Warming up before any form of exercise is important. Immediately jumping into exercising without warming up your muscles can lead to injuries. A proper warm-up should last five to ten minutes and work all of the major muscle groups. This will loosen up your tendons, ligaments, and muscles, and also get the blood flowing to your muscles and heart.
We met up with athlete and climbing coach, Tash Hodges, to see what warm-ups she likes to do before a climb. There are a ton of different warm-ups you can do before climbing. Tash suggests doing dynamic stretches and avoiding static. Dyanmic stretches are controlled movements and static stretches are where you hold a position for a period of time. Some research shows that static stretching can actually reduce your muscle strength if you hold the positions for too long.
Here are five dynamtic warm-up stretches that Tash does before she climbs.
The first warm-up Tash does is stretching her shoulders. Hold onto the rope with your arms out and move the rope in an arc shape from the front of your body, over your head, and down to the back. Make sure to hold the rope tight to get a really good stretch. You can also use a stick clip or a long brush for this.
Stretching your shoulders will relieve tension and tighness in your neck and shoulders, and open up your range of motion and flexibility.
Next, Tash does three variations of finger flicks to get her fingers and forearms ready to climb.
The first variation is as if you're flicking water off of your fingers. The second is just wiggling your fingers. The third is opening and closing your hand.
She does each variation for three rounds: arms out front, arms to the side, and arms above the head. She'll do 20 finger flicks for each round. You should feel a pump when you're done with this.
Scapular pullups are next! These target your shoulder blades and will help strenghten them and manage proper posture and positioning during upper body movements such as climbing.
To do these, find some jugs on the wall, keep your feet on the ground, and disengage and re-engage your shoulders. You can also do the same movement in a pushup position.
We're back to working the fingers! Find a crimp on the wall, or use a tension block or portable hangboard, and rotate through the different ways to crimp. This will help warm up your fingers and improve finger strength for crimps. Make sure you work both hands!
Lastly, Tash does hip stretches. Stretching your hips will help improve mobility and flexibility, both things you obviously need when climbing. You might find yourself reaching for a far-away foot hold and having your hip flexors nice and warmed up will be very beneficial.
The first hip stretch Tash does is getting in a wide squat with her hands on her knees and rotating her upper body from side to side. This also gives her shoulders an extra stretch.
The next one she'll do is opening and closing the gates. Standing up straight, swing your leg back as if you're going backwards over a hurdle. This is "opening the gate." Going in a forward motion is "closing the gate." Make sure to do these evening with both legs.
There are so many different types of warmup stretches and exercises that you can perform before climbing, but these are the five that Tash really likes! Make sure to do what feels good for your body.