As climbers, we are notorious for skipping rest days and climbing through injuries, often making them worse. Hopefully, this time away from the rock allowed that nagging tendonitis we’ve been ignoring for the past three months to heal.
Getting back into climbing shape will not be easy and will possibly crush our confidence on the wall, but with a little patience and hard work, we will get our strength back! One of the biggest challenges we all face as climbers is keeping our cool and easing back into the sport, so as not to re-injure those fingers we waited for so patiently to heal. Below are some of our tips and tricks to getting back into climbing and preventing injuries.
1. Be nice to your skin: After months off, your skin is baby soft and will take time to acclimate to climbing again. Avoid climbing for too long during your sessions, so you can walk away with tender skin and not a nasty blood blister or gaping flapper.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water.
- Soak your hands in a warm Epsom salt bath. If you already have open cuts on your hand, you may want to skip this one!
- Use climber balm post climbing to help your hands heal faster.
2. Avoiding boredom and frustration: Projecting routes or problems that you used to warm– up on can get old really quickly. Luckily, Sportrock has an entire gym of new routes and problems to aid in that “I’ve done this 1000 times” feeling, but that will likely not quell the frustration. Instead of focusing on the grades, focus on other things.
- Technique: Make every movement as efficient and graceful as possible while keeping a steady breath and don’t over grip those holds. Accept where you are and enjoy the simplicity of just climbing.
- Specific Skill: Set your focus on one skill you’ve always wanted to get better at — flagging or the closeness of your hips to the wall.
3. Warm-up properly: While this has always been important, many of us have avoided this process in the past. Why not get a fresh start and add in a vital routine that may stave off those recurring injuries?
- Raise the body’s temperature as the first part of a warm-up. Anything that gets the body moving — running forward and backward, side-stepping, jumping jacks, and jump roping are all good ways to start getting the body warm.
- Dynamic warm-ups: Knees to chest, straight leg moderate velocity kicks, side lunges.
- Next, get on the wall and do 40-60 progressive (progressive in terms of weight pulling on the hold, or the size of the hold) moves per hand (80-120 total). This is probably around 2-3 routes (in other words, not necessarily consecutive moves without rest). Reason being, this helps the tendons (specifically the pulleys) to slowly progress to their fighting form.
4. Have a plan and start slow: It isn’t just your muscles that need time to adjust to the time off, but also your tendons. It takes years to build strength in your tendons and only a little while to lose it.
- Pick a set amount of time you want to climb for and set a timer, so you do not get sucked in for too long.
- Write down a climbing work–out or have one in your head before you arrive and be sure to be flexible with going down in grades if needed.
5. Use your off days wisely: You can use the days you aren’t climbing to help speed up recovery and increase strength and fitness so you can get back to climbing harder, faster!
- Contrast bath for your hands: Alternate putting your hands in warm(not hot) water and cold (a few ice cubes) water. 1 minute of cold, 3 minutes of warm and repeat 3.5 times, finishing with 1 minute of ice.
- Work your opposition muscles: Push–ups (narrow grip for an extra tricep bonus), wrist and finger extensors with small bands, or wrist curls with your palm down.
- Yoga: Try out one of our virtual yoga classes. There are too many benefits for climbers to mention. Instagram: @sportrock
- Go for a run or bike ride: Increase your cardiovascular shape and help prevent COVID-19.
6. Setting goals: Having a good long term goal is essential to give you something to work towards, but those small intermediate goals are the ones that will help motivate you day-to-day to get there. The list of goals is endless, so pick one tailored for you! Below are some ideas for intermediate goals.
- Pick a target grade for each session as you work your way back up to max.
- Pick a target number of moves on a traverse and see if you can complete the goal.
- Set a timer and climb up and down a wall until the timer goes off.
- Incorporate a habit you never had but always wanted, like strengthening at home after your climbing session since initially, the climbing sessions will be pretty short.
- Pick a workout you want to try and complete it in an hour and 45 minutes.
In conclusion, don’t rush back into the climber you were three months ago. Be cautious, patient, and steady with your climbing progress utilizing the tools you’ve just learned. If you only take one tip away from this, make sure to BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Climbing is tough and takes repetition. Don’t quit on a hard day, implement these tips, and keep on climbing. See you all at the gym!