When you think of climbing, you may be focused on the strength and muscle building that goes into it. And it's easy to do: Some of the main aspects of climbing require you to lift and hoist your own body weight. But, strength isn't the only thing required of a climber — being agile and limber is just as important. To tackle all that is asked of you when climbing, whether at a gym or outdoors, it's important to start with a solid recovery that stretches the body to aid with recovery and promote agility, flexibility, and endurance.
"At first glance, those unfamiliar with rock climbing would assume that the upper body is the only area worked," explained Austin Martinez, director of education for StretchLab and certified strength and conditioning specialist, NSCA.
According to Martinez, with proper technique, power is actually derived from the lower body and the arms are used as levers for balance and for keeping the body close to the wall or rock. In fact, the primary muscles utilized white rock climbing are truly the forearm, thigh, shoulder, and torso. "Increasing your flexibility and muscle recovery could be what you need to take your performance to the next level," he added.
As tempting as it can be to toss on your work-ready leggings like the UA Meridian Leggings ($70) and get to climbing, you'd really be wise to focus on recovery before jumping back in. The next time you finish climbing, do yourself a favor and try these six stretches to help kickstart your recovery and prepare you for your next adventure.
World's greatest stretch
- While standing, move into a lunge position with your left leg out front.
- Drop your right hand to the ground so that it's near the inside of the left foot.
- Then rotate towards your left side, so that your left arm is moving towards the sky.
- Hold this position for 20 seconds before completing the same movement on the right side.
- Complete three times each side.
- As you get more flexible, try to drop your forearm to the ground versus just your hand.
Side lunge adductor stretch
- Widen your feet beyond shoulder width.
- Lunge to the right while keeping your left foot planted on the ground.
- Drop your hands in front of you for stability if needed. The deeper you drop to the floor, the more intense the stretch.
- Hold this position for 20 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side and complete twice.
Seated three way hamstring stretch
- While seated, spread your legs out past your shoulders. This should create somewhat of a "V" formation.
- While keeping your hips grounded, lean your body to the left, reaching for the foot.
- Next, return to neutral and reach to the right.
- Finally, reach towards the middle, which will target both hamstrings at the same time.
- Hold each position for 20 seconds to complete one round.
- While on the floor, keep your knees bent and underneath your hips.
- Place your arms in front and palms flat on the ground.
- Sit back towards your feet while keeping your hands planted on the ground, so that you're bent over forward.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Find a doorway, lamppost, or any solid vertical structure.
- Lift your arm up next to you, making a 90 degree angle.
- Place that arm on the edge of the doorway, lean your body forward slightly.
- To deepen the stretch, rotate your body in the opposite direction of the arm being stretched.
- Hold for 20 seconds. Complete twice on both sides.
- Stand up straight and lift your arms straight in front of you.
- With the palm of your right hand facing forward, use your left hand to pull back on your fingers towards the ground.
- Flip and have your right palm facing downward and use your left hand to pull your fingers back toward you.
- Tip: The former will stretch the forearm and wrist flexors. The latter focuses on the extensors, both of which are important regions for grip.