We put our muscles, joints and tendons through one hell of a fight when we’re climbing, and showing your body a little bit of love with some dedicated therapy time can go a long way in preventing injury and improving your performance. To make things extra easy, here are a few key products and some DIY tricks you can use to stretch, strengthen and support…
RESISTANCE BANDS & LOOPS
Resistance bands have long been the king of conditioning tools, and there’s good reason for that. Highly adjustable and adaptable, resistance bands can be used to perform countless different exercises at your preferred level of intensity. Possible exercises range from simple warm-up and cool-down stretches, to strenuous strength training, to injury rehabilitation drills. Plus, resistance bands can be used in combination with other exercises and equipment for some extra spice in your workout.
There are a few different kinds of resistance bands out there – our favourites are the classic strip band and flat resistance loops. The former can easily be adjusted for length and tension and works perfectly for a climbing warm-up routine, while the loop can be, well, looped around the legs or arms during basic strength exercises to really get those muscles burning.
Check out this blog for a great climbing-specific resistance band warm up & workout.
This play-dough-for-grown-ups is available in various colours and degrees of pliability, allowing you to select your preferred level of squishiness to get those fingies ready to send. There is a wide range of exercises that you can do with Theraputty, including:
Roll the putty into a ball and hold it in your palm. Press all your fingers except the thumb into the putty. Hold for 5 seconds and release. Repeat.
Roll some or all of the putty into a ball and hold it between your index and middle fingers. Squeeze your fingers together for 5 seconds. Release, reshape the putty and place between your middle and ring fingers, and squeeze as before. Repeat with the ring and pinky fingers and then start again from the index finger.
Roll the putty into a ball and poke a hole through the middle. Shape it into a ring and place it around your index and middle finger. Spread your fingers apart and hold for a couple of seconds. Repeat with your other fingers as with the above exercise.
Check out more exercises in this guide from FlintRehab.com.
The Theraband Flexbar is a classic go-to for warming up hands, wrists and elbows, as you’ll see in Chev’s routine. You can squeeze a surprising number of exercises out of this floppy squish, and you can even use it as a teeny foam roller for forearms and feet!
Check out BetaStash’s fantastic video of the best Flexbar exercises for climbing here (#localislekker).
SPIKEY MASSAGE BALLS
Spikey massage balls seem fun and innocent at first, but don’t deceived – these are evil little torture devices. But in a good way… like getting a killer massage from your physio that fixes the problem but also makes you cry.
Spikey balls can be used similarly to foam rollers to massage achy muscles, not only to relieve pain (as counter-intuitive as it sounds), but also to encourage blood flow to the affected area to aid in and/or speed up the healing process. Balls are available in a variety of different sizes and levels of firmness depending on the area of intended use; they can be used to massage the glutes, arms, shoulders, feet and back.
Take a look at this guide of exercises by Bodyfix and get ready to enjoy a gentle and relaxing, not at all incredibly painful, full-body massage.
THERABAND HAND XTRAINER
The Therband Xtrainer is a unique and versatile lil gadget that can be used for a wide variety of hand, finger, wrist and forearm exercises. Not only is this squishy baby latex-free, but you can also cool or heat it to give your hands some extra love. Also it looks just like Turkish delight and that’s pretty neat.
Click here for a full list of Xtrainer exercises.
We love a good life hack, and climbers are a resourceful bunch, meaning there are plenty of cheap tips and tricks that you can use to strengthen and rehabilitate…
This is exactly what it sounds like – rice, in a bucket. Fill a large container with rice, shove those hands in and get flexing! There are heaps of videos out there demonstrating effective exercises and routine, including this one from Grassroots Self Treatment.
HAMMER WRIST TWISTS
This is a great exercise for strengthening the forearm and building support around the elbow – simply grab whatever hammer or mallet tickles your fancy!
To perform the exercise, grip the hammer’s handle and hold it upright with the heavy, smashy bit at the top. You can adjust your hand position according to your strength – the further down it is, the more resistance will be offered. Once you have a sturdy and comfortable grip, rotate the hammer 90° downwards in a slow and controlled manner. Slowly rotate back to your starting position and repeat on the other side. Repeat until you feel comfortably fatigued (we don’t want any injuries).
ELASTIC BAND EXTENSIONS
A familiar favourite, this exercise simply requires a hair tie or elastic band. Loop the band around your fingers and thumb, and then slowly spread your fingers apart, resisting the elastic. Return to starting position and repeat until comfortably fatigued. For more resistance, add more bands.
Check out this video for some more effective elastic band exercises.
Whether you pop into your local gear store to stock up on some funky gadgets, or you prefer the DIY route, make sure to enjoy some therapy time and give your body what it needs to crush on the walls without breaking.