Stretching and strengthening go hand to hand in rock climbing. Without a great stretching regime, muscles get stiff over time. And, stiff muscles put a strain on the tendons and joints, making them exposed to injuries.
Moreover, rock climbing stretches improve your flexibility and makes you a better climber. Both beginner and seasoned climbers should practice stretches as a part of their climbing routine. In this article, you get to know why it is beneficial to stretch before and after rock climbing.
Why You Should Stretch Before Climbing
While stretching before a climb is good, most climbers don’t do that. If you are an experienced climber, you may need little stretching before climbing. But you may need a bit of stretching after climbing. That’s because your toned muscles don’t need exercise.
And a short, warm-up session might do the trick. However, stretching after you climb down will help you to recover regardless of your vast expertise. Hence, a short stretch before climbing to set up the right tone for your body and a long stretch after climbing should be perfect.
Why Is It Good to Have Rock Climbing Stretches?
To begin with, stretching both after and before climbing will help to improve your overall performance. And, this is effective both on the wall and on the rock as well. Also, the stretches become an important factor when it comes to avoiding certain types of injuries.
Your muscles will get stronger when you stretch them regularly. And, you can prevent certain types of accidents or injuries. In general, climbing injuries consist of injuries that result from the abuse of certain joints and muscles. The traumatic injuries are the result of a fall.
So, preparation is a must if you want to minimize the chances of injuries. Warmed-up joints, ligaments, and muscles let you maneuver through rough movements or hold to a safe position without tiring out. That’s why an intense warm-up stretch is important for muscle groups.
Make it a habit of cooling down your body and recovering after and between climbs. This is when you need static and slower stretches. They keep the muscles smooth and flexible. Rock climbing stretches to increase your flexibility and endurance to a great extent.
When you remain flexible, it improves climbing because you can get creative with your moves and techniques. So, regular stretching increases flexibility and makes your body supple. The climbing becomes easy and more effective.
What Are the Different Kinds of Rock Climbing Stretches?
Here are the two different kinds of stretching explained in detail.
- Dynamic stretching: The stretches you take to warm up your body before the exercises are called dynamic stretches. This form of stretching involves moving within a position without feeling discomfort. These movements help you loosen the muscle and activate them. Also, they help lubricate the joints. Moreover, they stimulate blood flow to the ligaments, tendons, and muscles to help prevent injuries.
- Static stretching: After climbing or in between them, try to cool down your body and help to recover. Static stretching involves a slow way to stretch. You tend to move slowly into a position that might be challenging but not painful. Hold your body for about 20 to 25 seconds. It repairs your muscles to improve flexibility. Static stretching is best when your muscles are warm. Take a deep breath and with each one, extend the stretch a bit deeper. Continue doing that until you feel pain.
Different Rock Climbing Stretches Explained
Let’s discuss some effective stretches after and before climbing to keep your joints and muscles in great shape.
1. Stretching the fingers for rock climbing
- Finger lifts: Put your hand on the table flat and lift fingers one after another. While lifting a finger, stretch it gently until you feel pain.
- Prayer finger drop: Get into the praying posture with your hands close together and spread the fingers apart. Keep the elbows out while pressing down your palms. The forearms lie parallel, facing the ground.
Next, drop the finger down to the corresponding side. It helps lubricate your finger joints that are close to the palms. Also, it stretches the hands and finger muscles.
2. Stretching the hand for rock climbing
- Fist unfurl: Outstretch your arm and make a hard fist. Now unfurl each of your fingers one after another. This warms up the hand muscles effectively.
- Wrist mobility: Flex your wrists and elbows. And extend your wrists and elbows downwards almost immediately. The tendons on the wrists and elbows stretch out. And, makes them warmed up.
3. Stretching the forearm for rock climbing
The forearm muscles are important for gripping. Hence, stretching them is very important. So, stretch both the underside (flexors) and topside (extensors)
- Flexors stretch: Get on the knees and place your palm down beside the knees. Lean forward slowly with your palms slightly raised to the ground. Continue doing that until you feel an extreme stretch.
- Extensors stretch: Stretch the left arm straight. With your right hand, bend the left hand down in a way so that the fingers point downward. It stretches the topside of the forearm.
- Tabletop wrist flexion stretch: Get yourself into a stable position on your hands and knees. Your hands should be under the shoulders and your knees right below the hips. Make the fingers point toward the knee and stretch the inner portion of the forearms. To intensify the position, slightly move backward by shifting your body.
4. Stretching the leg for rock climbing
During rock climbing, the legs draw the most force. Hence, never neglect the glutes and hamstrings. Flexible, strong glutes and hamstrings help you move higher by improving heel hook and footwork.
- Pigeon style: Sit on your knees. Stretch out one leg behind you and keep the other one bend before you. Bend the knee at about 90 degrees.
- Glute wall: Put your feet against a wall by lying flat on the back. Arrange the legs in a way so that they can bend for up to 90 degrees. Next, rest your foot over the corresponding knee. Make sure that the ankle passes your knee. Flex the knee to keep the foot stable and engaged. You will experience a pull on the backside of your leg and outside the hip.
- Knee pull-ups: Stand straight by separating your hip a little bit. Now, lift one leg and hug it tightly on your chest. Continue doing this until you feel the stretch.
- Standing stretch: Make your left foot raised onto a chair or table by standing on your feet. Keep your right leg straight by stretching it behind you. Make your chest learn toward your left knee. Next, repeat the steps on the other side as well.
- Sitting split: Sit on a plane surface and stretch out your legs straight on each side. Make an effort to lean forward to the ground while keeping the back straight as possible. Try to move your belly forward rather than the shoulders. And, try to get enough stretch every time you breathe out.
5. Stretching groin and hips for rock climbing
Flexible hips provide you with lots of movements. Also, you can put on more weight regardless of any position you are in.
- Rotate the hips: Stand on one of your feet and lift the knee up of the corresponding feet. Now, open the knee to its side and remain in that way for some time.
- Wide squat: Stand on your feet and make them wide apart from the shoulders. Next, bend both of the legs until the knees are pointing outward at 90 degrees.
- Side angle position: Stand straight, then stretch out your right foot away from your body for about a meter. Bend your left knee and try to bring the left thigh parallel to the ground. Lower the left arm toward the ground in a way so that the left part of your body comes close to the left thigh. Try to touch the floor outside the foot. And your right hand aiming toward the sky. The position helps stretch your shoulders, groin, and hips at the same time.
- Hip flexors: Get down on one of your knees and put your hands on the hips. Make sure that your thumbs are pointing in a forward direction. Next, rotate the hips in a backward direction. Ensure that you are in a straight position. And, most of the stretches are coming from hip rotation and not because you are leaning forward.
6. Stretching back and shoulders for rock climbing
- Opening chest: Lie back on a yoga block or anything soft that’s elevated right in the mid-portion of the spine. Allow the arms to fall on either side. That way, your chest muscles open up.
- Eagle arms: This exercise stretches the muscles along with the shoulder blades. Now, cross the arms before you with elbows bending at about 90 degrees.
How You Should Stretch After Climbing
Allow the body to cool down properly. Start by doing slow and static stretches after rock climbing while the muscles are warm. It helps you recover and improve flexibility. If you are experiencing knee pain, read how to prevent knee pain when rock climbing.
The forearms, hamstrings, hips, back, and chest are the important areas. While doing the slow stretches, hold for about 30 seconds while taking deep breathes. Now, after we’ve covered how to stretch before and after rock climbing, read how to get better at climbing and the benefits of rock climbing for your mental and physical health.
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