6 Ways Stretching Has Made Me a Better Climber

6 Ways Stretching Has Made Me a Better Climber

Yoga&ClimbingBanner.jpg

Oh yes, yoga and I are in love. We weren’t always in love, but it’s been about a year now so I think it’s safe to say we’re in it for the long haul.  I will say though that I use the word ‘yoga’ quite loosely… I really mean yoga AND any form of stretching. I know the yogis out there probably won’t enjoy that, so I apologize. 

Since stretching after every climb and doing the occasional yoga session, I’ve noticed quite a difference in my climbing. I always knew stretching was important, but was always confused or unsure of what to do and what it really did for you. After talking to various friends and countless cross-searches of the net, I created a successful routine of what to do and even wrote a post about it (plug plug plug)! Without further ado, here are 6 ways stretching has changed my climbing game. 

1. improved flexibility

Yeah, duh. But, I’ve never been a flexible person, so it made perfect sense to start actually stretching. I started doing regular stretches after my cardio and climbing sessions to work on my splits and hip flexibility. In terms of climbing, I can reach higher holds with my legs, I feel less sore after my workouts, and I think I have warded off more injuries than I’ve endured. Being more flexible has also opened up opportunities for me to continue working on my flexibility, like acro-yoga, pole and silks so that it remains novel and exciting. 

2. calming effects

If you had asked me 10 years ago if I would ever get into yoga, I would have laughed in your face. To me, yoga was just too slow. I liked activities that pushed you to your limit – those sports that drenched you in sweat. Now, as I climb quite a bit at high intensity, I enjoy yoga for its physical and mental relaxation. When I’m in the gym or even on the wall, It forces me to slow down and take a break. I’m sorry 15 year old me – I’ve gone to the dark side!




3. improved balance

Clumsy, jerky and lack of spatial awareness would describe me when climbing or just generally as a human being. Slab and flat wall routes would terrify me because I was awful with balance. I’m still pretty bad at it, but I’m getting better! Many of my stretching poses require balance and paying close attention to body movements, which I find directly correlates with climbing. My yogi friend climbs flat wall routes so gracefully because she knows how her body moves and how to transfer weight slowly from limb to limb. I have a long way to go, but I have definitely seen improvements in this area on the wall.

4. reminders to breathe

Anyone who has ever worked out knows that sometimes you just forget the basic human instinct to breath. I plead guilty to that! You need to breath for obvious reasons, but for some reason we like to hold our breath through the tough stuff. I often catch myself holding my breath when I’m training, but I have a much better awareness now that I can point out when it’s happening and get the oxygen flowing again.

5. great for cross-training

Yoga has provided me with the opportunity to work on strength in different ways. For example, I am absolutely in love with inversions at the moment. After lots and lots of practice over this past year, I can finally do headstands with ease! It was a big accomplishment for me. Now that I can do that basic exercise, I’ve been working on different bends I can do in that position, including leg lifts to work on my core. I struggle to train core because I just hate it so much, but when I’m in a headstand it suddenly becomes much more fun!

6. I’m ready for my next work out

Less down time! When I’m feeling terribly sore, the last thing I want to do is workout. I used to feel really sore post-climbing mornings, and I’m not going to lie, sometimes I still do. But stretching has definitely warded off the dreadful soreness more than I realize. Not only does it feel great the next morning, it also feels great while you’re stretching. It’s not quite a massage, but still feels quite soothing. When I’m not sore, I’m more likely to push myself harder. More importantly though, it actually makes me want to show up to the gym and not use soreness as an excuse to take a rest day. 

Climb on xx




How to Warm-up for Climbing

How to Warm-up for Climbing

Warmuptitle

Warming up for any sport is such a tedious task. When I get to the gym, I just want to climb ASAP – I really don’t feel like swinging my arms around and taking time away from actually climbing. It was only when I pulled a tendon in my finger did I learn to appreciate a good warm-up. Don’t pull a me (pun intended) and do without –  you’ll regret it in the long run.

Your body needs to gradually build up to strenuous exercise. Your joints need time to loosen and your muscles need that increase in blood flow to carry out that awesome climbing sesh you came for. It’s very easy to skip a warm-up. Trust me, I know. But if you’re in climbing for the long-haul, and ESPECIALLY if you’re climbing hard stuff, always remember to respect your body and dedicate a nice warm-up to those muscles and joints who do wonders for you on the wall.

That being said, it definitely took me a long time to find a routine that suited me well. I’ve watched many youtube videos and have read countless blogs about proper warm ups to create something of my own. This routine that I’m about to share is what I’ve been doing for the past year, and it works really well for me! Enjoy!




1

2

3

4

5

6

 

7

When that’s done, take off your shoes and rest for at least 5 minutes. Listen to your body – if you feel like you’re still not warmed up, do what needs to be done! Traverse, climb some more easier routes, do more dynamic stretches or whatever else until you finally feel ready. 🙂

Climb on xx




Let’s get bendy: flexibility exercises for the splits

Let’s get bendy: flexibility exercises for the splits

coverphoto#3

Flexibility in climbing cannot be ignored – just watch a professional competition. Holds can span wide both horizontally and vertically, leaving you to find some very creative beta if your body just can’t bend the way you want it to.

I will say now that I am not a flexible person, nor have I ever been. Never in my life could I do the splits; it was always something all my friends could do, but I just couldn’t. Since I’ve been getting into more training lately to prepare for this season, I asked my very flexible friend if she could teach me some stretches I could do to get my legs ready for those reachy moves.

Turns out, her exercises were pretty awesome. A month and a half in, and I’m already seeing a difference. Because she is so great, she has agreed to let me share them with you! And to help me showcase these exercises she has also agreed to model for me as she is much more photogenic and flexible than myself. Check her out on instagram for some cool yoga and acroyoga shots @fe_viana_ Enjoy!:)

12 Steps for the Splits

Frequency: at least twice a week. Because these are static stretches, make sure they follow some form of physical activity (climbing, running, biking, etc.)

Hold each stretch for approx. 45 seconds. Maintain steady breathing, reaching further into the stretch during each exhale.

1. Begin by standing with legs spread out, facing the width of your mat. Slowly rotate your hips around like you were balancing an invisible hula hoop.

F#1
Beginning stance (mat not necessary but helpful)

2. Reach down to the ground with your hands, opening legs to the ground as far as possible. Stop when you feel a deep stretch in your inner thighs. Rest on your forearms if possible (support yourself with your hands if you cannot spread your legs far enough to rest on forearms). Maintain a straight, flat back.

F#2
Open legs to the ground, keeping straight back

3. From this split position, slowly push yourself back and sit onto your butt while maintaining open legs. Reach over to one leg, and grab your foot (with both hands if possible). Rest your chest as close to your leg as possible, feeling a stretch throughout the opposite side of your torso.

F#3
Sitting on butt, reach over and grab foot with both hands

4. If you can reach your foot with both hands, grab your left leg with your right arm, keeping your chest facing forward. Bring your right arm in front and rest on the ground. Feel the burn in your side! Repeat #3 and #4 with opposite leg. (FYI: I cannot do this yet, so I’m skipping it for now as the above exercise is a build up to this one).

F#4
Deep side stretch for those who are able!

5. From the open leg seated position, reach chest forward. Bend at your waist, not with your back (pretend like you’re trying to pull your ribs over a bar). Do NOT arch your back. If you have someone nearby, have them sit behind you, slowly pushing your entire back forward with their body.

F#5
Open legs to the ground, reaching forward bending at the waist

Now onto the front split! This type of split has several stretches warming up to the real deal. 

6. Stand facing the end of your mat. Walk one leg out in front, until you’re in a lunge position. Push forward, lowering your hips until you feel a stretch in between your legs (and the hip flexors).

F#7
Lunge position, stretching the hip flexors

7. From this lunge position, push back with front leg so both legs are straight and forming an upside down ‘v’. Reach forward planting both hands flat to the ground with your foot in between, maintaining straight back.

F#8
Lunge position turns into straight legs with hands flat to the ground in front of you

8. Bend front leg to place back knee to the ground. Grab foot from your back leg, and twist your body to place chest near front thigh. Use your other hand for support. You should feel this in your back thigh.

F#9
Legs form a zig zag pattern to stretch back thigh and hip flexor

9. Sit back on your back leg, stretching your front leg flat to the ground in front. Pull your chest to the ground while maintaining a flat back. Reach out in front.

F#10real
Sitting on folded back leg, feel the stretch of straight front leg

10. You’re ready to try the front split! With one foot in front, reach your back leg as far back as possible while keeping it flat to the ground. When back leg is fully extended, you may try to reach your front leg as far ahead as possible. There are many ways to get into this position, but I like this one the best. Repeat #6 through #10 with opposite side.

F#11
Attempt front split! Remember to repeat above stretches with opposite side

11. Sit with both legs together in front of you. Keeping chest high, reach forward bending at your waist.

F#12
Fold at the waist with chest reaching out, grab feet with both hands

12. Take one leg and fold it into your body. Chest up, reach forward and grab front foot with both hands. Repeat with opposite side.

F#13
One leg stretch

There you go! Now repeat until you’ve got it mastered. You can do it, I know you can:) I’ll keep you updated on my progress – keep me updated with yours! Good luck!

Climb on xx

(Special thanks to Fernanda for her expertise)