Bouldering hurts. Frustrating, but many of us love it, and want to keep pushing ourselves at it without getting injured. Queue body maintenance - balancing our bodies to stay healthy. Yet, like flossing, how often do we take the time?
After rehabbing out of a labral tear, training for both beach volleyball and climbing, and spending months out on the rocks, I’ve written down a few things of what I do and why to keep my body balanced and minimize tweaks.
Massage Overworked Muscles + Strengthen Opposing Groups
FOCUS: CHEST and POSTERIOR
Classic climber posture – rounded shoulders and shrunken chest. Chronic tension in the pectoralis muscles is a major contributor to this imbalance, and as time goes on, the muscles connecting to the rotator cuff tendons become overstretched and weakened.
This is a slippery slope for
- Shoulder injuries
- Elbow pain
MASSAGE: Pectoralis Major
Stretching and massaging my pec muscles daily has significantly reduced hot spots in my shoulder and inside of elbow. Everything is connected, and it is important to
massage muscles further up the chain than just the area of pain.
~ 1 min each spot 1-2 times/day
- Bend arms with hands together at chest level. Bring your elbows out and back as far as possible, then continue by extending forearms and hands, reaching your fingers as far open and back as possible. Hold for 1 breath, release, repeat.
Innovative philosophy behind this stretching theory http://www.stretchingusa.com/active-isolated-stretching
- Press into a tight spot, hold pressure, move arm
- Massage starting at shoulder, kneading your hand along the muscle towards your heart.
Remember to breathe and release tension
STRENGTHEN: Posterior Chain
In combination with opening the chest muscles, it is just as important to strengthen shoulder-stabilizing muscles across the back.
Great for full body posture.
***Ask a trainer for help regarding form if you have never lifted before!!***
Shoulders engaged (keep shoulders away from ears, squeeze shoulder blades together)
Keep knees engaged, not locked straight, hinge at hips
Keep shoulders rolled back and engaged throughout the entire lift
Variation – single leg, less weight
The infraspinatus muscle plays a key role in shoulder stability and significantly underdeveloped in most climbers . It is a challenging rotator cuff muscle to engage, let alone isolate and strengthen.
Learning how to engage, then strengthening this muscle helped me consciously climb with healthier shoulder positions and rehab out of a labral tear!
The exercise below looks easy, but completely ineffective if done incorrectly. However, doing these motions by engaging your infraspinatus muscles will
- strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and lower traps
- reduce shoulder impingement
First, disengage upper traps and bicep (keep shoulders away from ears)
Palms to the ceiling
This will help isolate your rotator cuff muscles and avoid compensation with other, overdeveloped muscles
Tighten core to keep weight off of your hips
Lift arms, keeping shoulders AWAY from ears, focusing on only using your mid back
Keep core engaged to eliminate pressure on hips, making the rotator cuff muscles do the lifting
Y & T
Similarly, keep back engaged and shoulders away from ears.
T Variation – I’ve found starting with arms rowed up and extending my hands out, thumbs facing in towards each other, has helped me gain strength in somewhat tweaky climbing scenarios. As always, it is KEY to start in the correct position, shoulders away from ears.
This can be done with free weights or a cable machine.
I do variations of this workout 2-4 times per week
1set x 20 reps rest 2 min
1 x 6 rest 2 min
3 x 4 rest 2 min between sets
For all eercises, choose weight/resistance such that the last rep should be a fight
Reverse Bridge Hip Raises
2 x 40 with feet on yoga ball rest 2-3 min (I do Int/Ext during this time)
2 x 12-15 each way
I on floor, Y,T
4 x 12 each move with weight rest 3 min between sets
**Start with sets of 12-20 reps of “I’s” until you can lift arms at least 3 inches off the ground***
I began with no weight and can now use 8 lbs.
FOCUS: FLEXORS and EXTENSORS
MASSAGE: Arm Aid Flexors
Just 1-2 3 minute sessions a day can keep your arms much happier. Before simply rolling your arm out like a newb, watch the video to get the trigger point techniques down.
I’ll do short sessions when I can, then dig deeper when I have a rest day lined up.
Using a theraband, I extend my fingers out and try to move my hands as far back as possible. I do 4 x 20, increasing difficulty by folding over the band to add additional layers of resistance.
Trigger Point and Self Massage Guides
 Perry, Laura. Pectoralis Major Trigger Points. Feb 2013. http://www.triggerpointtherapist.com/blog/pectoralis-major-pain/pectoralis-major-trigger-points-cardiac-copycats/