Exercises

Static Stretches for Climbers

After climbing, never before, as you do not want to relax tendons & muscles before sport.  This is for after sport when yo will rest and recover.  Feel free to static stretch after a foam roll, self massage or after a proper massage, after a hot bath or shower, or, even the next day after climbing.  You do not have to stretch directly after climbing or sport. Just make sure you add flexibility routines into your week 1-3 x /week.

Hold each stretch 30 sec 1-2 x each

Sleeper Stretch

Posterior Capsule/Rotator Cuff Stretch

Sleeper Stretch with weight

Excellent posterior rotator cuff stretch. Good to with light weight (0.5-1kg) if your shoulder is really tight and you are having trouble to find the stretch. Do not do if you feel pain in the front of your shoulder.

Yoga Rotator Cuff Stretch

Yoga Eagle pose. Good for your rotator cuff and upper back.

Yoga Supraspinatus Stretch

If you can not touch your fingers, hold a pillow case or a belt and try to walk your hands together. Go easy with this one. You may need instruction from a therapist for this one! Do in the shower if really tight for some heat.

Upper Trap & Neck Stretch

upper trap and neck stretch.  Look down & over & pull near ear. Reverse to come out it.

Standing Lat Stretch

Stand same heel behind of the side you’re stretching. Pull over to the side & feel side lat, hopefully near shoulder blade. Engage upper traps up and back slightly to not impinge at your shoulder joint.

Hanging Lat Stretch

Another way to stretch your lats (feel side arm pit and torso)

Kneeling Lat Stretch

Good stretch for your latissimus dorsi muscle aka your main pulling muscle! All climbers need to stretch their lats.

Upper Back Stretch

Round upper back and pull arms forwards to feel across the back

upper Back Stretch w Rotation

Round upper back & rotate to the side to get different angles of stretch

bent over upper back stretch

Another upper back stretch, little awkward but good! Bend over, class lower shin on opposite leg, round your upper back and push pull with your hands, bend over and twist while rounding your upper back, and breath 🙂 

upper back stretch

Round upper back and clasp hands to help contract pecs.  Resist hands against each other.

FOREARM FLEXOR STRETCH

If you have tight flexors then place fingers off table edge. Keep wrist creases facing forward, elbows slightly bent.

Advanced FOREARM FLEXOR

Bring hand more forward to eventually get palm & fingers flat on table. Keep elbows slightly bent. You can raise heels of hands to off load the stretch to get fingers flat, but then do a palm down with finger tips just off edge as well.

FLOOR FLEXOR FOREARM STRETCH

If you can not get your hand flat you can lift heel of hand off floor or table. In that case, do this also on the edge of a table with finger tips off the edge to take tension off so you can do the stretch with palm down as well. Do not hyperextend (lock straight) your elbow.

OWL ULNAR NERVE STRETCH

A good nerve & flexor forearm stretch. Very good for climbers. If you experience severe tingling or pins & needles you need to see a physiotherapist. 

FOREARM EXTENSOR STRETCH

Good for after antagonist wrist extension exercises. If this stretch is super easy compared to flexor stretch then you may have an imbalance between your flexors and extensors (common in climbers). You could check to see if you have roughly 60/40 ratio b/w flexors/extensors by seeing what kind of effort or pump you feel when curling 5 or 10 kg flexors vs 3 or 6 kg extensors. If there is a big disparity b/w flex/ext then work on your extensors to match the ratio. This stretch can be done on a table o floor too to add more weight to it.

ULNAR NERVE STRETCH

One arm at a time Ulnar Stretch holding fingers with opposite hand next to your ear in same position as “Owl”. Make sure you are pulling baby & ring finger backwards.

Wrist & Elbow Open Kinetic Chain Exercises

Good for wrist, finger, forearm and elbow rehab and/or to keep forearms strong during a period off climbing.  Generally you can work through a bit of pain 1-3/10 pain levels (10 = worst pain imaginable) acceptable during or after the exercises, as long as the pain goes away the next day or hours after the exercises, you are seeing strength gains with less pain over a 3-4 weeks.  

Ice injured area after your exercises/strengthening 5-10 minutes to calm the area down.

Work with a lever arm or weight that challenges you at 12-15 reps x 2-3 sets if training endurance or if you are injured and just starting out.  If you want power endurance gains, hypertrophy or you do not have more than 3/10 pain when doing the exercise training at a weight or lever arm that challenges you at  reps 6-12 reps x 2-3 sets. If you want to train power then use low reps 1-6 reps x 4 sets with big rest to full recovery between sets. Do 3 x week with rest days or off days climbing.  You could do wrist extension and radial deviation exercises after climbing if you like as these are also antagonist exercises.

WRIST & ELBOW OKC EXERCISES

Wrist Extension

Wrist extension with bar working to End Of Range. Can hold the EOR for 2-5 sec. Narrow dumb bell grip good to start. Wider grip is harder but good to do as an intensity progression if no pain. Wrist extension strength should be 60/40 ratio of flexor strength or even a bit closer. So same sort of fatigue/ability between flexors at 10 kg for example should be for 6-7 kg extension.

broomstick wrist extension

Wrist Extension with Broomstick

Another form of wrist extension that works eccentric, concentric and grip in a slightly different way to classic dumb bell wrist extension. Both are good.

Therastick

Therastick

Refer to our elbow article on UKC on my home page. You can train all sorts of ranges and angles. Good for wrist, grip, and elbow rehab.

radial deviation

Radial Deviation

Antagonist exercise and important wrist rehab exercise. Use sauce pan or frying pan, light then heavy. Can adjust lever arm.

ulnar deviation

Ulnar Deviation

Climbing dominant movement so do only if not climbing to potential or at all or if I instruct so. This movement places stress on TFCC & ulnar side of wrist joint.

supination

SUPINATION

Good for wrist, grip & medial elbow strength. do either concentric / eccentric or eccentric only if too painful or progressing to a heavier weight or lever arm.

Shoulder Blade Stabilisation

Dart Prone Blade Lift

Dart Blade Lift

Lie prone, towel under forehead. Pillow under tummy/pelvis if you have a curvy back or feel your low back overworking. Arms by side, lift blades & shoulders back & up against gravity. Hands down to start. 15-30 sec x 2-3

single arm W prone

"W" Blade Lift Trap Isolation

Blade/arm lift, initiating from the blades/trapezius to raise. forearm parallel to floor so elbows tucked down slightly, wrists up. Do 2 at time &/or 1 at time. Hold 15-30 2-3x add weight 400 g and increase 10-20%. Can work power but after a decent amount of endurance in the muscle has been achieved: 15-30 sec x 3 600 grams.

prone Y blade lift

"Y" Blade Lifts

Y blade lift, using trapezius muscles lift blade up against gravity. Use weight/reps and sets as in W

Arabesque with T Blade Lift

With weight or not Arabesque is good for hip/ankle & shoulder stabilisers. Hold arm out to side in a ‘T’ position & retract your blade back through out the movement. If too complicated & you need to isolate traps alone, then do on floor as in Dart, W, Y.

Dead Hanging Position Setting Blades in a 'Y'

Dead Hanging Position Setting Blades in a 'Y'

To avoid shoulder impingement I recommend Dead Hanging in a ‘Y’ trapezius recruitment. Like you do on the floor against gravity. You can also hang in a semi locked off (bent elbows) position but your elbows should point slightly forwards to help your blades wrap around onto your rib cage so they are set/stuck onto your torso and not winging or disengaged. Pink bra better than sports bra to demo! 🙂

Superman holding 'I' Shoulder Blade

Superman holding 'I' Shoulder Blade

Superman works hip and shoulder stabilisers together. Arm held straight up near ear is an ‘I’ position where your blade is in max upward rotation and elevation. Upper traps work hard here and you want that. Similar position to hanging “straight” arms to clip or look at feet or also dead hanging. You can do this on the floor like in Dart, W and Y in previous photos. Superman kneeling easier than shown in this picture as Joel from Functional Fitness Bristol is demoing with his knee of the floor which makes the exercise harder.

Finger & Hand Exercises

Work all fingers & thumb to start if pain free then try individual fingers with thumb or single finger flexion or extension ex’s. Start light resistance with bands and gripping devises then move onto firmer, wider, harder devises with pain free movements. Do reps & sets according to your rehab and climbing goals ex: endurance 30-120 sec x 3 ; power endurance 10-30 sec x 3; power 2-9 sec x 3-6 reps x 3-6 sets. Rest in-between is longer for power reps and sets, you want to be fully recovered for power and power endurance if you are being power endurance training. Do a mix of slow reps, fast reps, and holds with the various finger/ hand exercises.

FINGER EXTENSION

FINGER EXTENSION

Use normal elastic band or power fingers to work finger & thumb opening or extension. Move fingers away from your thumb, keeping thumb straight, no kinks. Can do palm down, palm up & thumb up. Good rehab, warm up and antagonist exercise in-between & after dead hangs or climbing.

pinch

PINCH

Keep fingers & thumb straight, pinch a ball, roller, book or grip devise, later you can use pinch blocks. All fingers & thumb or back 3 like in photo or back 2 or individual finger with thumb. Use pain as a guide for intensity. If more then 2/10 p 10 being worst pain imaginable then you are working at an intensity that is too much.

BACK 2 GRIP

BACK 2/3 GRIP

When training grip strength focus on back 2 & 3 which are our weaker fingers. Use any grip devise or ball. A soft weighted ball works well. Use pain as a guide for intensity.