In my previous post about flexibility for climbing, I talk about why climbers would benefit from a regular stretching routine. I also talk about how flexible climbers could potentially gain an advantage in competitions and on their projects if they decided to improve their flexibility. You can read that article here.
In this post, I’d like to talk specifically about the most important stretches for climbers. Also, how you can begin stretching and some useful resources out there to get you started.
The applications of mobile hips in climbing are extremely vast. As I mentioned in part 1, people with more flexible hips can climb harder because they keep their hips closer to the wall. An exceptional level of hip mobility allows you to high step, rock onto heel hooks, set high heel hooks, weight your feet better, climb better slab, and more.
Here are some hip stretches/movements that I like to do:
Another big reason to stretch is simply to reduce your risk of injury. For example, one of the most common climbing injuries is a shoulder tweak. Shoulder tweaks become extremely less likely if you have mobile shoulders that can handle stress in extreme positions. The most common muscle related climbing injuries are shoulder/rotator cuff, knee and elbow. By incorporating a combination of antagonist training (strengthening muscles not used in climbing) and joint mobility into your climbing sessions, you will decrease your chances of hurting yourself.
Something that I’ve been doing a lot recently is animal walking. I think it’s really helpful for shoulder, elbow, knee, ankle and wrist mobility. Some of my favourites are:
- Crab Walk
- Lizard Crawl
- Bridge Walk
- Scorpion Walk
- Monkey Walk
- Handstand Walk
- Duck Walk
A great resource to check out if you have never tried any of the above movements before is Vahva Fitness on Youtube.
Devoting 20 minutes before or after your climbing sessions to stretching/mobility is all it takes to start noticing improvements in your climbing. Once you start to see improvement, you’ll only be inspired to keep working at it!