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Prepare to Climb
July 8, 2016 | by Janna Mazzarolo

British Columbia is considered to be one of the world’s top climbing destinations.

Outdoor enthusiasts have access to a wide variety of climbing options, making the sport accessible to a spectrum of ability.  For a beginner, indoor climbing gyms are a great starting place.  For those with experience, the local mountains are a limitless playground.

For a safe and happy climb, it is essential that the climber’s physical capability matches the demands of the chosen route.  The ability to sustain mental focus and to move with creative freedom are also necessary for optimal performance.

The following Movement Practice has been created to get you thinking about the demands of rock climbing and to give you a tool to play with if you are inspired to explore vertical journeys this summer.

Movement Practice Intention

  • Move your core* through its full range in all planes of motion
  • Activate your core stabilizers
  • Develop multidirectional range of motion in your hips and your shoulders
  • Develop scapular and pelvic stability in both bilateral and unilateral actions
  • Balance the dominant pulling pattern of climbing with pushing actions
  • Become aware of the present state of your body and mind and bring your mind to a single point of focus to allow for peak performance

*For the purpose of this article, please consider the following definition of the term “core”.

  • The entire body, minus the arms and legs.
  • The spine and pelvis make up the structural support system of the core.
  • The inner unit, which functions to create stiffness in preparation for movement, is made up of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, transverse abdominis, and multifidus.
  • The outer unit, which functions to create movement, includes four subsystems; anterior oblique subsystem, posterior oblique subsystem, lateral subsystem, deep longitudinal subsystem.

 

Movement Practice

For all of the following actions, stay within your safe, pain free range of motion.  Move slowly, maintain a steady breath flow, and observe the way that your body responds to each position.  Honor the feedback that your body is giving you and adjust or stop anything that feels like a bad choice.

Connection Breath

  • 10 cycles of breath
  • Tall standing position
  • Eyes open or closed
  • Inhale; create length and space in your body
  • Exhale; create a subtle sense of tension and stability in your core by lifting your pelvic floor and contracting your transverse abdominis (engage your inner unit)

Standing Spinal Flexion + Extension  Video icon

  • 3 repetitions
  • Exhale; slowly roll down, allowing your knees to bend as you go
  • Inhale; slowly roll up to a tall standing position, consciously pressing through your feet into the ground and extending the top of your head up to the sky

Standing Spinal Lateral Flexion + Lateral Extension  Video icon

  • 3 repetitions on each side (alternating)
  • Maintain length in both sides of your waist and an even connection between both feet and the floor
  • Consciously elongate your spine as you transition through center to your second side

Standing Spinal Rotation  Video icon

  • 3 repetitions on each side (alternating)
  • Keep your feet firmly planted and as close together as is comfortable
  • Maintain the length of your spine as you twist

Option to repeat the spinal mobility series with closed eyes.  Closing your eyes will increase the balance challenge of the movements.  It may also allow you to more closely observe the subtleties of each movement in your body.

Upward Extended Hands + Deep Squat with Scapular Stabilization  Video icon

  • 10 repetitions
  • In the low position, actively press the back of your hands into your inner thighs and your inner thighs into the backs of your hands (feel your core connect, your spine lengthen, and your shoulders broaden as you do this action)

Plank + Wide Lunge (reach to horizon) + Side Plank Variation (kickstand, reach to sky)  Video icon

  • 5 repetitions on each side (alternating)
  • Maintain neutral alignment of your spine and pelvis in both the front and side plank (option to elevate your hand position to ensure that your spine is being safely supported by your core system)

Lateral Lunge + Twist (reach to Earth and Sky)  Video icon

  • 5 repetition on each side
  • Maintain the length of your spine as you twist

Centering Breath  Video icon

  • 10 cycles of breath
  • Eyes open or closed
  • Notice the sensations in your body and the quality of the thoughts in your mind
  • Visualize a successful climbing performance
  • Smile

 

Taking the time to go through a preparatory movement practice before you start to climb will not only improve your climbing experience, it will also reduce your risk of preventable injuries.  Abby Galenzoski is a Kinesiologist, Hydrotherapy and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Fortius.  She works closely with the Fortius Physiotherapy department, helping people make the transition from rehabilitation to performance training.  She states that; “Movement preparation and pre-habilitation exercises help athletes prevent injuries, correct dysfunctions, optimize movement patterns, and improve performance. Both are effective ways to prepare the body for sport/training. This movement series increases circulation to the muscles involved, elevates tissue temperature, activates the central nervous system, and helps to create a state of mental preparedness.”

Choose your route.  Prepare your body.  Focus your mind.  Be strong.  Be creative.  Have fun!