle with your body.”

Weightlifting isn’t that exciting, he says, and he enjoys running on a treadmill even less.

“Running outside is different, because at least there's scenery to provide mental stimulation,” Morgan says. “The less mentally engaging the task is, the less I enjoy it.”

The husband and father sometimes builds his own exciting worlds in sci-fi novels— Momentum, a trilogy about a group of teenagers on an alien planet trying to end a global war, and Not-So-Distant Future, the 7-part tale of a family unraveling and fighting against a massive political and scientific conspiracy on near-future Earth. (Available on Amazon)

He lives by the idea that passions are innate.

“Find something you love and you won't have to find the motivation or time to do it. The motivation will be there and you will make the time.”

Right now, Morgan is training to pass the Marine Corp Combat Fitness Test, so he can deploy with Fleet Marine Force as a surgeon when he’s active duty with the Navy.

So it’s easy to see why he was motivated to get some help when his shoulder started giving him problems these past six months.

“Initially when it started bothering me, I wrote it off and said it would get better on its own,” Morgan said, “But when a month passed by and it didn't, and I was starting to notice a difference in my climbing, I thought I probably had a rotator cuff injury, or at least a strain.”

After fewer than 6 visits of treatment with Dr. Clayton, though, Morgan is back to normal.

“[I’m] able to do any climbing move I want,” he says— including a tricky press position called “mantling”, where your shoulder takes most of the weight.

“When I was able to return to mantling, which is a move that closely aligns with my personal climbing style, I was very happy.”


Nowadays, the surgery resident is proud to lead climbs, especially his favorite kind: multi-pitch, where a lead climber carefully guides followers through a series of routes up the side of the rock face.

“Being able to lead a pitch makes me feel like I truly climbed it,” he says.

It’s hard work (think, multiple hours of intense cardio and muscle building)  but Morgan says he doesn’t consider it exercise, “the same way that people who love their work don't consider it ‘work.’”

“I climb because I feel called to climb. My mind is clear of all other concerns and I am able to devote my mental and  physical energy 100% to that task. When  I am on the wall, I feel free.”