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Warming up for climbing
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By Don McGrath
From fort collins, CO
Feb 20, 2012
How do you warm-up for climbing and how do you know that you are ready to get at it?

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By Cocanower
From The High Country
Feb 20, 2012
Loooose j
eat somethin,short traverse or easy boulder problem then stretch.

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By tcamillieri
From Denver
Feb 20, 2012
The upper committing crux of Secret of the Beehive...
I do a pyramid warmup. For example, if my project for that day is a V10, I will do a 5 V0's 3 V3-5 and 1-2 V6-8's. I also think its important to take into account what type of project you have and make sure that not only your muscles, but fingers are warm. Specifically, I really like doing easy dynos and large moves on good holds. Its harder to warm up when your projects are in the v2-5 range. In which case I'd do more jumping jacks and things of this sort in order to warm up my muscles.

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By Finn the Human
From The Land of Ooo
Feb 20, 2012
Mathematical!
I climb a couple easier routes/problems, do a few stretches and get at it. If I hop on my project and I'm really struggling I'll back off and do a couple more easy problems. No real organization, I just warm up till I feel good. I only started warming up regularly within the last couple months and I've been very (pleasantly) surprised at the difference it has made for me.

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By Will Copeland
Feb 20, 2012
view off the 4th belay
It's all a personal thing. The important thing is that you're nice and loose/stretched as to not pull any muscles. Know that it's a lot easier to pull/hurt something while bouldering than it is while route climbing, generally.

Personally, if I'm working on something that day (for me in the 10d or 11a/b range), I will start by leading an 8 and a 9, then probably TR one of those routes. I do this progression to a)get in a rhythm with protection whether it be clipping bolts or plugging gear and b) get blood to the muscles and get them feeling loose. I generally stretch before and in between routes and there is a lot of arm shaking going on in between that. I do a full body stretch before climbing and then again at the end of the day, but stretch as I feel necessary in between routes.

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By Jon Marek
From SLC
Feb 20, 2012
gossamer
Usually, I just do a short session with the tug toner and I am ready to go.


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By tivs
From Augusta, GA
Feb 20, 2012
I stretch my arms and wrists and fingers, then I do a few laps on a 5.8 or whatever is under the auto-belay. I do some stretching while doing those laps, too. Afterward, I stretch again!

If there are a lot of people around (who might glare at me if I hog the auto-belay), then I'd do a few laps on our traverse wall. Again, stretching before, during, and after.
Normally, this would actually be my cool down routine though.

Other times, I'd just do a bunch of easy problems.

If I'm at home and am warming up before hangboarding, then I'll just do some pullups.

Whatever it is I do for warming up, I take my time with it -- sloth-like! No particular reason; it just feels better. And I continue doing it until my hands and arms actually do start to feel warm -- usually ten to fifteen minutes.

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By tcamillieri
From Denver
Feb 21, 2012
The upper committing crux of Secret of the Beehive...
I don't recommend stretching. Stretching tears muscles fibers and reduces the amount of power you have for that day. Stretch AFTER not before.

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By Brian Abram
From Columbia, SC
Feb 21, 2012
Brian Abram, leading pitch 2 of Dinkus Dog on the ...
Yeah, you should Google "static stretching before exercise" and make up your own mind. Static stretching is a long term strategy to increase range of motion and flexibility. It temporarily does some damage to muscles and connective tissues while dampening your response to pain. Apparently, this damage makes you a bit weaker, less powerful, and less stable, making you actually more likely to hurt yourself...in spite of what we all learned in middle school gym class. Pre-workout static stretching is the act of literally hurting yourself before exercise.

You should do static stretching after you are thoroughly warmed up and after doing any activity that is going to require as much power as you can generate. If done before, it's not gonna prevent any injuries, and it might possibly make them more likely.

Go for a jog, consider some dynamic stretching (leg kicks, arm circles, etc), and then start climbing on some easy stuff, if possible. Otherwise do some jumping jacks until you feel warm.

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By Mike McKinnon
From Golden, CO
Feb 21, 2012
Bunny pancake
I am not warmed up until I am profusly sweating. It takes me about 30-40 minutes of climbing & dyanmic stretching to truly warm up and get ready for max pulling.

I will ARC for 15-20 mins until I start sweating. Get off the wall, do a ton of dynamic stretching and shoulder exercises to lube up my shoulders really well. By this time, I am sweating pretty good.

Then if I am bouldering, I do pyramids to like the earlier poster said to build up to my project. If I am running routes, I do the same thing.

I will usually take a 5-10 minute break right before I am about to pull for real.

I find the better I warm up the longer I can pull maximally and the less I get flash pumped.

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By Eric D
From Gnarnia
Feb 21, 2012
Born again on the last move of the Red Dihedral, h...
I blast the heat in my car on my way to the gym. It significantly reduced how long it takes me to warm up at the gym.

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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Feb 21, 2012
OTL
Don McGrath wrote:
How do you warm-up for climbing and how do you know that you are ready to get at it?


Isn't this what the approach is for?

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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Feb 21, 2012
El Chorro
I assume you're talking about climbing at the gym? If you're outside, you'll obviously havea to change some stuff but the principles are the same. The answers are getting better but we are still missing some stuff:

You need to get your heart rate up for 12-15 minutes before doing any real climbing. If you can ride your bike or jog to the gym then your good to go, but most people can't do this. If your gym has a stationary bike or rowing machine they are both easy ways to get your heart rate up, otherwise you can jump rope or even just run around the parking lot.

Once you've broken a sweat, then you can start loosening up specific muscles. Dynamic stretching is preferred over static for warming up purposes. Static stretching increases flexibility but it doesn't warn you up. A good static stretching session is more like a workout itself and will leave your muscles feeling a bit tired. Do this AFTER climbing, especially your forearms, groin, hip flexors, pecs and lats.

Loads of ways to stretch dynamically... google it or just make some up.

Now you are ready to climb. 10-15 min of easy bouldering or even better, traversing or TRing. Use big holds, and work on movement skills like stepping through, side in excercises and flagging.

Then do a fwe harder boulder problems or routes, sort like the "pyramid" that was suggested above.

If you want to climb hard and stay injury free, you should be spending at least half an hour warming up and then another half an hour climibng before you get on anything near your limit.

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By Umph!
Feb 21, 2012
I always use the TUG TONER as well. . . unequivocally the best warm-up out there.

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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Feb 21, 2012
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suck...
Will Copeland wrote:
The important thing is that you're nice and loose/stretched as to not pull any muscles.

Stretching beforehand will not help you avoid strains or any other kind of injury (unless it's dynamic stretching perhaps).


Brian Abram wrote:
Static stretching is a long term strategy to increase range of motion and flexibility. It temporarily does some damage to muscles and connective tissues while dampening your response to pain. Apparently, this damage makes you a bit weaker, less powerful, and less stable, making you actually more likely to hurt yourself...in spite of what we all learned in middle school gym class.

This.

(Although I do not believe studies are as conclusive as you state, generally what you said seems to be the case and I would agree with it.)

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By fat cow
From St. Paul, MN
Feb 21, 2012
perfect seam
damn i've always been all about the static stretching, had no idea oops... dynamically stretching most of the body seems quite obvious after some reading but how do people go about doing this for the forearms?

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By daniel arthur
From Auburn,Al
Feb 21, 2012
NW Couloir of Mt.Helen in August 2012
tcamillieri wrote:
I don't recommend stretching. Stretching tears muscles fibers and reduces the amount of power you have for that day. Stretch AFTER not before.


@ all you static stretching naysayers do you mean to tell me that all the money that major league sports invests in their players, and they have this stretching thing wrong? See picture below...


NY Giants pre game static stretch routine
NY Giants pre game static stretch routine

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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Feb 21, 2012
My navigator keeps me from getting lost
daniel arthur wrote:
@ all you static stretching naysayers do you mean to tell me that all the money that major league sports invests in their players, and they have this stretching thing wrong? See picture below...


did they do anything to warm up before stretching or did they just walk out on the field and start stretching?

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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Feb 21, 2012
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suck...
shuminW wrote:
Neither do I think the studies on static stretching are as conclusive as the statement in your first sentence.

I think the burden of proof is on the claim that static stretching prevents injury (vs the other way around) and I actually do not believe there is much to support that theory.

Meanwhile they've run meta-analyses on endurance runners and military recruits and have found that generally static stretching has not prevented injury in hundreds of thousands of participants. Interpret that as you will.


fat cow wrote:
dynamically stretching most of the body seems quite obvious after some reading but how do people go about doing this for the forearms?

You can't. Well, you can to a degree but you don't need to. Statically stretching forearms when pumped, however, is a probably a good idea and will help to reduce blood flow occlusion (i.e. de-pump).


daniel arthur wrote:
@ all you static stretching naysayers do you mean to tell me that all the money that major league sports invests in their players, and they have this stretching thing wrong? See picture below...

Your pic isn't necessarily indicative of static stretching. I have done similar dynamic stretches with track and field teams.

When was the pic taken? What is the context (at what point in the pre-game warm-up)? It leaves out a lot of things.

Believe it or not, sometimes major league teams actually do not employ the most educated strength coaches. I once knew a major league baseball player who came to our training facility during the off season. He talked about one of his strength coaches being a guy who knew someone and got the job but he had no real credentials and was a moron.

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By daniel arthur
From Auburn,Al
Feb 21, 2012
NW Couloir of Mt.Helen in August 2012
I have no idea about the context of the picture.

So you guys recommend dynamic stretching, a bit of cardio (increase heart rate), then can I static stretch? I am having a hard time disconnecting from the traditional stretching I have always known. How should I "loosen" up before the activity? Solely from dynamic stretching?

Thx

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By tcamillieri
From Denver
Feb 21, 2012
The upper committing crux of Secret of the Beehive...
daniel arthur wrote:
@ all you static stretching naysayers do you mean to tell me that all the money that major league sports invests in their players, and they have this stretching thing wrong? See picture below...


First, there's zero context to this photo. Second, since when does money = knowledge? Third, I did not say "never static stretch." I said AFTER. Fourth, I'd take what the sports scientists say over what football players do. Um DUH?

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By tcamillieri
From Denver
Feb 21, 2012
The upper committing crux of Secret of the Beehive...
shuminW wrote:
The burden of proof is always on the side that claims contrary to conventional wisdom/standard practice. And the burden of proof for "do not" is also much more onerous than "can". I once glanced over the controlled studies you've linked on rc.com and they did not address my concerns over injury to the antagonist muscle in dynamic movements (the few I suffered in years of martial arts).


what specific antagonist muscles are you referring to?

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By daniel arthur
From Auburn,Al
Feb 21, 2012
NW Couloir of Mt.Helen in August 2012
I already explained the lack of context on the photo, but I doubt pro athletes go out and do what they want without consulting a sports scientist.

Most professional athletes do some sort of light cardio then a set of static stretches. Then they "play ball" if you will.

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By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From Salt Lake City, UT
Feb 21, 2012
Andrew Gram
Yup, and then they pull their groin and are out for 6-8 weeks.

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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Feb 21, 2012
El Chorro
Dunno what the Giants do, but I've been taught by numerous coaches and trainers that the best way to warm up and prevent injury is to get your heart rate up and then stretch dynamically. This doesn't have to mean jumping around a lot, but it definitly does not mean aggresively stretching a muscle for 15 seconds at a time.

I grew up around professional atheltes and parents that rehabbed them and don't think that they could all be wrong. I also don't buy the comment that professional sports franchises don't hire qualified individuals. Whatever is going on in that picture is at the orders of someone who knows what they are doing, which means that they are probably not stretching very aggressively. This was probably also taken over an hour before kickoff.

If anyone seriously doubts what most of us deem to be good advice, then they should just go through some serious static stretches and see how it feels. 30 seconds per muscle, 15 second intervals with a 3 second break, aggressively, to the max. Get someone to help you - REALLY stretch. You'll see why I like to do it after I climb and not before.

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By John Maurer
Feb 21, 2012
Crested Butte, looking for a landing . . .
At 36 and having climbed for a long time - plus been injured (broken bones, torn tendons/ligaments, etc.) a ton, I'm finding that if I start off really slow and do a broad pyramid, I can get nice results. Don't get me wrong, I bust my ass and am in good shape, but I can hold off lactic thresholds longer and warm up to a point where I can pull much harder with certainty than if I just dive right in. No, this is not a sexual metaphor (but maybe sound advice).

Seeing that the OP is 48, I'd be curious to hear about how people have adjusted their warm-up to compensate for variables that magnify with time.

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