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Stretching and mobility with Emily: Upper Back and Shoulders

Upper back and shoulders

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 who also runs the Secret Circus Aerial School. Her flexibility helps her reach competition finals, fold in half on a ring or silks and provides crucial beta on some hard problems. So, I decided it would be a good idea to share a bit of her knowledge with The Project family.

These 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.

Warm Up

Rolling your pecs and front of shoulders

Place the roller on the floor and lay on it at 45 degrees. Gently roll over your shoulder joint right the way to your upper arm. Keep your weight split between your arms and legs to prevent too much pressure on the shoulder. Keep rolling for 20-30 seconds.

Rolling top of back

Place the roller just under your shoulder blades and gently lower your weight on to it. Roll from your shoulder blades to the bottom of your head slowly and in a controlled manner. Keep rolling for 20-30 seconds.

Trap Smash

Place a ball in the corner between your neck and shoulder. Lean against a wall pushing the ball in to your trap (the bit between your shoulder and neck) with your body weight and take

some deep breaths.

Rib Rub

First test your reach by reaching to the sky! Then rub a spikey ball all over your ribs from the front to the back with a firm pressure for 30 seconds. Check your reach again as you may have just grown an inch or so.

Cat Cow

Start with your hands square under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Take a deep breath in and arch your back (like a cat) then slowly breathe out and hollow your back (like a cow). Repeat this 5-10 times.

Down Dog Walk

Start in the standard plank position then slowly walk your feet up to reach the down dog stretch. It is important to have a straight back, so bend your knees if you can’t quite do it with straight legs. Now walk forward keeping your back straight. A lap of our green matting should be a good addition to your warm up.

Spiderman Walk

Start in the plank position and move your right arm forward. Then bring your left leg to meet your left elbow. While looking to your left, press down and twist. Repeat this side to side for a green matt length. This one may take a little practising if you are as uncoordinated as me!

Warm Down

Pec Stretch

Raise your arm and bend your elbow so that your hand is near the top of your back and neck. Press your elbow in to the corner of a wall with your inside leg on the other side of the corner. Start leaning in to the corner gently. If you are not feeling the stretch lessen the angle of your arm and hold this shape and pressure for 20-30 seconds.

Delt Stretch

This is a stretch which you would have done at school but is great for a climber's body. Bring your arm across your body and using the other arm pull it in to increase the stretch. It’s important to remember to keep your back and neck straight and not to pull too hard. To increase this stretch you can raise the arm you are stretching at the elbow to meet the other hand. 20-30 seconds with a nice even breath should do you wonders.

Neck Stretch

Kneel down and reach your ankle with your hand. Push your chest out and raise your head to have a straight neck and back. VERY gently tilt your neck away from the side you are grabbing your ankle.

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