Here at The Project we have a brilliant team of focused climbers who have come from every background. Emily has been climbing for 19 years but before that she started off as a gymnast. Through her sporting career she has learnt a lot about mobility, injury prevention and management. Emily is one of our head instructors and also runs the Secret Circus Aerial School. Her flexibility helps her reach competition finals, fold in half on a hoop or silks and provides crucial beta on some hard problems. So, we decided it would be a good idea to share a bit of her knowledge with The Project family.
These series of posts will focus on different parts of the body, each one giving ideas on how to warm up, mobilise and cool down for climbing. Carry out the stretches and exercises with care and control. Do not force any of the positions and take it easy please guys! If you are not sure of your form or need a little more instruction feel free to chat to Emily as she is always happy to help.
Roll pecs/front of shoulder
Place a spikey ball or tennis ball in the dip between the shoulder and pec. Gently lean your body weight on to the ball for 20-30 seconds on each side. In this exercise you should only lean, do not roll. This can help get some blood supply to your fingers.
To help get that blood flowing around your forearms use the spikey ball or a tennis ball to lean your forearm on. Gently apply pressure and roll your arm back and forwards, round and round. If you find a knot or a tighter section apply pressure through the still ball until you feel it relax. This can also be done if you are feeling pumped mid-way through a session. A similar effect can be achieved by using your knee instead of the ball.
Start with your back and neck straight, shoulders over your hands and hips over your knees. As you move forward bring your knee towards the hand which is not leading. 1 or 2 lengths of the green matting should be enough to get the body warmed up.
Start with your hands on the floor behind your hips with your fingers facing away. Put your feet out in front and lift your bum off the floor. Push your hips to the sky, open the chest and look up. Hold for a few seconds, lower down and repeat. 2 sets of 5 should do the trick. Listen to your body, there's no need to push too far.
Start by placing your hand at the base of your spine. With the opposite arm, face your palm to the ceiling, flex your wrist and raise your hand to shoulder height. Slowly lower and raise your arm to shoulder height with your hand still flexed. Keep your shoulders away from your ears. This should be repeated 10x on each side. If you are experiencing any severe pins and needles in you arm or hand, lessen or stop the exercise and consider seeing a physio.
Nerve glide 2
Place your hand again on your spine. The opposite hand raises to your face with your back three fingers tucked under your chin. Join your forefinger and thumb to make a monocle and raise as far as you can to your eye. Then lower back to the starting position holding the position and fingers in place. Repeat this x10 on each side in a slow and controlled manner. Same as above, if you are experiencing any severe pins and needles in you arm or hand, lessen or stop the exercise and consider seeing a physio.
Like you see at yoga class, press your hands together with your knuckles touching and hold for 20-30 seconds. Remember with all these exercises it's import to keep your shoulders away from your ears.
Upside down prayer
The same as the original Prayer but pointing your hands to the ground. This really helps stretch the pulleys attached to your little fingers.
Back of wrist
Place the back of your fingers to your knuckles flat on the ground in front of you. Gently push over and shuffle slowly backwards to increase stretch. This stretch can provide a little more mobility to your crimps. If you would like to up this stretch you can raise your fingers with the other hand. Be very very gentle with this stretch and move slowly.
Start with your hand pressed on the wall at shoulder height with your fingers facing down. It's important to start face on to the wall and slowly open your chest until you can feel the stretch.
Remember with all of these stretches you should be in full control and back off if something does feel right. Emily is often at the wall so don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions.
If stretching is something you want to improve and spend a bit more time on, we have our Yoga classes on a Wednesday too!