Flexibility for Climbers
Stretching is key for increasing flexibility. Note that flexibility is a passive construct and it is active mobility which is required for climbing and most sports. This means that in order to get the most out of your flexibility training it needs to be combined with either strength training / movement that takes you close to end range or through the use of techniques such as Functional Range Conditioning. Both of these require the input of a qualified and good coach to guide you. The following is an introduction to basic stretches for climbers.
For all the stretches you should aim to hold them for up to a minute or 6-8 deep, relaxed breathes. In through the nose and out through the mouth. To increase range of motion it is advisable to train it separately and spend 90 seconds to 2 minutes in each position and do a couple of sets of each stretch. As before focus on the breathing as you should be relaxed throughout this. This is intense and is recommend speaking to a qualified professional before commencing.
Ankle Stretch (Half Kneeling)
In a half kneeling position lean onto your front leg so it pushes your knee over the foot. Hold this position.
Ankle Half kneeling position, pushing the knee over the front foot.
Ankle Stretch (standing)
With the balls of one foot on a step or using an both feet on an ankle stretcher drop your heal as low as you can with legs straight and hold.
Standing ankle stretches
Sitting down with your feet against a wall and legs straight edge forwards so your hips are as close to the wall as possible. You should feel a stretch down your inner thigh.
Box splits stretch and alternative position
On all fours with knees under your hips move your knees as far to the side as possible so your hips drop down towards the ground. You should have 3 90 degree angles. One at the hips, knees and ankles. Depending on your flexibility you can rest on your hands, elbows or with arms straight in front of you. Make sure your pelvis is in neutral and back flat.
Prone Frog Stretch
Sitting down with feet together and knees to the side bring your feet towards you as close to your hips as possible then gently push your knees down. Keep your back straight and don’t pull your feet (toes) up towards you.
In the classic chest stretch position with your elbow resting against a wall at 90 degrees to the shoulder. Open up your chest so you can feel the stretch.
Chest stretch position
For stretch one use a wall or other structure and place the thumb side of your hand on the wall at shoulder height. Keeping the arm straight open up your shoulder stretching the bicep and front of shoulder.
For stretch two put your hands together behind your back and keeping your arms straight raise them up. Do not let your shoulder roll forward when doing this.
Bicep stretch one and two
Using an object such as a table or chair place your foot on the object with leg straight. Tuck your hips and gently lean forward into the stretch. You should feel this down the back of your leg. If not you may need to choose a higher object.
Standing pull your arm across your body at shoulder height. This will stretch the back of your shoulder.
Kneeling down with your arms straight under your shoulders. Your palms should be on the ground with fingers pointing back towards your knees.