Yoga for Rock Climbers
Rock climbing is a beautiful outdoor activity which develops both your strength and self-confidence. But like with any other sport, climbing also has its cons. It is known that it stresses the body more than almost any other activity, and some of the contradictions are overdeveloped lats, strained neck, tight hamstrings and shoulders which are pulled forward. There is no reason to stop climbing because of this. Rather, doing some yoga in between the climbing sessions can balance out your body and can bring many other benefits as well. You certainly know that yoga will increase your flexibility, relax tight shoulders, protect your joints and improve your balance and mental focus. So for a few times a week, replace the rocks and climbing equipment with leggings and a yoga mat.
Although any yoga style would do the job, there are some postures which will give the best possible benefits to climbers.
- Dolphin Pose
This posture is one of the best for shoulder flexibility, stabilization and strength. It will undo the work of climbing, and your shoulders will become less tight and while being pulled backward. It also strengthens the core and adds a bit of work to the hamstrings. To enter the dolphin pose, start in plank position on your elbows. Walk your feet towards your chest as much as comfortable. Your legs should be straight, and the heels should be going towards the ground.
- Downward Dog
Similarly to the dolphin pose, downward dog stretches and strengthens the shoulder muscles. Beside this, it stretches hamstrings much more, along with calves and Achilles tendon. It can also help in preventing calf rotator injuries. Start in plank position on your hands and do the rest of the steps the same as in the dolphin pose.
- Plank Pose
Usually done after the downward dog, the plank pose improves shoulder stability and is one of the best core strengthening exercises. It will help you to bring awareness to the core, and to learn to stabilize and lower your pelvis to avoid lower back injuries. You can advance to side plank pose on both sides to add even more work to your core, arms, and shoulders. Be sure that your core is activated and tuck your pelvis.
- Forward Bend
Seated and standing forward bends are both amazing hamstring stretches, which will unwind all the tightness created while climbing. It is also known to relieve stress and improve digestion which we could all use. In both seated and standing pose pull your head towards the feet, and try to round your back as little as possible.
- Bound Angle Pose
This posture develops the flexibility in the hips while externally rotating them. Climbers have their hips rotated mostly internally since they are near to the wall most of the time. Opening the hips the other way will balance this. It will also be easier to step up in the next climbing position by remaining static more easily. Start in the sitting position with your legs in front of you. Bend the legs, and bring your feet close to your pelvis. Open your legs, pulling them towards the ground while your feet remain pressed to each other.
Practicing these postures regularly will help you to continue climbing without having to worry as much about the contradictions that usually come with it.