Tis the season for the weather to start getting cooler, and for us to start spending a lot more time climbing inside. Which is not necessarily a bad thing since we now have 4 locations to choose from for your plastic-pulling pleasure, but you guys better be careful that you're not steering yourselves towards injury with your training and climbing habits! There are many obvious ways to avoid injury in the gym — like not jumping headfirst off of Big Tex after every send, for example, or not starting fistfights with your other fellow climbers in the parking lot. But there are some more subtle steps every climber needs to take to properly take care of their body before, during and after a climb — steps that are WAY too often overlooked. So we've compiled a list of some very basic ways to keep yourself healthy and uninjured, to keep crushing another day! 1. Warm up
Ok, this one might seem really obvious, only cause it IS. But we've noticed a lot of climbers who go straight from strapping their shoes on to projecting in like, 6 seconds flat. This is a really great way to not only not-send, but also pull something in your still not-warmed up fingers. It is so imperative to start every climbing session with a gradual warm-up, to get your body heated, muscles looser, and tendons more pliable. Try starting out on things that are way below your ability level, and then gradually build your way up, making sure to climb on a variety of different hand holds, to accustom your fingers to different grips and positions.
2. Hydrate properly
And we're not talking just any liquid — beer and coffee don't count, unfortunately. Make sure you're drinking water constantly throughout the day, not just when you're climbing. By hydrating properly before you climb, you are making sure your muscles, tendons, etc. are lubricated and ready to go! If you're thirsty, it means your body is too, and your muscles aren't as pliable as they need to be, and more prone to tearing AKA injury AKA a bad time. Also make sure you maintain your water intake even after climbing, so your body can properly heal all the micro-tears that happen with physical activity. I know, I know — more water = more trips to the bathroom, but it's worth it! But more walking to the restroom = more exercise! It's a win-win!
3. Take rest days
Doing six days on doesn't mean having more days to send. Not allowing yourself proper down time over-taxes your body and doesn't allow it to heal, which can contribute to a serious chronic injury. Doing two days on can be ok, if you are responsible about it. Don't project the same types of moves when you're doing two days on, because the repetitive movement can lead to injury. If you climb hard one day and plan on climbing the next day, make sure you take that second day pretty easy, and vary the type of climbing from what you did the day before. The more you climb, the more beat your body gets, and you may find yourself overcompensating for muscle soreness by using other muscles that are not prepared to do that job. Remember: more is not always better!
This tip leads pretty nicely into our next one ...
4. Know when to stop
You gotta know when to say when! There is a huge difference in a little soreness, and the pain of an upcoming injury. Pay very, very close attention to your body as you climb, and to every ache and pain that occurs. Keep checking in with yourself, and make sure that any pains are not the onset of an injury. You can almost never be too careful — if any unusual pain crops up while climbing, there is no shame in just calling it a day.
5. Train opposition
Climbers have a tendency to overdevelop the muscles they use to climb, while neglecting the opposing muscles. Every muscle has an opposing muscle, that it is meant to work together with to perform a function or motion. An imbalance in a muscle and its antagonist muscle can lead to injury, since an uneven muscle group can torque and pull joints out of place, as well as limit range of motion. Muscle imbalance is also the cause behind that famous boulderer hunch that many climbers sport, so training those opposite muscles is the best way to keep your posture straight!
Obviously these are just a few ways to keep your body healthy and ready to keep climbing, but keeping these steps in mind is a great way to dodge a lot of the preventable injuries that climbers suffer from. Obviously the most effective way to avoid climbing-related injuries is to ... well ... not climb, but we all know that's not an option / never an option. CLIMB 4 LYFE!!!