Warming Up for Rock Climbers

warm up rock climber rock climbing warm up

Warming up prior to activity is important for everyone, climbers especially. A good warm up prepares the body by increasing blood flow to active muscles, increasing circulation, increasing body temperature and improving joint mobility. Getting your body moving prior to activity can reduce the risk of injury and decrease the likelihood of soreness afterward. It can also serve to help your body perform at its maximum potential so it’s important to make sure you’re warming up properly and safely. Here are a few key points to keep in mind before your next climb.

Stretching

A major part of warming up is stretching, which can be broken down into two different types:

• Static Stretching is when you hold a body position for a predetermined period of time (typically 10-30 seconds). A good example of this is sitting and grasping your toes or throwing your foot up on a chair.
Dynamic Stretching involves continuous movement through your range of motion like when you practice swinging your leg forward and backward.

Circulation

Getting your blood moving should be the first goal when warming up. Prior to working out or preparing for a climb, spend 10-15 minutes walking at a moderate pace, jogging or cycling to get your heart pumping. Incorporating some light cardio will help to oxygenate your muscles and keep them working magnificently.

Loosening Up

Do this by performing dynamic exercises that incorporate as many body parts as possible. Try to devote 5-10 minutes to loosening up prior to activity. Some ideas to get loose:

• Shoulder Windmills
• Neck Rolls
• Finger Flicks
• Wrist Rolls
• Knee to Chest
• Butt Kickers
• High Knees
• Trunk Rotations

Warm Up Climbs

You’ve loosened up and your body is warm, time to climb! Remember to increase your problem or route sequentially and strategically. Whether you’re bouldering or sport climbing, practice beginning your first few climbs 2-4 grades lower than your usual routes. If you can comfortably climb V3s for example, warm up with V0-V2s and work your way up. If you are a 5.11 sport climber, consider starting out with a couple of laps on 5.9/5.10. Not only is it beneficial to ease into your climbs but spectators will be WOWed by how effortlessly you zoom through them! 🙂 Utilize your first couple of routes to help you wake up your stabilizer muscles. Incorporate some rest into your warm up climbs to avoid pumping out early, you want to make sure you get to all of your projects for the day!

Rest

Remember to balance activity with rest. Occasionally you may hear someone say that they’re “pumped,” this usually indicates feelings of tightness, swelling, burning or pain due to lactic acid buildup (the PT brain never shuts off!). This usually occurs when a climber performs too many moves in a row. Like with any physical activity, there needs to be time for your muscles to recover from fatigue. All that said, find a good balance between incorporating rest into your warm up and not waiting too long—you don’t want to let yourself cool down completely.

Most importantly, listen to your body, pace yourself and rest appropriately so you can maximize your climbing time!

We hope these warm up tips and tricks will be helpful to you during your next climbing session. Keep an eye for more climbing-related physical therapy information on Therapydia. Until next time, rock on!

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